Over the Next Five Months, the “Messy,” GOP Senate Primary is About to Get Even More Chaotic
Three months into 2022, and the reviews are in: voters are feeling a “general dissatisfaction” with the B-Tier Republican candidates.
This should come as no surprise, considering that for the entirety of the NH GOP primary thus far, Chuck Morse, Kevin Smith, and Don Bolduc have done nothing but oppose relief for Granite Staters, take the politically toxic position of opposing suspending the gas tax, and make constant campaign blunders that have left the GOP with little to no confidence in the three candidates.
With five months to go until the September primary, we can expect the primary to get even messier and more chaotic with the entrance of a new, extreme candidate and more involvement from Mitch McConnell and his dark money special interests.
Read more about the state of the NH GOP Senate primary:
Extreme Candidate Shakes Up the “Anonymous GOP Senate Primary.” On Wednesday, hours after one of the premier conservative radio shows released a poll that shows 53% of respondents wanted a fourth candidate to join the US Senate primary, an extreme candidate did just that. Bruce Fenton, who is “a bitcoin millionaire investor from Durham,” and is affiliated with the Free State Project – a fringe group of individuals who support seceding from the United States – announced he is running for US Senate. Fenton went on the offensive last week, attacking his then-potential opponents for their lackluster campaigns, saying, “you can’t run on a playbook built in the last 30 years because that world is gone,” and he hasn’t “seen anybody talking with the level of urgency and importance that I feel about these issues.” Fenton’s campaign announcement is the latest sign that there is a “vacuum” from which “a viable GOP candidate has yet to emerge” in New Hampshire’s “anonymous GOP Senate primary.”
Morse, Smith, and Bolduc Take Politically Toxic Position of Opposing Gas Tax Holiday. Despite wide bipartisan support for a gas tax holiday, Morse, Smith, and Bolduc have focused their campaigns on opposing Senator Hassan’s proposal to suspend the gas tax. New Hampshire Republican Senate candidates are literally running against lower gas taxes, and it’s put them at odds with state Republican leadership and Granite Staters. This position is so toxic that Morse was forced to cave on his opposition – despite spending the last couple of months making it a central plank of his campaign and repeatedly attacking the idea. The candidates’ opposition to suspending the gas tax has “revealed splits among Republicans running for other offices,” like Smith, who was at odds with a fellow Republican at a GOP press conference last month for opposing Senator Hassan’s proposal to suspend the gas tax. One political observer even noted that the GOP field’s relentless opposition to a gas tax holiday has “established their entire brand about just being against things, not being for things.”
Morse, Smith, and Bolduc Solidify Themselves As “B-Tier” Candidates. The Republicans running for Senate have solidified themselves as the GOP’s “B-Tier” candidates, making multiple campaign blunders and stumbling their way through the GOP primary. Weeks after announcing that he was running for Senate, Chuck Morse couldn’t name a past Supreme Court justice who he admired, blamed Americans for the war in Ukraine, said that he played the board game Risk to learn about national security, and tried – and failed – to hide his “long record as a state lawmaker of opposing carbon-cutting policies” by saying he has done more for “climate change than anyone” because he has planted trees. Kevin Smith also had an underwhelming first few months as a candidate. He has yet to appear on NH Today with Chris Ryan, one of the premier political talk radio shows in the state, was slammed for repeating Russian propaganda and was exposed for his record of being a no-show state representative. And Don Bolduc attended a meeting held by the Rochester 9/12 Project, a fringe extremist group led by convicted insurrectionist Jerry Delemus, made it clear that he would have voted against billions of dollars in federal relief to help Ukraine and funding for public safety and national security, support for service members, and was put on blast for paying for his biggest campaign endorsement.
McConnell Looms Over the Senate Primary. This week, NBC released a poll that showed 48 percent of people would be less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Mitch McConnell in 2022. This is bad news for Chuck Morse, Kevin Smith, and Don Bolduc who have all spent the last three months running to get McConnell’s blessing in the NH GOP Senate primary. They’ve repeated his Big Oil talking points and even refused to condemn the Republican plan to raise federal income taxes on Granite Staters. Mitch McConnell is toxic, and he continues to insert himself into the NH GOP primary. McConnell has touted Chuck Morse in interviews with national reporters, one of McConnell’s former staffers at the National Republican Senatorial Committee is working for General Don Bolduc, and Kevin Smith took time away from his taxpayer-funded job to travel to meet with McConnell’s campaign arm and his top lieutenant, Senator Rick Scott. Meanwhile, McConnell’s shady corporate special interests have spent months dumping millions of dollars in false attack ads into the state. Over the next five months, all of the GOP Senate candidates will have to battle it out to see who can win McConnell’s support.