Retired Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc has apparently triumphed over both New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse and the establishment Republicans who tried to stifle his ascendancy, fearing that he’s too extreme to win the general election.
Morse conceded early Wednesday morning, though ballots are still being counted.
“It’s been a long night & we’ve come up short,” he tweeted. “I want to thank my supporters for all the blood, sweat & tears they poured into this team effort. I just called and wished all the best to @GenDonBolduc. The focus this fall needs to be on defeating Maggie Hassan.”
NBC News, the only network to make the call so far, has projected a Bolduc victory. The Associated Press has also not yet called the race.
Bolduc, who unsuccessfully ran for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) seat in 2020, will now face Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in November.
Bolduc had been consistently leading in polls of Republican voters, though most surveys reflected a high degree of uncertainty among voters. It’s the kind of landscape in which an infusion of ad buys, or a big endorsement, could have made a difference.
Morse benefitted from the first. In the final weeks of the campaign, a PAC linked to an ally of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dumped $4 million into the race to boost the low-key state senator.
It did not prove enough to knock out Bolduc, who has suggested that the FBI might need to be abolished and called for the 17th Amendment to be repealed.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee embraced Bolduc on Wednesday.
“The NRSC is proud to stand with Don Bolduc as we turn New Hampshire red and flip the U.S. Senate,” chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said in a statement.
Neither candidate benefited from the coveted Donald Trump endorsement — though both tried to get it. Morse said that he had a phone call with the former President where he fielded his questions and listened to his thoughts.
“He certainly has some strong opinions,” he relayed in classic understatement to the Washington Post.
A right-wing radio host tried to convince Trump to go with Bolduc earlier this month. Trump called him a “strong guy, tough guy,” but danced around committing to the endorsement.
Ultimately, Trump kept his powder dry.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R), who national Republicans courted to run against Hassan, has been disparaging Bolduc, who once called him a “Chinese communist sympathizer.”
“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.”
Still, Sununu said that he’d support Bolduc in the general if it came to it.
Bolduc’s victory is widely seen as a boon for Hassan, who is one of the most vulnerable incumbents as Democrats fight to hold on to their Senate majority.