How does it feel to be a major political party’s nominee for a seat in Congress, with the chance to become the youngest woman ever to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives?

Ask Karoline Leavitt, who scored a surprise victory in a competitive field in the New Hampshire First Congressional District GOP primary Tuesday night.

“It feels like the honor of a lifetime,” Leavitt told NHJournal just hours after being declared the winner. “I’m so humbled, I’m at a loss for words over the outpouring of support from conservatives, from every community.”

Leavitt, 25 (as of last month), was viewed by many Granite State political pros as the most talented newcomer in the 2022 field, with impressive fundraising, messaging, and organization.

“Look, she ran the best race in the state,” one GOP insider affiliated with another campaign told NHJournal. “She deserved to win.” For nearly a year, the 2020 nominee Matt Mowers was the presumed frontrunner and believed to have the advantage. But in the past two weeks, more veteran Republicans said they believed Leavitt had moved into the lead.

“When we got into this a year ago, nobody knew who I was,” Leavitt said. “I had no money in the campaign account. I just had a drive and a work ethic and a passion to fight for this state and that is paid off over the last year.”

And what about the millions of dollars in negative attack ads that mocked Leavitt, her age, and her relative lack of experience?

“The establishment underestimated the wisdom of the people of this district,” Leavitt said. “Voters in New Hampshire, on both sides of the aisle, are smart. They do their research. They do their homework — and they didn’t buy it. They didn’t allow the establishment and the Democrats to buy this seat.”

Asked about whether Mowers had contacted her to congratulate her on her victory or concede defeat, Leavitt said she wanted to focus on the future. “I’m confident all of the Republicans will unify, we’ll join together because we have to defeat Chris Pappas.”

And though she had been the nominee for less than two hours, Leavitt already had her list of issues on which she was ready to take the incumbent Democrat.

“We are in unprecedented times. Inflation is at a 40-year high, 8.3 percent. The market had its worst day today [Tuesday] since the pandemic in 2020. We have a wide-open southern border … we have fentanyl that has poured into our state that’s making it very difficult for our law enforcement here in New Hampshire. We have an energy crisis, and Granite Staters — regardless of their political affiliation — are feeling the effects. These are direct consequences of the Biden-Pappas-Pelosi regime.”

Talk of socialist regimes and the stolen election of 2020 may excite the GOP base, but Leavitt now has to face an incumbent in a district that hasn’t gone Republican since 2014. Leavitt has heard the criticism that she’s too “MAGA” to win in the general election. What is her answer to people who say Pappas has all the advantages?

“Chris Pappas has never faced Karoline Leavitt before,” she replied.

“We are going to expose him for his egregious voting record,” Leavitt said. “That he’s been in line with Nancy Pelosi more than 90 percent of the time. He has made promises to people in this district he hasn’t kept. He promised our business community he wouldn’t vote for mandates.

“We’re going to expose him over the next eight weeks, and voters will understand that he has enabled this disastrous socialist agenda that is hurting them every single day. And we’re going to win on November 8 just like we did today — against all odds and defying all expectations.”