Don Bolduc, a retired Army general and 2020 election denier, appears to have captured the Republican nomination for Senate in Recent Hampshire after his chief rival conceded early Wednesday.
The Associated Press has not yet called the race. As of 10 a.m. Eastern, Mr. Bolduc held a lead of about 1,300 votes over Chuck Morse, the president of the State Senate.
Mr. Morse was endorsed by Gov. Chris Sununu and helped by $4.5 million from national Republicans, who were apprehensive that a victory by Mr. Bolduc would forfeit what they saw as a winnable seat in the hunt for Senate control this fall.
Mr. Bolduc’s apparent victory will come as a relief to Democrats, who also assume he can be the weaker opponent against Senator Maggie Hassan, a first-term Democrat. She won in 2016 by about 1,000 votes in purple Recent Hampshire but has been saddled with low job approval numbers. 4 states — Recent Hampshire, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — have vulnerable Democratic senators the party is aggressively defending to maintain its hold on the Senate.
Delaware and Rhode Island also held primaries on Tuesday — the ultimate date of major primary elections this 12 months, just eight weeks before the final election. In Rhode Island, Democrats selected Seth Magaziner, the state treasurer, to run for an open House seat that’s viewed as a tossup in November. Delaware’s biggest race was for state auditor.
But it surely was Recent Hampshire that held the main focus nationally. Besides Mr. Bolduc, Republicans within the state also selected a hard-right nominee for the House, Karoline Leavitt, a former staff member in Donald J. Trump’s White House press office, who echoed the previous president’s inflammatory language and provocations. She beat Matt Mowers, who had the backing of House Republican leaders, and can face Representative Chris Pappas, a two-term Democrat.
Mr. Bolduc’s and Ms. Leavitt’s apparent success adds Recent Hampshire to the list of battleground states where Republicans this 12 months selected candidates firmly within the Trumpian mold to compete usually elections that Republicans have historically won by reaching out to independents and conservative Democrats. Other examples include Massachusetts, Maryland, Arizona and Pennsylvania (in its governor’s race).
It’s each a transparent sign of Mr. Trump’s iron grip on his party’s base and a serious gamble on whether candidates with extreme views — principally, embracing Mr. Trump’s lie that he won in 2020 — can prevail in purple states. November will test if voter malaise in regards to the economy and Democratic leadership in Washington is robust enough to blot out candidates’ hard-right views.
Mr. Bolduc led wire-to-wire in polling during his race. He amassed grass-roots support by traveling widely for 2 years and holding town hall-style events, where attendees fumed over President Biden and Democratic governance in Washington.
His supporters were less animated by bread-and-butter issues corresponding to inflation — which is soon expected to affect the associated fee of the house heating oil that’s widely utilized in Recent Hampshire — than by immigration, the 2020 election and cultural issues. “I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Donald Trump won the election and, rattling it, I stand by” it, Mr. Bolduc said at a debate last month. He has also said he was open to abolishing the F.B.I. after agents searched Mr. Trump’s residence in Florida in search of classified documents.
Mr. Sununu, a moderate and popular Republican within the state, was outspoken in calling Mr. Bolduc a “conspiracy-theory extremist” whom most voters didn’t take seriously.
Mr. Morse, 61, the president of the State Senate, acknowledged that Joseph R. Biden Jr. won in 2020 and said he would have certified the election if he had been in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
In debates, Mr. Morse rarely turned his fire on Mr. Bolduc, as an alternative attacking Ms. Hassan. He highlighted how he had led the Legislature to override a budget that Ms. Hassan had vetoed as governor since it included business tax cuts. Ms. Hassan’s campaign has positioned her as breaking along with her party on problems with concern to Recent Hampshirites — pushing for a federal gasoline tax holiday, for instance — and standing as much as “Big Pharma” to lower prescription drug costs.
How Times reporters cover politics. We depend on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they will not be allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.
Other candidates within the Republican primary included Kevin Smith, a former Londonderry town manager, and Bruce Fenton, a cryptocurrency entrepreneur whose libertarianism — he favored legalizing all drugs — enlivened debates but in addition drew boos.
Mr. Bolduc’s poor fund-raising meant he wasn’t capable of run a single ad on television. An excellent PAC with ties to national Republicans spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads opposing him and boosting Mr. Morse.
A Democratic group also tried to shape the race: The Senate Majority PAC, which is aligned with Senator Chuck Schumer of Recent York, the bulk leader, attacked Mr. Morse in ads as “sleazy” in an effort to drive voters toward Mr. Bolduc, gambling that he can be easier to defeat in November.
For the final election, super PACs tied to Republican leaders within the Senate have reserved $29 million for ads in Recent Hampshire, which could boost Mr. Bolduc and tarnish Ms. Hassan. But it surely is unclear whether those commitments will hold with Mr. Bolduc on the ballot.
Left on his own, Mr. Bolduc would enter the competition with Ms. Hassan at a severe drawback: He had just $84,000 in his campaign account as of late August, based on federal records. Ms. Hassan had $7.3 million. She has already spent hundreds of thousands on ads this 12 months to spice up her image, including one claiming that she is “ranked probably the most bipartisan senator,” but her approval has stalled in polls around 45 percent.
Still, facing Mr. Bolduc would bump Ms. Hassan, 64, down Democrats’ list of the incumbents they most have to defend to maintain control of the Senate and assure that President Biden shouldn’t be hamstrung in the rest of his term.
With Recent Hampshire’s primary elections so late within the 12 months, Mr. Bolduc has just eight weeks before the final election to maneuver beyond appeals to the Republican base and reach out to independents and conservative Democrats, voters who traditionally add to the coalition that Republican candidates have to win statewide in Recent Hampshire.
Mainstream Republicans within the state have been skeptical that Mr. Bolduc will have the opportunity to modulate his image after two years of appealing to the Trump-centric party base.
One reason he led in polls from the outset is that he had a yearlong head start over his rivals. The race was effectively frozen as Mr. Sununu, a top recruiting goal of national Republicans to face Ms. Hassan, weighed joining in. It was November by the point he decided to forgo a Senate bid and seek re-election as governor.
One shoe that never dropped was an endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Morse and his supporters waged a campaign to win the previous president’s approval, including a visit by Mr. Morse to Mr. Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Sept. 2.
Although the conversations were cordial, based on aides to each men, no endorsement ensued. After their meeting, Mr. Trump invited Mr. Morse and his team to have dinner at his club, but Mr. Trump didn’t join them.
On the eve of the election, Mr. Sununu — whom Mr. Bolduc once accused of being “a Chinese communist sympathizer” — suggested that if Mr. Bolduc became the nominee, he would endorse him.