New Hampshire state Senate President Chuck Morse (R), an establishment favorite, early Wednesday conceded defeat to retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc, who has espoused former President Trump’s false 2020 election claims, in the state’s Republican primary to face incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) in November.
The Associated Press has not yet called the race for Bolduc, but he leads Morse by 1 percentage point with more than 80 percent of the vote reported.
Morse tweeted early in the morning that he called Bolduc to congratulate him and said that the focus needs to be on defeating Hassan in November.
“It’s been a long night & we’ve come up short. I want to thank my supporters for all the blood, sweat & tears they poured into this team effort,” he said.
The race is expected to be one of the most competitive of the cycle as Republicans attempt to regain the majority in the Senate while Democrats try to maintain and expand their majority. Hassan won her first term in 2016 by one-tenth of a point.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates her seat as “lean Democrat.”
Republicans have seen Hassan’s seat as a prime pickup opportunity, but they have grown worried in recent weeks that Bolduc’s nomination could make winning the seat more difficult.
Bolduc has falsely claimed Trump won the 2020 presidential election and once accused the state’s governor, Chris Sununu (R), of being a “Chinese communist sympathizer.”
Bolduc also made a bid for the Senate GOP nomination in 2020 to run against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) but lost to Republican Corky Messner.
Sununu has called Bolduc a “conspiracy theorist-type candidate” and said in a radio interview in August that Republicans would have a harder time defeating Hassan if Bolduc is the nominee.
Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager, also cautioned the former president against making a possible endorsement for Bolduc, saying in a piece for the Daily Caller last month that “Bolduc is not a serious candidate.”
Trump did not officially endorse anyone for the GOP nomination.
Sununu made a last-minute endorsement for Morse but said last weekend that he would back whoever won the Republican nomination.
Morse also received endorsements from the New Hampshire Union Leader, the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund and the National Rifle Association.