The 2022 Republican field was tied for the largest in party history and may yield the closest ever result

While not all votes have yet been counted, retired U.S. Army General Don Bolduc has defeated party-backed state Senate President Chuck Morse in an extremely competitive New Hampshire Republican U.S. Senate primary.

The current vote count shows Bolduc, who was runner-up to nominee Bryant Messner in the 2020 U.S. Senate primary, leading Morse by 1.11 points.

If that margin stands, it will go down in the history books as the narrowest victory in a New Hampshire GOP U.S. Senate primary across the 39 that have been held since the first such contest in 1914.

To date, the most closely decided contest was held just a dozen years ago when Kelly Ayotte escaped with a 1.14-point win against attorney Ovide Lamontagne.

Overall, 10 Republican primaries for the office have been decided by single digits including five by less than two points. The remaining three are:

  • 1918: Governor Henry Keyes by 1.5 points over former Governor Rolland Spaulding
  • 1950: U.S. Senator Charles Tobey by 1.7 points over former aide to Senator Styles Bridges (and future governor) Wesley Powell
  • 1962 (special): Four-term U.S. Representative Perkins Bass by 1.8 points over Senator Bridges’ widow, Doloris Bridges

The 11 candidates in the GOP primary on Tuesday ties a high-water mark for the party in U.S. Senate contests.

There were also 11 candidates battling for the nomination in 1980 when former state Attorney General Warren Rudman defeated future Governor John H. Sununu.

Ten candidates were on the ballot in the 2014 race won by former Massachusetts U.S. Senator Scott Brown.

Only three other cycles had more than four candidates: seven in 2010 (won by Ayotte), six in 1966 (won by retired Air Force General Harrison Thyng), and five in 2016 (Ayotte).

Bolduc has received 36.8 percent of the vote which will likely go down as the fourth lowest for a winning Republican U.S. Senate nominee.

Rudman won just 20.3 percent in 1980, Thyng won 29.5 percent in 1966, and Bass received 31.4 percent in 1962’s special.

Bolduc will face Maggie Hassan in November who hopes to claim a third consecutive U.S. Senate victory for New Hampshire Democrats for the first time in party history.

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  1. Flickertail-Pembina on September 14, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    “…in the ‘2010’ race…Scott Brown” ??

    With the very popular Governor Sununu (son of J H) on the ballot, hopefully Senator Hassan will manage to sufficiently reduce straight – (Republican) ticket voters, certainly enough for a FOURTH CONSECUTIVE win for Granite State Democrats!

  2. Connor Cobb on September 14, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    I think he meant 2014

    • Flickertail-Pembina on September 15, 2022 at 10:14 am

      Perhaps a typo by ‘Dr. Eric’ indeed – though not a trivial one.

      I for one am surprised that former Ambassador to New Zealand & Samoa Brown passed on this senate election, given his early connection to ‘the former guy’ and his professed commitment to his newish primary home state. Had he been the R nominee he would have had as good a chance as any Republican to prevent the state Democrats from notching a historic FOURTH STRAIGHT US senate win.

  3. John Chessant on September 17, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Had Chuck Morse won this primary, this would have been first Senate election in a decade to feature two former governors as their parties’ nominees: Sen. Hassan served as governor from 2013 to 2017, while Morse in his capacity as state senate president served as acting governor from Jan. 3, 2017 to Jan. 5, 2017 after Hassan resigned the last few days of her term to become U.S. senator. [Morse, however, would not have been the shortest-serving former governor to ever serve in the Senate; that distinction surely belongs to Hiram Bingham III, who served as governor of Connecticut for one day from Jan. 7, 1925 to Jan. 8, 1925 before he resigned to become U.S. senator, having won a special Senate election the previous month.]

    Three of the last four Senate elections in which both parties nominated former governors took place in Virginia. In 2012, Tim Kaine (D-Va., 2006-10) defeated George Allen (R-Va., 1994-98) to win the open seat Allen previously held from 2001 to 2007. In 2008, Mark Warner (D-Va., 2002-06) defeated Jim Gilmore (R-Va., 1998-2002) to win the open seat. In 2000, Allen ousted Chuck Robb (D-Va., 1982-86) who was seeking a third term. The same year in Missouri, despite dying three weeks before the election, Mel Carnahan (D-Mo., 1993-2000) ousted John Ashcroft (R-Mo., 1985-93) who was seeking a second term.

    The full list going back to the beginning of the direct election era is:

    *Wyoming, 1918: Francis E. Warren (R-Wyo., Oct.-Nov. 1890) defeated John E. Osborne (D-Wyo., 1893-95) to win his fifth full term
    *South Dakota, 1930: William J. Bulow (D-S.D., 1927-31) ousted William H. McMaster (R-S.D., 1921-25) who was seeking a second term
    *Maine, 1940: Owen Brewster (R-Maine, 1925-29) [who won the nomination over Lewis O. Barrows (R-Maine, 1937-41)] defeated Louis Brann (D-Maine, 1933-37) to win the open seat
    *New Hampshire, 1942: Styles Bridges (R-N.H., 1935-37) defeated Francis P. Murphy (D-N.H., 1937-41) to win a second term
    *South Dakota, 1942: Harlan J. Bushfield (R-S.D., 1939-43) defeated Tom Berry (D-S.D., 1933-37) who had ousted Bulow in the primary
    *Maine, 1958: Edmund Muskie (D-Maine, 1955-59) ousted Frederick G. Payne (R-Maine, 1949-52) who was seeking a second term
    *Wyoming, 1962 special: Milward Simpson (R-Wyo., 1955-59) ousted John J. Hickey (D-Wyo., 1959-61) in a reversal of the 1958 gubernatorial election [Hickey had arranged his ‘self-appointment’ to the Senate following the death of Sen.-elect Keith Thomson in December 1960]
    *Vermont, 1976: Robert Stafford (R-Vt., 1959-61) defeated Thomas P. Salmon (D-Vt., 1973-77) to win his first full term

    There are several more examples if we include *future* governors as well:

    *West Virginia, 1928: Henry D. Hatfield (R-W.V., 1913-17) ousted Matthew M. Neely (D-W.V., 1941-45) who was seeking a second term
    *Ohio, 1952: John W. Bricker (R-Ohio, 1939-45) defeated Michael DiSalle (D-Ohio, 1959-63) to win a second term
    *Massachusetts, 1954: Leverett Saltonstall (R-Mass., 1939-45) defeated Foster Furcolo (D-Mass., 1957-61) to win his second full term
    *Florida, 1964: Spessard Holland (D-Fla., 1941-45) defeated Claude R. Kirk, Jr. (R-Fla., 1967-71) to win his fourth full term
    *California, 1982: Pete Wilson (R-Calif., 1991-99) defeated Jerry Brown (D-Calif., 1975-83 & 2011-19) to win the open seat
    *Washington, 1983 special: Daniel J. Evans (R-Wash., 1965-77) defeated Mike Lowry (D-Wash., 1993-97) in this special election following the death of Scoop Jackson
    *South Carolina, 1986: Fritz Hollings (D-S.C., 1959-63) defeated Henry McMaster (R-S.C., 2017-present) to win his fourth full term
    *Arkansas, 1986 and 1992: Dale Bumpers (D-Ark., 1971-75) defeated Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark., 2015-present) and Mike Huckabee (R-Ark., 1996-2007) to win a third and fourth term, respectively
    *Florida, 1998: Bob Graham (D-Fla., 1979-87) defeated Charlie Crist (R-Fla., 2007-11) to win a third term
    *Missouri, 1998: Kit Bond (R-Mo., 1973-77 & 1981-85) defeated Jay Nixon (D-Mo., 2009-17) to win a third term

    We could also count primaries that were tantamount to election. South Carolina leads the way here having seen primaries between former or future governors in 1924, 1930, 1941, 1950, 1962, and 1966. Some other examples are:

    *Mississippi, 1940: Theodore G. Bilbo (D-Miss., 1916-20 & 1928-32) defeated Hugh L. White (D-Miss., 1936-40 & 1952-56) to win a second term
    *Texas, 1942: W. Lee O’Daniel (D-Tex., 1939-41) defeated James V. Allred (D-Tex., 1935-39) in a runoff to win his first full term [another governor, Dan Moody (D-Tex., 1927-31), placed third and thus did not make the runoff]
    *North Carolina, 1948: J. Melville Broughton (D-N.C., 1941-45) ousted William B. Umstead (D-N.C., 1953-54) who had been appointed following the death of Josiah Bailey
    *Georgia, 1956: Herman Talmadge (D-Ga., Jan.-Mar. 1947 & 1948-55) defeated long-time rival Melvin E. Thompson (D-Ga., 1947-48) to win the open seat
    *Arkansas, 1978: David Pryor (D-Ark., 1975-79) defeated Jim Guy Tucker (D-Ark., 1992-96) in a runoff to win the open seat

    • Dr. Eric Ostermeier on September 22, 2022 at 3:14 pm

      This is a great list, John!

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