Republican frontrunner Kelly Ayotte’s campaign finance disclosure, filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office Wednesday, reported a total of $4.2 million raised since launching her campaign for governor. Ayotte also reports raising more than $1.5 million since the December 2023 filing, and cash on hand of more than $3.3 million.

And what did her Republican opponent Chuck Morse file as of Wednesday’s deadline?


The Morse campaign didn’t submit a campaign finance disclosure. They say an exemption in the state’s election law applies in their case, and so Morse’s next mandatory filing is on August 21, three weeks before the primary.

It’s a strategic campaign move that caught many in New Hampshire politics by surprise.

The two best-known Democrats in the race, former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, announced their fundraising totals on Tuesday. Neither Warmington’s total ($1.8 million) nor Craig’s ($2.3 million) matched the number announced by Ayotte, who outraised both of them combined.

“Our state’s future is on the ballot this November. Joyce Craig and Cinde Warmington think Massachusetts is a better model for New Hampshire than the past eight years under Gov. Sununu. The voters I meet as I travel across our state tell me they couldn’t disagree more.”

The Morse campaign declined to comment on Ayotte’s total or its decision not to file a report.

Ayotte, a former U.S. senator, has led the campaign cash race from the beginning. Her December filing reported $2.7 million — well ahead of the $900,000 declared by Morse at the time.

The money has helped make Ayotte the frontrunner, and it’s also made her a target of incoming fire from Craig and Warmington, particularly on the issue of abortion. Both Democrats have pledged to work to repeal New Hampshire’s ban on late-term abortions, while Ayotte has pledged to oppose any changes to the state’s current law.

Campaign spokesman John Corbett said in a statement that Ayotte’s fundraising success is a sign GOP voters are on board.

“National Democrats and their dark money groups have made it clear from day one that they want to buy the corner office and turn New Hampshire into Massachusetts. Granite Staters are rallying behind Kelly because they know that she will not allow them to MASS up our great state.”

Granite State GOP activists have long questioned whether Morse could raise the money needed to run a competitive race against Ayotte. His campaign’s decision to skip Wednesday’s filing didn’t quiet those concerns. As state Senate president, Morse was a prolific fundraiser who helped his party win and hold a majority in the upper chamber. He was also the most successful fundraiser in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in 2022, though he lost that race to retired Gen. Don Bolduc.

But Ayotte has the backing of many of Morse’s biggest financial supporters from the past, and campaign watchers want to see if he’s still got enough donors to mount a competitive race. Those watchers will have to wait.

So, how is Morse able to avoid filing his fundraising numbers while Ayotte and the Democrats aren’t? According to filing requirements posted on the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office, candidates who have expenditures exceeding $1,000 shall file financial statements “except that the statement due June 19, 2024 is not required.”

In the past, that has usually been interpreted to cover individual candidates, not candidate committees like “Kelly for New Hampshire” or “Friends of Chuck Morse.” The Morse campaign declined to comment on their reasoning, but it could be the case that, under New Hampshire’s less-than-definitive election laws, the definition of “candidate” includes candidate committees for the purposes of the filing.

Whatever their reasoning, sources close to the Morse campaign insist it is on solid legal ground and has no duty to file. But it’s certainly not the norm, conceded Secretary of State David Scanlan.

“I will say that it’s unusual that a major candidate finds himself in that situation,” Scanlan told NHJournal, adding that he could not recall a candidate in Morse’s position in recent years who made the same decision.

Asked about the legality of declining to file on Wednesday, Scanlan said he wasn’t in a position to give definitive answer without thoroughly looking into the matter.

But the Ayotte campaign didn’t feel the need to wait.

“If I were Chuck Morse, I would want to hide my campaign from the world, too,” said Corbett. “While Chuck’s sad campaign winds down, Kelly continues to travel across the state, earning every vote to beat the Democrats in November and keep New Hampshire safe, prosperous and free.”

From a strategic standpoint, Morse’s move may be the smart one, some New Hampshire Republicans told NHJournal on background. “Talking about money is a winner for Ayotte, not Morse,” one campaign professional said. “Instead of defending his fundraising, Chuck can keep attacking Ayotte on not being conservative.”

But Republican donor Andy Crews, who has supported Morse financially in the past but is on Team Ayotte this cycle, said Morse’s move means it’s time for him to go.

“Why is Chuck still in this race if he isn’t going to run a serious campaign? The only reason not to file today is because he’s broke, and that is embarrassing,” Crews said. “The Democrats are going to throw everything at us this fall, and we can’t have someone like Chuck, who isn’t ready for primetime, on the ticket. For the good of the party, Chuck needs to take a hard look at reality and exit the race.”