With a Sununu endorsement, Morse hopes to challenge Bolduc’s chances of taking on Maggie Hassan this November 

Monitor staff
Published: 9/9/2022 3:23:50 PM
Modified: 9/9/2022 3:23:29 PM

In a race with national implications, New Hampshire’s leading Republican is making his voice heard, opting to support the candidate focusing on economy rather than the one questioning the 2020 election.

Gov. Chris Sununu endorsed Senate President Chuck Morse in the Republican primary race for Senate on Thursday ahead of the Sept. 13 primary. Morse is up against Don Bolduc, a retired Army general, who asserts that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election. 

In recent polling by the University of New Hampshire, Bolduc is the clear front-runner for the seat with 43 percent among voters. Morse trails with 22 percent. The three other candidates – Bruce Fenton, a Free State supporter who invests in Bitcoin; businessman Vikram Mansharamani; and Kevin Smith, the former town manager of Londonderry – held support in the low single digits. 

All five candidates squared off in a WMUR-hosted debate on Thursday, articulating one last time their policy plans and desire to unseat Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, before voters head to the polls to determine her challenger.

Hassan, who narrowly won her 2016 race by 1,017 votes, is seeking re-election in a highly contested race. Cook’s Political Report has the race leaning toward a Hassan victory as Republicans look to regain control of the Senate. 

The candidates agree on numerous policy issues – inflation is too high as a result of too much spending. And New Hampshire’s state ruling to prevent abortion after 24 weeks should stand. 

“There is a solid New Hampshire law that allows a choice up to six months, and then after that, it forbids it except for the health of the mother should anything emerge," said Bolduc. "That's what a majority of Granite Staters want."

They also can agree that the size of government is overwhelming. Yet, the solutions vary. 

Morse turned a focus to a state’s responsibilities, with an emphasis on the success of the Granite State. New Hampshire operates without a sales and income tax and still provide for citizens, he said.

“Let’s take that to Washington and get them to understand what New Hampshire is doing,” he said. “If we can do it better in the states I think that’s where we should be taking care of things.”

Meanwhile, Smith and Fenton pointed to specific federal departments to cut including the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Bolduc echoed these cuts, and also called into question the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs – as a veteran himself. 

On immigration, Morse stands by building a wall at the Southern border of the country and does not support a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 

“We follow the laws that we have already in place in this country today,” he said. 

Bolduc agreed, stating the need to close the border and enforce legal immigration.

“We need to follow those processes,” he said. “No one is above the law, and that includes immigrants.”  

The race between Morse and Bolduc emphasizes the current split on the future identity of the Republican party in the aftermath of Trump’s presidency. On one side lies candidates like Morse, who focused his latest TV ad “Hard Work” on inflation and high gas prices.

At the other end, you have Bolduc, who positions himself as an outsider willing to challenge name-brand politicians and questions the authority and validity of government systems. 

 In an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio, Bolduc said he is concerned about voting system in New Hampshire. The election was not stolen, he clarified, but he did sign a letter alongside 120 other generals and admirals that questions the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

"We Republicans here in New Hampshire, we have a very big decision to make, and we have to get it right,” said Sununu, outside the Governor’s Mansion, as he announced his endorsement of Morse just five days before the primary.  “We will be nominating New Hampshire’s next United States Senator. And for the sake of this great state, we have to defeat Maggie Hassan in November and the best candidate to do that is Chuck Morse.” 


Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.

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