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The Last Chance For Election Deniers To Win Primaries

Meet the Republican candidates running in New Hampshire who deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election or have questioned its results.


Nathaniel Rakich: September 13 is the last primary election day until the big midterm election in November. And that means it’s the last chance for Republicans to nominate someone who believes the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

Three states are holding their primaries on Tuesday, but only one has a lot of action on the Republican side: New Hampshire. And the marquee race in the Granite State is the primary for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. New Hampshire is a light-blue state, so Republicans have to nominate the right candidate if they want to beat her — and retired Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc, with his far-right views, probably isn’t that candidate. Bolduc has repeatedly and falsely claimed that former President Donald Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election.

Bolduc: I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Trump won the election and, damn it, I stand by my letter.

However, lately, he seems like he’s been backing off this stance. Listen to what he told New Hampshire Public Radio a few days ago:

Bolduc: Did I say it was stolen? I didn’t say it was stolen. I said that Granite Staters have issues and that’s who’s important. I just want to be clear on what I’m saying. That’s all. Thank you.

Rakich: He did say it was stolen, for the record.

Now, Bolduc’s main opponent, state Senate President Chuck Morse, has also been dancing around the issue, but it looks like Bolduc’s game of footsie with election denialism will win the day. According to a late August poll from the University of New Hampshire, 43 percent of likely primary voters planned to support Bolduc while only 22 percent planned to support Morse.

Republicans are also hoping to flip New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, and an election denier is making a strong charge there too. Former Trump staffer Karoline Leavitt claims to be “the only candidate [in the race] to stand with voters and publicly reject that Joe Biden won 81 million votes.” However, a super PAC tied to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has spent over a million dollars to prevent Leavitt from winning. It’s backing former Trump aide Matt Mowers, who has touted his support for “election integrity” and “routine audits” of election results, but he hasn’t passed judgment on the fairness of the 2020 election. Recent polling shows Mowers and Leavitt neck and neck.

However, Mowers may be one of the few Americans who actually has committed voter fraud. In 2016, Mowers voted in both the New Hampshire presidential primary and in the New Jersey presidential primary four months later, potentially violating a federal law that says you can’t vote twice for the same office. It would be pretty ironic if Republicans who are so concerned about voter fraud actually end up voting for him.

Nathaniel Rakich is a senior editor and senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.

Anna Rothschild was FiveThirtyEight’s senior producer for video.


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