It’s hard to put a positive spin on the Republican Senate candidate class when the party’s Senate leader can’t even muster the energy to pretend.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said at a Kentucky event earlier this month. “Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
As bad as things are for the party — Mehmet “crudité” Oz and Blake “everybody go read the Unabomber” Masters are trailing their Democratic foes significantly in purple states — Republicans are poised to add yet another deeply flawed candidate to the team.
Retired Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc appears to be leading the Republican pack in New Hampshire, based on what few polls have been done. A recent St. Anselm College one shows him doubling the support for Chuck Morse, the bland but establishment-preferred president of the state Senate.
Alas, Bolduc is a conspiracy theorist without a filter, someone who pals around with Michael Flynn and calls the state’s popular Republican governor a “Chinese communist sympathizer” whose family business “supports terrorism.” And just wait until you hear his thoughts on the 17th Amendment.
For Republicans, nominating a kook in this state is no small embarrassment. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) has been considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents since primary season started, approximately 100 years ago. She barely eked out her first win in 2016 and is still putting up lackluster approval numbers in the state.
While McConnell’s ding on his potential future colleagues was notably lacking in accountability, he may come to regret his failure to recruit New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) to run (Sununu said that McConnell’s strategy of comprehensive opposition made the idea of working at the Senate repellent) as one of the greatest lost opportunities of the cycle.
Here are five things to know about Bolduc before the New Hampshire primary on Sept. 13, the last competitive one of the year.
1. Weirdly, Chris ‘Chinese communist sympathizer’ Sununu is not a fan.
“He’s not a serious candidate, he’s really not, and if he were the GOP nominee I have no doubt we would have a much harder time,” Sununu said of Bolduc on local New Hampshire WGIR radio. “He’s kind of a conspiracy theorist-type candidate.”
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who’s declared himself on a mission to oust Sununu, agrees with his would-be oustee on Bolduc’s deficiencies.
“Chuck Morse and Kevin Smith and others would make the general election competitive,” Lewandowski told Politico of other Republicans in the race. “It makes it a winnable seat.”
Republicans in the state are generally looking to boost Morse instead, who McConnell also mentioned would make a good candidate after Sununu crushed GOP hopes and dreams.
2. But … what about kingmaker Trump?
Like a teen treasuring a scrap of paper bearing his crush’s handwriting, Bolduc has previously campaigned on the one crumb of praise former President Donald Trump tossed his way.
Back in 2021: “Congratulations to General Don Bolduc on his incredible presentation regarding Mark Milley, the Taliban and China’s all-time favorite General!” Trump cheered via his Save America PAC after Bolduc favorably impressed him on Fox and Friends.
That exclamatory tidbit has been followed by silence, however. Trump cast his lot with a different Republican when Bolduc was aiming to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in 2020, and has not yet waded into this year’s battle.
Lewandowski, hyping his peas-in-a-pod relationship with the former president, has suggested that Trump won’t endorse Bolduc.
The Republican field right now in New Hampshire is unsettled and largely undecided — the perfect environment for a headline endorsement to reshuffle things.
3. He’s a consistent election denier.
If Bolduc does win Trump’s support, it’ll likely have something to do with his commitment to doubting the results of the 2020 election — and promising to defy the results of the next one, should he be called to do so.
“I thought there was a tremendous amount of fraud,” he told the New Yorker, adding: “The FBI and Supreme Court must act swiftly when election irregularities are surfaced and not ignore them as was done in 2020.”
He also signed a May 2021 letter that opens with: “Our Nation is in deep peril. We are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776. The conflict is between supporters of Socialism and Marxism vs. supporters of Constitutional freedom and liberty.” It devolves into a MAGA greatest hits mixtape.
Any buyer’s remorse now, a year later and a year closer to likely having to appeal to some independents and conservative Democrats to win the seat?
“I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Donald Trump won the election and, damn it, I stand by” [it], Bolduc said during an August debate.
4. He’s innovative in his anti-government arguments.
During that same debate — which Morse skipped — Bolduc planted his flags on some other hot-button issues in the political discourse, like the 17th Amendment.
He said that he supports repealing the amendment, which requires the direct election of senators. Before it was ratified in 1913, that power lay with state legislatures. In an interesting coincidence, Republicans control both chambers of the New Hampshire state legislature.
Bolduc also mused over whether we should just scrap the FBI altogether.
“The first question we have to ask is, do we still need the FBI? If we answer that question no, then get rid of them,” he said. The remarks came on the heels of the Mar-a-Lago raid.
In a different debate last week, Bolduc neatly summed up his view of the government he’s trying to join, while giving the provision of the Inflation Reduction Act that lets Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices a thumbs down.
“Anything the government’s involved in, it’s not good, it doesn’t work,” he said.
5. He plays the hits.
Bolduc makes waves with his foreign policy stances too. In the last year, he called for the United States military to “get in there on the ground” in Ukraine. He’s also fully embraced the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic is “China’s fault,” because they developed it in a lab and let it escape.
Back stateside, he called Black Lives Matter protesters “domestic terrorists” and accused Bill Gates and George Soros of funding “domestic terrorist organizations” during the 2020 protests.
He’s also been an avid anti-vaxxer, again crediting Gates with unmatched supervillainy. The billionaire, Bolduc posits, wants to use the COVID-19 vaccine as an excuse to implant computer chips in an unwitting populace.
“The only bracelets anyone is going to put on me are handcuffs, because I’m fighting for my individual rights, my constitutional rights,” Bolduc said in a May 2020 YouTube video. “And the only chip that’s going in me is a Dorito.”