Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan has won reelection in New Hampshire, surviving a challenge from Republican Don Bolduc.
Hassan led in the polls for weeks following Bolduc’s win in the September GOP primary. A retired Army general and ally of former President Donald Trump, Bolduc had helped promote the baseless conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was stolen.
In the primary, Bolduc’s candidacy was opposed by a number of key Republicans, including popular Granite State Gov. Chris Sununu. Meanwhile, Democrats spent millions in the state during the primary attacking state Senate President Chuck Morse, the more moderate GOP option supported by Sununu, in an effort to boost Bolduc.
Through his primary campaign, Bolduc proudly underlined his belief about the illegitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.
“I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Donald Trump won the election and, damn it, I stand by [it],” he said at an August primary debate.
But in an attempt to moderate his positions following the primary victory, Bolduc said in late September that he didn’t think the election had been stolen. The following month he flipped again, telling a town hall he couldn’t say if it was stolen or not. When pressed at a debate last week, Bolduc referred to the September comment and said he was done talking about it.
Hassan criticized that response and called her opponent "the most extreme nominee for U.S. Senate that New Hampshire has seen in modern history.” Bolduc also said he supported repealing the 17th Amendment, which allows for the direct election of senators, and suggested he was open to abolishing the FBI. In recent weeks he promoted the anti-transgender lie that schools now have litter boxes for students who identify as cats.
Polls tightened in recent weeks, with some reputable surveys even showing Bolduc with a lead despite Hassan’s massive fundraising advantage. One Republican-aligned group spent $1 million in the race’s final weeks supporting Bolduc, who devoted that time to arguing that Hassan had helped make inflation worse and had done little to fix problems on the southern border.
Bolduc was also finally embraced by Sununu as the race came to a close. “I’m going to support the Republican ticket, because the issues that folks are voting on are inflation, gas prices,” the governor told NBC News.
Hassan is a former governor who was first elected to the Senate in 2016 by an exceedingly narrow margin — about 1,000 votes, or 0.14%. That same year, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in New Hampshire by a similarly tight margin. But Joe Biden won the state comfortably in 2020, defeating Trump by 7 points.
A reliable Democratic vote in the Senate, Hassan had separated herself from Biden at times during the campaign. She said she disagreed with his decision to cancel student debt, promised to hold his administration responsible for the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer and touted her support for some of Trump’s border policies.
In the final weeks of the campaign, however, she campaigned with first lady Jill Biden.