On the trail: State Senate president Morse moves closer to launching Senate campaign

  • New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse speaks to a reporter in the executive council chambers at the Statehouse, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Concord, N.H. For two days only, Senate President Morse is New Hampshire's governor. The Republican landed in the state's top job due to a unique political time, with Maggie Hassan resigning to become a U.S. Senator two days before Republican Gov.-elect Chris Sununu is officially sworn in. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Elise Amendola

  • Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., second from left, is applauded by her husband Tom, far left, and Speaker of the House, Democrat Terie Norelli, center, and Republican Senate President Chuck Morse, after delivering her State of the State Address at the Statehouse Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 in Concord, N.H.(AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

  • Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., left, is applauded by the joint session of the legislature and Speaker of the House, Democrat Terie Norelli, center, and Reupublican Senate President Chuck Morse, before delivering her State of the State Address at the Statehouse Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

For the Monitor
Published: 1/7/2022 4:43:40 PM
Modified: 1/7/2022 4:43:00 PM

State Senate President Chuck Morse took another step towards launching a Republican campaign for U.S. Senate in hopes of challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan.

The longtime state senator from Salem brought onboard New Hampshire based longtime GOP consultant David Carney and his Norway Hill Associates firm on Friday to help him as he prepares for a potential U.S. Senate bid.

Carney, a veteran of numerous presidential and statewide Republican campaigns over the past four decades, told the Monitor that he and his firm are “looking forward to working with Chuck as he puts together a roadmap to jumping into the race and winning.”

Gov. Chris Sununu announced nearly two months ago that he wouldn’t launch a 2022 Republican challenge against Hassan, his predecessor in the corner office. The governor’s decision, which made national news, left the GOP primary race wide open.

Morse, who was heavily mulling a run for governor if Sununu decided against running for reelection, told reporters soon after Sununu’s announcement that he was seriously thinking of launching a Senate campaign.

Sources close to Morse told the Monitor on Friday to expect more news in the coming weeks regarding the state senate president’s likely U.S. Senate candidacy.

Another likely candidate for the Republican Senate nomination is Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith.

Smith told WMUR’s John DiStaso on Thursday that he intends to make  an announcement in the coming week about his potential candidacy after holding successful talks with prospective donors that he said led to financial commitments.

“It has been an exciting process to go through and you can expect some news about a decision on me running next week,” Smith said in a statement.

New Hampshire education commission and former gubernatorial candidate Frank Edelblut is also mulling a Senate campaign, as are investment and media executive and 2010 Senate candidate Bill Binnie, and former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta.

There’s only one Republican who’s a declared candidate in the Senate race. That’s retired Gen. Don Bolduc, the runner up for the 2020 GOP Senate nomination, who launched his campaign over a year ago.

Senate Republicans need a net gain of just one seat in the 2022 midterms to win back the majority in the chamber that they lost a year ago, when they were swept in the Jan. 5, 2021 twin runoff elections in Georgia.

While the GOP’s defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs in 2022, including five open seats, they view four Democratic senators in extremely competitive general election battleground states as very vulnerable. And thanks to her lackluster polling position throughout most of 2021, Hassan’s one of the four.

To make matters worse for the Democrats, they’re up against historical headwinds – the party that wins the White House almost always suffers electoral setbacks in the ensuing midterm elections – and are currently facing an unfavorable political climate.

Hassan builds her campaign war chest

Beating Hassan won’t be easy with her history of winning difficult elections. She won a second term as governor in 2014, during wave election year for Republicans. And she narrowly defeated incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte in a marathon Senate battle in 2016.

And Hassan is continuing to haul in campaign cash.

The senator’s campaign committee, Maggie for NH, announced on Friday that it brought in $3.1 million October-December fourth quarter of fundraising, with $5.3 million cash on hand as of the end of 2021. Hassan’s raised $14.4 million to date for the entire election cycle.

But the senator’s also spent $9.1 million over the past year. Even with Sununu deciding against challenging the senator, Hassan continues to spend money to run campaign commercials on TV and online.

Hassan 2022 campaign manager Aaron Jacobs pledged in a statement to the Monitor that “over the next 10 months, our campaign will be in every community talking to voters about Senator Hassan’s work to grow New Hampshire’s economy, lower costs for Granite Staters, and keep our country safe, secure, and free.”

Pappas asks Biden to reconsider COVID vaccine and testing mandates

The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Friday appeared skeptical of President Joe Biden’s move to combat the coronavirus pandemic by mandating COVID vaccine or testing requirements at large businesses across the country.

In a separate challenge, the high court justices seemed more open to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for certain health care workers.

On the eve of the nearly four hours of arguments in front of the Supreme Court, Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas urged the president to reconsider his push for mandates.

Teaming up with Rep. Fred Keller, a Pennsylvania Republican, Pappas in a statement and on Twitter announced that the two lawmakers “reached out to President Biden to share concerns over the impact the Vaccination & Testing Emergency Temporary Standard will have on smaller businesses and asked that it be reconsidered to take into account realities on the ground facing employers & workers.”

Pappas, who likely faces a challenging reelection in November as he runs for a third term representing New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, noted that “vaccines remain a safe and essential part of the COVID-19 public health effort.”

Still, a mandate was too much, Pappas said.

“Asking private businesses to enforce a vaccinate-or-test requirement is unnecessarily burdensome to struggling businesses in our districts and unrealistic given the lack of testing capacity,” Pappas said.

Pappas and Keller said they “believe that a more realistic approach is needed to encourage vaccinations, ensure workplace safety, and support our local economies that are just getting back on their feet.”




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