Chuck Morse is warning Republican primary voters about “Amnesty Ayotte” and the former U.S. senator’s record on immigration.

Kelly Ayotte says Morse’s attack is just to distract from the fact the former state Senate president killed a ban on sanctuary cities in 2022, while Ayotte “has never supported amnesty and never will.”

Meanwhile, Granite State GOP insiders worry that a divisive primary could put Republican control of the corner office at risk in November, which is shaping up to be a tough environment for the party.

“Joyce and Cinde are holding joint press conferences, and Chuck and Kelly are at the convention attacking each other,” one GOP insider complained to NHJournal.

Democrats Joyce Craig and Cinde Warmington, both of whom are seeking the governor’s nomination, participated in a Democratic event together on Thursday, attacking Donald Trump and the GOP over the issue of abortion. Thus far, former Manchester Mayor Craig and Executive Councilor Warmington have largely avoided on-the-record attacks against each other, though they have been shopping opposition research attacks to the press.

The Chuck Morse campaign has created the “Amnesty Ayotte” website.

Ayotte and Morse, however, have taken their fight public.

The Morse campaign has launched an “Amnesty Ayotte” website, claiming the former senator “talks like a conservative but votes like a liberal.” In particular, Morse is pointing out Ayotte’s support for comprehensive immigration legislation in 2013 that included a path to citizenship—commonly referred to as “amnesty”—for millions of illegal aliens.

And the Ayotte campaign has released a “Chuck Morse: Not Ready for Prime Time” YouTube video featuring audio of Morse on Drew Cline’s WFEA radio show. Cline asked Morse about a sanctuary city ban that passed the House and came before the state Senate in 2022 when he was still Senate president. Morse dismissed the bill as “not ready for prime time.”

A bill banning sanctuary cities is currently in the process of being passed by the state Senate over unified Democratic opposition.

Granite State Republicans were reluctant to talk to NHJournal on the record about the two campaigns going negative on immigration. But on background, there was a clear division of opinions. Some argued that campaigns involve conflict and it’s inevitable that the two candidates will tussle. Others bemoaned the attacks, saying they amp up pre-existing fears that, with Trump at the top of the ticket, November is already going to be tough for the New Hampshire GOP. Negative campaigning makes holding onto the governor’s office even harder.

That divide was on stark display Saturday when Morse and Ayotte addressed the GOP’s biennial convention in Concord. Morse used his time to call out Ayotte’s record on amnesty, and his campaign handed out baseball-card-style campaign literature with the name of an illegal immigrant convicted of a stabbing death committed after Ayotte’s vote for the comprehensive immigration deal.

Some Republican attendees were less than thrilled.

“The chairman [Chris Ager] delivers a message about working together and beating Democrats, and then Chuck goes on stage and attacks Kelly,” one attendee told NHJournal. “It didn’t go over very well.”

John Corbett, spokesperson for the Ayotte campaign, agreed.

“On a day when Gov. Sununu and Chairman Ager called for a united front against the Democrats, Chuck Morse selfishly decided that he would launch false and desperate attacks against Kelly Ayotte. Just like his campaign, these lies fell flat. Unlike Chuck, Kelly is focused on winning up and down the ticket in November so that we can keep our great state safe, prosperous, and free.”

But a Morse supporter who was in the crowd told NHJournal, “Chuck did great!”

Several legislators in the Trump wing of the party told NHJournal they appreciated Morse’s willingness to fight, particularly on the immigration issue. “A lot of us remember 2016 and why she lost then,” one state representative said, referring to third-party and independent candidates who appealed to disgruntled Republicans unhappy with Ayotte’s handling of abortion and the Trump candidacy.

The Morse campaign is showing no signs of backing down.

“Putting aside for a moment that Kelly Ayotte took a shot at Chuck Morse with her disingenuous video the night before, if she can’t take a 100 percent fact-based argument about her abysmal record in Washington, then how is she going to hold up against the tactics of New Hampshire’s Democrat Party?” asked Morse campaign manager Maya Harvey. “While Kelly has been focused on her career advancement, Chuck has helping electing down ballot Republicans for decades.”

Still, say Ayotte supporters, she’s leading in fundraising, and they believe she has the broad-based appeal in the party to win the nomination.

And there’s a potential upside for the GOP: Fighting over getting tough on immigration enforcement keeps a winning issue for Republicans front and center for the voters—voters who overwhelmingly trust Trump and Republicans on the issue more than Democrats. It also highlights the stance of Craig and Warmington, who both oppose a ban on sanctuary cities in New Hampshire.