Bolduc-Morse primary was tight, but a landslide in Rindge, Jaffrey

  • U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general, pitches his platform to attendees of the Cheshire County Republican Committee's 2022 Reagan-Coolidge BBQ in Wheelock Park in Keene last month. — FILE PHOTO BY TRISHA NAIL / SENTINEL STAFF

  • State Sen. Chuck Morse speaks at the Cheshire County Republican Committee's 2022 Reagan-Coolidge BBQ in Wheelock Park in Keene last month, while campaigning for U.S. Senate. —FILE PHOTO BY TRISHA NAIL / SENTINEL STAFF

Keene Sentinel
Published: 9/22/2022 12:10:30 PM

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc defeated state Sen. Chuck Morse by a narrow margin statewide in their Republican primary for U.S. Senate — but there were a couple of places in Cheshire County where it was a landslide.  

Countywide, Republican voters favored Bolduc, of Stratham, 2,432-1,857, according to the New Hampshire Secretary of State's office. But he won 441-128 in Rindge, and 212-121 in Jaffrey. Statewide, Bolduc topped Morse, of Salem, 52,121-50,350.

Bolduc, 60, ran as a far-right election denier, but after winning the nomination, immediately tacked more to the center by saying he had come to believe the 2020 election wasn’t stolen from former President Donald Trump.

Morse, 61, positioned himself as more of a mainstream Republican and earned the endorsement of GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, whom Bolduc once called "a Chinese Communist sympathizer."

Bolduc will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of Newfields in the Nov. 8 general election. 

Trump easily won in Rindge two years ago, but lost handily to Joe Biden statewide. State Rep. Matthew Santonastaso, R-Rindge, said he sees a strong pro-Trump and “pro-liberty” sentiment in Republicans who live in that 6,000-person town. He said these views may be attributable in part to what he described as conservatism originating in Finnish immigrants who settled in this general area, including nearby New Ipswich, many years ago.

“Bolduc was extremely popular around here,” Santonastaso said. “People can’t get over him.”

This past legislative session, Santonastaso supported a proposal for a statewide vote on whether New Hampshire should secede from the United States. He is one of three Republican representatives from Rindge in what is otherwise a largely Democratic Cheshire County delegation in the New Hampshire House. The county, as a whole, is strongly Democratic and favored Biden over Trump, 25,522-17,898, in the 2020 presidential election.

Associate Professor Philip Barker at Keene State College said there may be other factors that lead people in certain areas of the county to be farther to the right on the political spectrum.   

“Because we are in a more Democratic-leaning area of the state, there can be a tendency for people out of power, Republicans in this area, to be more polarized. There can be less willingness to compromise from both parties,” he said. “You see this playing out in gerrymandered political districts around the country. There becomes less of a need to appeal to centrist voters. You could also see Democrats shifting to be more progressive because they are in safe districts.”

He also said rural areas tend to be more conservative than urban areas. 

Keene resident Shaun Filiault, a political science lecturer at the college and a Democratic candidate for the New Hampshire House, said the city's status as a county seat and a more-urban area helps explain its Democratic bent.

“It also has the college and the hospital, both of which bring in highly educated people, so that’s going to skew further blue [Democratic],” he said.

Biden won about 60 percent of college-educated voters in 2020, according to a Pew Research Center study. 

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org. 


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