Tag Archives: Gail Huff Brown

Gen. Bolduc Leads;
Gov. McKee Survives

By Jim Ellis — Sept. 14, 2022

The Final Primaries

Retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc (R)

New Hampshire — The last major US Senate primary is close to concluding as retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc, despite being wildly outspent, appears to have turned back state Senate President Chuck Morse’s late race momentum and is staked to a one-point, 37-36 percent lead (1,270 votes) in the New Hampshire Republican Senate primary with 85 percent of the expected vote counted.

Though the margin is tight, it is most likely that Gen. Bolduc will advance into a shortened general election cycle against incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D).

A great deal of controversy surrounded this primary, particularly a verbal sparring battle between Gen. Bolduc and Gov. Chris Sununu (R). Both had unflattering things to say about the other, and now it will be interesting if we see a quick healing between the two. No doubt Democrats will use the governor’s words against Bolduc. Even before the votes were tabulated, however, Gov. Sununu was sending more conciliatory signals and stressing the importance of Republicans uniting to defeat Sen. Hassan, whom he says, “nobody likes.”

Though Bolduc was viewed as the weakest general election candidate in the field of six, head-to-head test polling didn’t show him any further behind Sen. Hassan than those, such as Sen. Morse, who were viewed as the better options to become the Republican standard bearer.

The Republican leadership will now have a difficult decision about how to proceed. Do they invest heavily in this race to back a candidate who they believe is weak even though Sen. Hassan appears vulnerable in a state that could easily swing Republican, or to do they cut their losses early and transfer the funds to another place where their chances for victory might be brighter? It will be interesting to see what they decide.
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Final Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022

We have finally reached the end of primary season, as voters in three northeastern states will cast their nomination ballots today. Once these votes are counted, all of the stand-alone primary states will have nominated their general election candidates. At that point only Louisiana, which holds its qualification election concurrently with the general, will remain in primary mode.

Each of the states holding their primaries are in the east, with New England’s New Hampshire and Rhode Island on the schedule along with Delaware in the Mid-Atlantic region.

New Hampshire — The most noteworthy primary is the New Hampshire Republican Senate race, complete with its share of controversy. Polling leader Don Bolduc, a retired Army General who ran unsuccessfully in 2020 (failing to prevail in the Republican primary in order to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen), and Gov. Chris Sununu (R) have been in a public war of words. Gen. Bolduc accused the governor of being a “communist sympathizer” and that his family’s business supports terrorism. The governor retorted that Bolduc is a “conspiracy theory type” who is not “a serious candidate.”

Many in the Republican Party, including Gov. Sununu, believe that Gen. Bolduc will not be a strong enough nominee against Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) even though polling shows that she is vulnerable. The governor has endorsed state Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem), who seems to be the only viable competitor who could deny Bolduc the nomination among the 10 others on the ballot.

The latest available Senate poll, this from the University of New Hampshire (Aug. 25-29; 892 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters; online), found Gen. Bolduc leading Sen. Morse, 43-22 percent. Since this poll was conducted, however, some $4 million has been spent attempting to deny Bolduc the nomination, and Democratic organizations have come from the outside to help him win the primary since they, too, believe that he would be easiest for Sen. Hassan to beat.

The retired General is at an extreme financial disadvantage, so he has little ability to promote himself. This race will draw the most attention tonight.

New Hampshire’s two congressional districts also feature competitive Republican primaries. Both seats will be hotly contested in the general election because Reps. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) and Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord) are clear Republican targets.

Another crowded ten-person Republican 1st District primary appears to be coming down to a battle among 2020 nominee Matt Mowers, who held Rep. Pappas to a 51-46 percent re-election victory before an electorate that has defeated more incumbents than any other in the nation, former Trump White House aide Karoline Leavitt, and ex-television news reporter Gail Huff Brown, wife of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). Polling suggests that Mowers has the slight edge heading into election day.

In the western 2nd District, the Republican race is a two-way battle between former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns and Keene Mayor George Hansel. Should Burns win the GOP nomination, and polling suggests he will, his challenge opposite Rep. Kuster will be formidable.

Rhode Island — The most notable race on the Rhode Island card is the Democratic primary for governor. Dan McKee assumed the governorship when incumbent Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to accept her appointment as US Commerce Secretary.

The new governor, running for a first full term in his own right, has four Democratic challengers, and a close outcome in tomorrow’s primary is expected. McKee’s four opponents are Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, businesswoman Helena Foulkes, former Secretary of State Matt Brown, and physician Luis Daniel Munoz. It appears the race is winnowing to a battle between Gov. McKee and Gorbea. Today’s winner becomes the prohibitive favorite in the general election.

Delaware — With no governor or senator on the ballot this year, the Delaware primary is basically a non-event. At-large Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Wilmington) is unopposed in the Democratic primary, and educator/actor Lee Murphy is the only candidate on the Republican side. The general election will not be competitive, since Rep. Blunt Rochester is a lock for re-election.

Sununu Won’t Take Senate Plunge

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) will not run for the Senate.

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 11, 2021 — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) held a long awaited news conference this week to announce his political plans for 2022. The governor had been the Republicans’ top recruitment prospect to challenge vulnerable Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, but the three-term state chief executive has chosen to eschew a tough Senate challenge and will instead run for a fourth gubernatorial term.

Though Sununu, like his father before him, has been elected three times as governor, he is still only in his fifth year of service. New Hampshire and Vermont are the only states that have two-year gubernatorial terms. In fact, for a 146-year period, no one had served more than one term as the state’s top office holder. The only governor in New Hampshire history to serve four terms is Democrat John Lynch, who was in office from 2005-2013.

Gov. Sununu’s decision certainly changes the New Hampshire political landscape and will cause potential candidates to begin assessing their chances both in a Senate race against Hassan and as a gubernatorial contender opposite Sununu. Attention now may turn to two-term US Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester).

The Republicans, with trifecta control of the New Hampshire political system in that they hold the governor’s office and have majorities in both houses of the legislature, are looking to change the marginal 1st Congressional District, the seat that has defeated more incumbents than any CD in the country since 2004, into a Republican domain. Doing so would concede the politically marginal 2nd District to incumbent Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord).

Pappas, aware that a significant change in his district could make him an underdog for re-election, was likely headed into an open governor’s race if Sununu decided to run for Senate. Now that he would have to take on a popular incumbent, his next political move may be less clear.

Turning back to the Senate picture, incumbent Hassan still remains as the most vulnerable Democrat seeking re-election in 2022; so where do Republicans go now? Looking at the crowded 1st District race, two contenders stand out as potential statewide candidates.

Gail Huff Brown, a long time New England television news reporter, is the wife of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, and she has already announced her congressional candidacy. Former Sen. Brown, himself, would also be a possibility since he has already run for the Senate once in New Hampshire. Matt Mowers is the 2020 1st District nominee who held Rep. Pappas to a 51-46 percent re-election victory. He, too, is an announced congressional candidate but it appears possible that at least one of the aforementioned could instead enter the Senate race.

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Former Mass. Sen. Scott Brown’s Wife Soon to be a House Candidate?

By Jim Ellis

Gail Huff Brown (R)

Sept. 2, 2021 — Television news journalist Gail Huff Brown (R), wife of former Massachusetts senator and ex-US ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown, is reportedly preparing to run for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District in what can arguably be considered the most competitive CD in the United States.

Scott Brown (R) served in the Massachusetts state House and Senate before winning the US Senate seat in a 2010 special election after veteran incumbent Ted Kennedy had passed away. Current Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) then defeated Brown in the 2012 regular general election. In 2014, Brown, after moving back to his native state of New Hampshire, challenged Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) but lost 51-48 percent despite running in a wave Republican election year.

Now, the Browns are looking to embark upon another political campaign, but this time the candidate will apparently be Gail Huff Brown, the former senator and ambassador’s wife of 35 years. A formal announcement is expected soon according to the NH Journal news site, which quotes Scott Brown as saying that “Gail is very close to a yes,” in responding to a question about whether his wife will run. Additionally, the ex-senator believes that former President Trump will endorse Ms. Brown, but such a move could be a long time in coming and may not be a sure bet.

Already in the Republican field hoping to challenge two-term Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) are at least two other candidates with strong Trump credentials. Matt Mowers is the 2020 GOP nominee who held Rep. Pappas to a 51-46 percent re-election victory. Mowers, along with fellow 1st District congressional candidate Karoline Leavitt, is a former Trump White House staff member. A third announced candidate is freshman state Rep. Tim Baxter (R-Portsmouth).

The 1st District electorate has defeated more incumbents since 2004 than any other. In fact, only twice in those eight succeeding elections did the incumbent win re-election. Republican optimism for 2022 is high, however, because the 2020 elections awarded the GOP both the state House and Senate and, with Gov. Sununu (R) in office, the Republicans have a redistricting trifecta.

The state has two congressional districts. The plan would be to make the marginal 1st District, the eastern seat that contains the state’s small coastline area, into a likely Republican domain while conceding the 2nd CD, or western seat, to five-term incumbent Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord). Currently, the 2nd plays relatively marginal – Rep. Kuster has averaged 52.9 percent of the vote over her five elections – but would be made safely Democratic under this discussed redistricting concept.

According to the Census Bureau’s per congressional district population report, the 2nd District needs 8,973 individuals from the 1st to equalize the resident figures. We can, however, expect a much bigger people swap if the defined partisan split plan is to become a political reality.

Rep. Pappas was initially elected in 2018 after then-incumbent Carol Shea-Porter (D) chose to retire. Shea-Porter first won in 2006, lost in 2010, was re-elected in 2012, defeated in 2014, and re-elected once more in 2016. Prior to his election to Congress, Pappas, a restaurant owner, was an elected member of the state’s Executive Council, a five-member board that holds certain checks and balances power over the Governor.

Pappas has said that he wants to survey the New Hampshire political situation before making his own 2022 electoral plans. If he deems the 1st District as becoming too Republican, he has not closed the door on running for governor, particularly if incumbent Sununu opts to run for the Senate. Sununu has been elected governor three times but is only in his fifth year of service because New Hampshire is one of two states, neighboring Vermont is the other, that maintains two-year terms for their state chief executives.

Though New Hampshire is a small state, the redistricting process will be closely watched because the GOP will need to convert the politically seesawing seat to meet their projected national majority numbers. With Gail Huff Brown potentially becoming a candidate, we can also expect increased national political attention coming to this race.

Additionally, it will be quite some time before we see the political patterns develop. New Hampshire still has a late primary, Sept. 13 for 2022, and candidate filing doesn’t close until June 10. Gov. Sununu is also indicating he will decide about the Senate race well into next year. Therefore, this political scenario is a long way from fully unfolding, and Gail Huff Brown’s potential entry into the congressional race brings us yet another new twist.