In case you missed it, in her column for the Union Leader, Kathy Sullivan, the former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, dissects last week’s underwhelming NH GOP Senate primary launch — covering everything from Kevin Smith and Chuck Morse’s botched rollouts to the extreme, anti-choice records of the entire field.
Read the column below:
THERE ARE NOW three Republican candidates in the 2022 race against U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan. It may not be the final lineup, as so far none has proven to be a stellar candidate.
After Republicans failed to recruit Gov. Chris Sununu or any other establishment-approved candidate with statewide name recognition, the party turned to state Senate President Chuck Morse. Last week, Morse made the bold announcement that he is going to announce that he is running.
It was an inauspicious beginning. Morse declined to discuss any policy differences with Hassan, saying, “Specifics on my positions will all come out toward the end of this month.”
The political press had been waiting on this news for weeks, giving Morse his best opportunity to introduce himself with energy and enthusiasm. Instead, he punted.
Comments from political pundits indicate that Morse will base his campaign on keeping taxes low, a platform used by nearly every person who has ever run for office in New Hampshire. But if nominated, he will be running against a former two term governor who really did keep taxes low.
Morse will have difficulty hiding his record as an architect of the unpopular, extreme right-wing legislative agenda that has caused Sununu’s poll numbers to plummet. Morse helped pass legislation containing an abortion ban that requires an involuntary invasive medical procedure for all women seeking an abortion, no matter their age or circumstances, and with no exception for rape or incest.
With his help, Republican legislators passed a bill that, if signed by Sununu, will permit carrying guns on public school grounds, including meetings with school staffs, graduations and athletic events such as basketball or football games.
What could possibly go wrong?
Morse’s lackadaisical announcement prompted Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith to announce he is resigning to run for the Senate seat as well. Smith is a former director of Cornerstone Policy Research, where he supported banning abortions and vociferously attacked Gov. John Lynch for signing marriage equality legislation.
Smith will try to divert attention from his unpopular social views by touting recent economic development in Londonderry. He will not credit the efforts of New Hampshire’s Democratic governors Hassan, Lynch and Jeanne Shaheen, and by Shaheen and Hassan in the U.S. Senate, to procure the federal and state funding for the twin engines that are really driving that development: Interstate 93 expansion and the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
Despite being a long-time beneficiary of taxpayer-funded government employment, both in Londonderry and on the staffs of former Sen. Bob Smith and former Gov. Craig Benson, we can expect Smith to attack government spending.
The candidacies of Morse and Smith have not deterred retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc from continuing his campaign. Bolduc, who lost the Republican Senate primary two years ago, is running as a political outsider. It is an effective contrast against Smith and Morse, two long-term members of the New Hampshire Republican establishment.
Unlike Morse and Smith, Bolduc and the Republican political establishment do not get along. Bolduc has been an outspoken critic of Sununu and GOP leadership. Meanwhile, an anonymous “GOP insider” described Bolduc as “running as a lunatic” in NH Journal, a harsh indictment of a war hero who is the recipient of five Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
Admittedly, Bolduc does tend toward unfounded, Trumpesque conspiracy theories, such as the weird rumor that anti-COVID vaccines contain computer chips. This led Bolduc to say one of the most memorable lines of the 2020 Republican primary: “the only chip going in me is a Dorito.” You will not hear anything like that from the staid Smith and Morse. They will be too busy saying “cut taxes,” “second amendment” and “school choice” while assiduously avoiding any mention of Donald Trump, Jan. 6 and 2024.
It is a weak field, and each candidate has significant flaws. If this is the final group of primary candidates, Republicans may find themselves on the wrong side of an enthusiasm gap.