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Trump-backed candidates win in New Hampshire GOP primary

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Bryant “Corky” Messner won the Republican primary for US Senate on Tuesday, defeating a fellow veteran and setting up a bid to deny U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen a third term.

Messner, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, defeated Retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc and longshot candidates Andy Martin and Gerard Beloin in the GOP primary.

“We’re not going to celebrate, we’re going to unify,” he told supporters at a gathering organized by the Trump campaign. “I’m not celebrating anything, I’m going to work, because we have a big mission ahead of us.”

The 63-year-old Army veteran and attorney cast himself as a political outsider, saying he gained leadership experience in the military and private sector after founding a Denver law firm that has expanded to eight other cities. Bolduc, his main opponent, tried to use that outsider label against him, contrasting his deep roots to New Hampshire with Messner’s relatively recent arrival from Colorado.

After owning a vacation home in Wolfeboro for many years, Messner only made it his permanent residence about two years ago. But he said voters rarely brought that up to him, and that his background and ideas won them over.

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Messner poured nearly $3.8 million of his own money into his campaign, making up nearly 90% of the total he raised as of Aug. 19. He had $2.5 million on hand, compared to Shaheen, who had raised $15.6 million by that date and had $7.2 million left. Both are likely to rake in substantial sums raised nationally before the general election, however.

“They better not underestimate me,” Messner said. “We are coming for Jeanne Shaheen.”

Shaheen, 73, the first woman in U.S. history to serve as both governor and U.S. senator, easily defeated two longshot challengers in her primary, former state Rep. Tom Alciere and retired dentist Paul Krautmann. She has touted her record of working across party lines to make a difference for New Hampshire families, on issues including veterans' access to health care and helping small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“When it comes to making a difference for New Hampshire, she gets the job done, and her record stands in sharp contrast to whoever the Republicans nominate tonight,” said her campaign manager, Harrell Kirstein.

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Feltes claims victory but Volinsky not conceding primary

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Two Concord attorneys hoping to upgrade their Statehouse experience are competing in Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, while Republican Gov. Chris Sununu easily defeated two longshots on the GOP ballot.

Democrats Dan Feltes and Andru Volinsky both have emphasized their blue-collar upbringings and early experience as lawyers. Feltes worked as a legal aid attorney before being elected to the state Senate in 2014.

Volinsky was the lead counsel in a landmark education funding lawsuit in the 1990s before being elected to the Executive Council in 2016. That lawsuit led to rulings that firmly established the state’s obligation to provide and pay for an adequate education, but the lack of progress since then drove Volinsky into the governor’s race.

Unlike Feltes, he did not take the traditional pledge to veto a sales or income tax, and believes all options should be on the table. On the Executive Council, Volinsky has been a vocal opponent of many of Sununu’s appointments, including the governor’s failed nomination of Attorney General Gordon MacDonald as state Supreme Court chief justice.

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Feltes, meanwhile, believes closing corporate loopholes would provide enough revenue to boost funding for schools, and highlights the current state budget, which significantly increased education funding. In his three terms in the Senate, he sponsored legislation on paid family medical leave, clean energy, worker protection and other Democratic priorities. But many of his bills got vetoed by Sununu, who has called both Democrats out of touch and unprepared to lead New Hampshire.

In the GOP primary, Sununu faced longtime conservative activist Karen Testerman, of Franklin, and Nobody, a Keene man who officially changed his name from Rich Paul. Though his opponents criticized him, Sununu has enjoyed widespread support for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic as he seeks a third, two-year term.

In a statement, he said he was humbled and grateful for his win Tuesday night.

“We put a great team together for our state and provided the leadership necessary to guide New Hampshire through these unprecedented times,” he said. “Many of our biggest challenges still lay ahead, and in 2021 New Hampshire will need the management experience to promote businesses, keep our state safe, and invigorate economic opportunity for families. Others just talk — I believe in results. We will keep getting the job done.”

The son of a former governor, Sununu was the youngest governor in the country when he took office in 2017 at age 42. While fellow Republicans held a majority in the Legislature during his first term, Democrats won majorities in 2018, prompting him to set a record for vetoed legislation.

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Sununu has been a supporter of President Donald Trump, though he did not attend the president’s recent rally in Londonderry beyond greeting him as he arrived. Trump lost New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Democrats hold all four seats in the state’s Congressional delegation.

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Mowers, Negron win NH GOP primaries, to face Pappas, Kuster

A former official in President Donald Trump’s State Department will take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas in November in a race that will offer stark solutions to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the economic toll it has taken on New Hampshire.

Matt Mowers, a 31-year-old former Trump official, defeated Matt Mayberry, a 55-year-old Air Force veteran and realtor, on the Republican side in the 1st District. Mowers has praised Trump’s coronavirus response and called production of supplies in the coronavirus fight to be shifted from China to the United States. He also has promised to fight illegal immigration and support congressional term limits.

“Voters across the First District have severe buyer’s remorse with Chris Pappas, who campaigned as an independent voice and then sadly went to Washington and voted with Nancy Pelosi and her liberal agenda 100% of the time,” Mowers said. “I’m humbled at the support from Granite Staters, and pledge to offer a new vision of leadership that will deliver results for middle class families.”

Pappas, a freshman lawmaker, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

In a speech to supporters in Manchester, Pappas played up his roots in the city where his family runs a restaurant. He also highlighted his ability to work with Republicans on legislation and hold leaders in Washington, D.C., accountable — including his complaints early on that they weren’t doing enough for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. He also talked about his work on the behalf of veterans.

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“I hear from Granite Staters every day who are losing their jobs, losing their healthcare, losing their businesses, and losing loved ones,” Pappas told supporters gathered at a Manchester millyard. “This is not a time for politics as usual, it’s an all hands on deck moment where we must redouble our efforts to save our workers, small businesses, and communities from financial ruin.”

Mowers and Mayberry were among five candidates running for a seat representing the district that covers the eastern part of the state, including parts of greater Manchester, the Lakes Region and the Seacoast.

Mowers was the favorite, having outraised Mayberry by about 4-1 and picked up a coveted endorsement from Trump. Mayberry responded by accusing Mowers of being a carpetbagger looking to move back to New Hampshire just to win a House seat.

Mowers said he moved back to New Hampshire last year but has been active in New Hampshire politics since 2013. Mowers worked for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie while he was governor and ran his 2016 presidential primary campaign in New Hampshire. Mowers was the executive director of the New Hampshire GOP from 2013 to 2015.

The pandemic made voting in the primary much different this year, allowing people to request absentee ballots. More than 100,000 such requests were filed for the election in New Hampshire, and at least 75,000 of them have been returned, according to the secretary of state’s office.

In the other House race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, seeking her fifth term representing the 2nd District, easily defeated Joseph Mirzoeff.

In a statement, Kuster said she would continue to fight to lower prescription drug prices, advocate on behalf of veterans and protect the environment if she is re-elected in November’s general election.

“I’m running for re-election because as we face the COVID-19 pandemic it is more important than ever that we focus on our shared goals and work together to lift all Granite State families,” she said.

Kuster will face Steve Negron in a rematch of their 2018 race. Negron beat Lynne Blankenbeker, a combat nurse and Navy Reserve captain from Concord, in the Republican primary. Negron is a former state House member who owns a defense engineering and consulting company in Nashua.

The 59-year-old Negron has called for reducing health care costs, a strong national defense and a secure border. Trump hasn’t endorsed anyone in the 2nd District but Negron supports the president.

“We now continue the fight to unseat Ann Kuster and reform dysfunctional Washington. Tonight’s win demonstrated that New Hampshire wants more from representation,” Negron said in a statement. “The hard work doesn’t stop here. We need to hit the ground running to bring New Hampshire’s voice back to Washington; defending our small state voice, law and order, and confronting the lies of the Pelosi/Kuster agenda.”

The 2nd District race encompasses a mostly rural district that stretches from New Hampshire’s border with Canada to the Massachusetts line.