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FIRST ON FOX: New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse pledged to “finish” former President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in a new television commercial that launches with just two weeks to go until primary day in the key general election battleground state.
Morse, a longtime small business owner, is one of the major contenders in the race for the state’s GOP Senate nomination, which is the last of the competitive and high-profile Republican Senate primaries in a crucial swing state this election cycle.
The winner of the Sept. 13 primary will face off in November’s midterms with former governor and first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, who the GOP views as vulnerable. The contest is one of handful across the nation that could determine if Republicans win back the Senate majority.
“Chuck Morse built his business the 603 way,” says the narrator in the new spot, which was shared first with Fox News on Monday. “Hard work. New Hampshire workers. No illegals. That’s the way it should be.”
“But Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are failing us. Fentanyl. Criminals. Even terrorists are taking advantage of our open border crisis,” the narrator argues as he points to an opioid crisis that has heavily impacted New Hampshire. “Chuck Morse is running to make things right. Chuck Morse will back law enforcement, finish President Trump’s wall and stop the flood of crime and drugs.”
The Morse campaign tells Fox News that they’ll spend $300,000 to run the ad starting Tuesday statewide on broadcast and cable TV in the Granite State. And the campaign estimates that by primary day they’ll have dished out over $1 million to run ads.
Morse is the only major ad spender in a race that also includes retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc, who’s making a second run for the Senate, cryptocurrency entrepreneur Bruce Fenton, former Londonderry, New Hampshire, town manager Kevin Smith, and businessman, economist and author Vikram Mansharamani.
Bolduc, who for a second straight cycle has struggled with fundraising, is the polling front-runner in a race that to date has seen a dearth of public opinion surveys. Bolduc held a double-digit lead over Morse in recent numbers from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center, with everyone else in single digits and nearly four in 10 questioned still undecided.
Bolduc, who launched his current campaign just days after the 2020 election and has been running for the Senate most of the past three years, appears to be boosted by name identification in a primary battle where none of the other major candidates are well known outside the narrow political activist class.
And after keeping his distance and failing to land the then-president’s endorsement in the 2020 cycle, Bolduc has become a strong supporter of Trump’s unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” and “stolen.” Bolduc, who served 10 tours of duty in the war in Afghanistan, was part of a group of retired generals who signed a letter questioning the legitimacy of the election due to what they charged was “a tremendous amount of fraud.”
While Trump has remained neutral in the primary battle, Bolduc on Monday landed the backing of nationally syndicated conservative talk radio host John Fredericks, who chaired Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns in Virginia. And former Trump White House chief strategist and former media executive Steve Bannon has heavily promoted Bolduc on his program. But longtime Trump political adviser Corey Lewandowski, who managed Trump’s 2016 presidential primary campaign, has heavily criticized Bolduc.
“General Bolduc’s message is working. He’s meeting the voters where they are and connecting with them because he’s endured most of the hardships they have. He understands what they’ve gone through and can relate to their pain, and that comes from his life of service,” Bolduc senior adviser Rick Wiley told Fox News. “He’s the only candidate inspiring voters in this primary and his common sense message has broad appeal because the hardships people have gone through aren’t partisan, but they are personal.”
While Bolduc has given New Hampshire conservatives plenty of red meat, there are concerns from some in the GOP political operative class that a primary victory by the retired general will allow Hassan to win re-election.
One of those critics is Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.
“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 during a recent interview on a statewide morning radio talk program. “He’s kind of a conspiracy theorist-type candidate.”
Bolduc claimed last year that Sununu was a “communist Chinese sympathizer” and that the Sununu family’s business “supports terrorism.” While Bolduc has walked back those attacks on the popular governor, he continues to criticize Sununu’s policies during the coronavirus pandemic as “executive overreach.”
The GOP Senate primary was basically frozen for a year, as Sununu was heavily recruited by national Republicans hoping to land an A-lister to take on Hassan. But the governor rocked the political world last November by announcing that he would run for re-election rather than launch a Senate campaign.
Bolduc has repeatedly claimed that Sununu decided against a Senate bid out of concerns that Bolduc would be hard to beat in a Republican primary.