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Six primary races to watch in New Hampshire and beyond

Associated Press/Mary Schwalm

Voters will be heading to the polls in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware next Tuesday to weigh in on some of the last primaries this year before turning their attention to November.

While the spotlight will be on New Hampshire’s Republican Senate primary, which will determine who takes on Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) in November, next week’s primaries will prove consequential in several gubernatorial and House races as well. 

Those primaries will determine whether Govs. Dan McKee (D) of Rhode Island and Chris Sununu (R) of New Hampshire prevail in their reelection bids, while several races in New Hampshire will determine who will take on two vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the House.

Here’s a look at the races we’re watching next week.

New Hampshire GOP Senate primary

Next week’s primary will be closely watched as Republicans determine which candidate they want to see go head to head with Hassan, who is vying for a second term in one of the year’s most competitive Senate races. She won her first term in 2016 by about a tenth of a percentage point, and Republicans are eager to see the seat flip. 

While the field has attracted close to a dozen GOP candidates, retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc and state Senate President Chuck Morse are seen as the leading candidates.

Bolduc has garnered controversy for previously supporting former President Trump’s claims that he won the 2020 election — claims from which Bolduc has recently backtracked — and for calling Sununu a “communist sympathizer.” He ran for Senate in 2020, losing the GOP nomination to Republican candidate Corky Messner. Messner later lost to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) by a 15-percentage point margin. 

Morse, considered the more establishment Republican, has focused on school choice, completing the wall at the southern border and reforming supply chain regulations. In a last-minute boost, Sununu announced on Thursday that he would be endorsing Morse.

Both Republicans and Democrats have poured money into the race. Republicans have spent money airing ads criticizing Bolduc, whom some in the GOP worry would be a weak candidate against Hassan, while Democrats have aired ads targeting Morse. 

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the seat as “lean Democrat.”

New Hampshire GOP gubernatorial primary

Sununu is seeking his fourth run for office after dashing hopes held among some Republicans that he would run for Senate. While he’s competing against a handful of candidates in the GOP primary, recent polling shows he’s likely to prevail.

Among some of the candidates vying for the chance to take on Sununu include U.S. Marine Corps veteran Julian Acciard, “biker” candidate Jay Lewis, professional logger Richard McMenamon II, small business owner Thad Riley and Karen Testerman, who served in Franklin, N.H., as a former city councilor. 

Despite Republican candidates targeting him over his criticism of Trump and how he’s dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, a University of New Hampshire Survey Center Granite State Poll released earlier this month shows Sununu on a likely easy reelection path.

The poll found that Sununu received 72 percent support among likely Republican primary voters compared to Riley, who placed second at 7 percent. 

New Hampshire 1st Congressional District GOP primary

The GOP primary to take on Rep. Chris Pappas (D.), who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District, has attracted a crowded field of candidates in a race that the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates as a “toss up.”

A University of New Hampshire Survey Center Granite State Poll released late last month showed two former Trump administration officials — former State Department official Matt Mowers (26 percent) and former White House assistant press secretary Karoline Leavitt (24 percent) — as the leading contenders among likely GOP primary voters. 

Other candidates running in the race include journalist Gail Huff Brown — the wife of former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) — former state Sen. Russell Prescott and state Rep. Tim Baxter, among others. If Mowers wins reelection, it would set up a rematch with Pappas. The two went head to head in 2020, with Pappas prevailing by a 5-percentage point margin. 

If Leavitt notches the GOP primary and wins the seat in November, she could be among the first Gen Z candidates to win office. 

New Hampshire 2nd Congressional District GOP primary

Voters will weigh in on seven Republican candidates next Tuesday eager to take on Rep. Ann Kuster (D) in November for the state’s 2nd Congressional District. 

Among those vying for the Republican nomination include bar manager and bartender Scott Black; Bob Burns, a former deputy state director for Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign; stone craft artist Michael Callis; Keene, N.H., Mayor George Hansel; Jay Mercer, a department head at New Hampshire Technical Institute and Rivier University; Army veteran Dean Poirier and Lily Tang Williams, who serves as supervisor of the checklist in Weare, N.H.

A University of New Hampshire Survey Center Granite State Poll released late last month showed Burns leading his Republican contenders with 32 percent among likely Republican primary voters, followed by Hansel with 18 percent. Williams placed third at 10 percent. 

The Cook Political Report rates the seat a “toss up.” 

Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial primary

Gov. Dan McKee (D) is looking to win his first full term as governor after he was elevated to the post in 2021 after then-Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) left office to serve as Commerce secretary under the Biden administration. 

McKee, who prior to his governorship served as the state’s lieutenant governor between 2015 and 2021, is facing four other challengers for the state’s top post: state Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, former state Secretary of State Matt Brown, former CVS executive Helena Foulkes and physician Luis Daniel Muñoz.

A 12 News-Roger Williams University Poll released in August showed McKee leading his Democratic contenders with 28 percent of support among Democratic primary voters in the state. Gorbea followed in second with 25 percent while Foulkes received 14 percent. Brown and Muñoz both received less than 10 percent.

The Cook Political Report rates the seat as “solid Democrat,” meaning whoever wins on Tuesday will be the heavy favorite in November. 

Rhode Island 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary

Rep. Jim Langevin (D) announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking reelection after serving for two decades in Congress, leaving the seat open in a race that Cook Political Reports rates as a “toss up.”

While only one Republican is running on the GOP side, five candidates are looking to secure the Democratic nomination. Those include state General Treasurer Seth Magaziner; former state lawmaker David Segal; former Commerce Department official Sarah Morgenthau; small business owner Joy Fox; and Refugee Dream Center founder Omar Bah.

Another Democratic candidate, Spencer Dickinson, suspended “the active part of his campaign,” The Providence Journal reported.

A 12 News-Roger Williams University Poll released in August shows Magaziner leading the pack by double digits with 37 percent support among Democratic primary voters in the state, followed by Segal and Morgenthau both with 8 percent. Fox, Bah and Dickinson both received less than 5 percent.

Tags Chris Pappas Chris Sununu Dan McKee Delaware don bolduc Gail Huff Brown Karoline Leavitt Maggie Hassan Maggie Hassan New Hampshire Rhode Island

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