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In New Hampshire, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Governor Chris Sununu both easily win reelection

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen raised her arms after claiming victory at a gathering with supporters on Tuesday in Manchester, N.H. Shaheen faced Republican businessman Corky Messner.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen raised her arms after claiming victory at a gathering with supporters on Tuesday in Manchester, N.H. Shaheen faced Republican businessman Corky Messner.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, easily won reelection over Bryant “Corky” Messner, a Republican, on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press, which declared her a winner the very moment after the polls closed in the Granite State.

Governor Chris Sununu also dispatched a Democratic challenger, easily winning a second term. The AP also called this race the moment the last polls in the state closed at 8 p.m. Sununu is the only Republican governor in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016 who endorsed President Trump’s reelection.

Shaheen had already earned a spot in American political history by being the first woman ever to serve as both governor and senator, which she was first elected to in 2008. But with this win, Shaheen now becomes the first Democrat in New Hampshire history to win a full third term to the US Senate, and the first Democrat in state history to win major office six times, with her previous three elections to governor.

Unlike her three previous campaigns for US Senate, one of which she narrowly lost in 2002, the 2020 contest was never close. In fact, it is the first time in 16 years that a New Hampshire Senate race wasn’t seriously contested.

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Two first-time candidates faced off in a Republican primary to challenge her. Messnerstarted a law firm in Colorado before retiring to New Hampshire in 2018. He largely bankrolled his campaign and received the critical endorsement of Trump in July. Those factors lifted to him to an eight-point win over retired US Army Brigadier General Donald Bolduc in September.

However, since that September primary win, Messner has struggled to get any momentum against Shaheen for the general election. Shaheen has led every poll all year by double digits. The most recent campaign finance reports showed Shaheen raised $18.9 million for the campaign and had $3 million on hand for the final weeks. Messner loaned $6 million of the $6.8 million he raised overall and had $1.6 million available to spend for the final stretch.

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It didn’t necessarily have to be this way. Washington, D.C., Republicans tried to recruit Sununu, the popular Republican governor, to run against Shaheen, but he opted for reelection instead.

Sununu defeated Dan Feltes, the youngest state Senate majority leader in New Hampshire history.

The Senate general election campaign that did exist was largely one where Messner was constantly on the defense. As Shaheen did in her 2014 reelection campaign against former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, who also just moved to his vacation home ahead of running, the Democrat made the case the Republican was a carpetbagger, dubbing him “Colorado Corky.”


There is considerable speculation among Democrats that Shaheen, 73, just ran her last race.




James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell.