Republicans botched Senate recruitment in New Hampshire — and Trump’s endorsement may not help: report
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Gage Skidmore.)

Republicans may have seriously hindered their efforts to win the U.S. Senate in the 2022 midterm elections after tumultuous efforts at candidate recruitment.

"Last fall, Republicans were nearly salivating over the opportunity to defeat Democratic US Senator Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, and with that flip the 50-50 Senate back to Republican control," James Pindell wrote for the Boston Globe. "All the pieces were coming into place. Hassan had low approval ratings. President Biden, himself, was becoming more unpopular according to the polling."

Republicans hoped Hassan would be challenged by popular GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, who is the son of a former New Hampshire governor and brother of a man who once held the state's other Senate seat.

"Then it all changed. And one tactical move may have cost the Republicans dearly," Pindell wrote. "First, Sununu announced in early November that he would not be a candidate. Minutes later, former US Senator Kelly Ayotte also declined to run in what would be a rematch with Hassan from 2016. Roughly 30 minutes after that, Scott Brown, the 2014 Senate Republican nominee, also declined a run. Suddenly all the big name Republicans were sitting out on what was still a big chance opportunity."

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Republicans recruited state Senate President Chuck Morse, but he waited months to announce his bid.

"Had he entered the race in November, he likely would have found the field essentially cleared for him. The one Republican already in the race, former Brigadier General Don Bolduc, wasn’t raising the money needed to compete with the $14 million Hassan had already raised," he explained. "Morse’s hesitance created a vacuum and a belief that there wasn’t anyone committed to running. Soon Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, [an] affable former candidate for governor, was being talked into running."

The picture of the race looks far different than a year ago, when Sununu looked likely to run.

"In the end, Smith and Morse announced their candidacies within a day of each other. Neither is a more dominant presence than the other. This race went from a likely Republican takeover to who knows what," Pindell wrote. "Meanwhile here is the real twist: a poll out last week from Saint Anselm College found that while Hassan would beat all Republican challengers, the one who had the best chance to defeat her was Bolduc, the candidate the establishment has shunned because they don’t think he can win."

Donald Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate, but it might hindered a GOP nominee in the general election.

"While Trump could be helpful to Republicans if he made an endorsement soon, it should be noted that in 2020 the state didn’t for vote Trump and didn’t vote for the people he endorsed for Senate or Congress, either. So it is unclear if the Trump endorsement would be a problem for a candidate in the general election," he noted.

Read the full report.

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