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Cook Political Report: GOP “Are Still Searching for a Top Recruit” Among “B-Tier Candidates”

With only eight months until the New Hampshire Senate primary, longtime New Hampshire GOP strategists are hitting the panic button, telling the Cook Political Report that Republicans are “blowing a prime opportunity” and that there’s “an open acknowledgment that what we’re looking at are B-tier candidates” and “Republicans are still searching for a top recruit.”

The new report makes clear that Republican infighting is already reaching a fever pitch — even before the primary field has taken shape. In interviews with Cook, Republicans had lots of bad things to say about the potential candidates. GOP operatives trashed Don Bolduc, the only candidate in the race, saying he “is not seen as a serious candidate.” Others criticized Chuck Morse, saying he left them the “least impressed as a potential statewide candidate” and is not a “dynamic and charismatic campaigner.” Among other potential candidates, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut was compared to Betsy DeVos and said to be “riskier” in a general election, while Bill Binnie was described as “out of step” with today’s GOP and a “polarizing figure.” Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith is characterized as having “challenges” for his “name ID,” with his only claims to fame being a 2012 GOP gubernatorial primary loss and running an extreme think tank.

These bad reviews for the field of potential GOP Senate candidates signals a rough start to 2022 for New Hampshire Republicans. And the primary will likely only get more vicious once candidates finally get dragged into the race.

Read key points from Cook Political Report’s analysis of the GOP’s “B-tier Candidates”:

  • “Nearly two months after Gov. Chris Sununu stunned in announcing he would run for re-election instead of challenging Hassan — which would have been perhaps the marquee Senate matchup of the cycle – there’s still no major viable GOP challenger who’s stepped up to run.”

  • “But there’s still a sense among Granite State GOP sources that they could be blowing a prime opportunity in what is shaping up to be one of the best political climates for Team Red in years.”

  • “Retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who unsuccessfully sought the nomination in 2020, is already in the race but is not seen as a serious candidate. 2020 nominee Corky Messner, who lost to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen by more than 15 points, has thrown his name out there too but had controversy during his lone political bid after moving to the state from Colorado isn’t seen as a viable contender. Former Rep. Frank Guinta [...] has also put his name out there but after his last loss in 2016 as mired in a campaign finance scandal, Republican sources in the state scoff at the viability of a comeback bid.”

  • “Of the four most oft-mentioned candidates, it’s Morse that leaves sources who talked to us the least impressed as a potential statewide candidate. Described as a policy wonk, one source said he wasn’t a “terribly dynamic and charismatic campaigner” and would suffer in a GOP primary as being part of the establishment, a characterization several other sources agreed with.”

  • “He’s [Edelblut] staked out conservative positions while in office, backing school vouchers and charter schools, and has irked Democrats in a way that former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did. He could run strong in a primary, but would be the more conservative choice in the field and that could prove riskier in a general election.”

  • “During his [Bill Binnie’s] 2010 race, layoffs he made at companies he’d acquired became fodder, as did his more moderate views than the rest of the field, including his pro-choice positions. That would put him out of step with the Republican Party of today, as it was a decade ago, and he’s a polarizing figure within the state GOP.”

  • “He [Smith] gained cred in conservative circles for a think tank he ran, Cornerstone Policy Research, which led fights against the legalization of gay marriage in the state before it became legal in 2010. His lone previous run for office came in 2012 for governor, in which he handily lost the GOP nomination to Ovide Lamontagne, who went on to lose the general to Hassan” [...] “Unlike others who have been in state news regularly, Smith could face challenges growing his name ID in the state”

Read the full article at


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