Wednesday morning, retired Gen. Don Bolduc released a statement conceding the New Hampshire GOP U.S. Senate primary to Corky Messner. But the statement continued to criticize Bolduc’s opponent and explicitly declined to endorse him.
“I will always believe it’s important to our democracy that New Hampshire voters are given the voice to choose who they want to represent their interests,” Bolduc’s statement reads. “Voters have spoken and I respect their decision.
“While I do have serious concerns about the corruption and disproportionate influence of money and outside interests in this process, I’m grateful to have had the chance to speak with so many wonderful people in our state, and I’ll never forget those who supported our campaign. “
Messner defeated Bolduc by 50 to 42 percent.
Bolduc repeatedly attacked Messner personally during the course of the campaign.
“I do not think he’s a person of high character,” Bolduc said during an interview on WKXL with Chris Ryan. “I’m very concerned with what kind of approach he would have to adopt in the general election with the things he’s done in the past that don’t indicate good character and integrity.”
Late Tuesday night, Bolduc insisted that he would never endorse Messner, saying it would be a “disgrace.”
“I will not support a man who’s being investigated for fraud by the attorney general. NO! I will not support him. I will not disgrace my name to support a man like that,” Bolduc told WMUR.
This isn’t the first time Republicans have had primary election endorsement problems.
In the 2018 NH-01 primary, Eddie Edwards announced in advance of the vote that, if he lost, he would not endorse his opponent state Sen. Andy Sanborn. Edwards walked off a debate stage rather than agree to the NHGOP’s requirement that he pledge to support the party’s nominee. Edwards won, then lost badly to Chris Pappas two months later.
Some NHGOP insiders say the seeds for this division were planted by President Trump when he chose to get involved and picked sides in the primary.
“The party’s unprecedented endorsement of Corky Messner almost certainly saved him last night in a closer than expected primary,” one party activist told NHJournal. “That same endorsement — and the Bolduc team’s recognition of what it accomplished — will now almost certainly prevent Messner from enjoying the party unity he will need to effectively compete against Shaheen.”
Others, however, lay the blame at the feet of Bolduc who, they say, ran an erratic campaign that failed to make the case for picking Bolduc over the better-financed, Trump-backed Messner.
“If I wanted to vote for somebody to kill Taliban, I’d vote for Bolduc,” a GOP voter was overheard saying after a Bolduc event. “But I’m not — I’m voting for someone to go to the [U.S.] Senate.”
New Hampshire’s RNC Committeeman Chris Ager tells NHJournal this will all blow over and Granite State Republicans will be unified.
“I’ve been on the ballot myself, and I know how difficult it is to transition from candidate to team player. I think over time all the candidates who were disappointed with the outcome will come together, because everyone’s stated purpose is to stop the bad policies of the Democrats.”
“And that includes General Bolduc,” Ager said.