It’s “No More Mister Nice Guy” from Matt Mayberry in the NHGOP First CD primary.
When Mayberry, a longtime fixture of New Hampshire Republican Party, announced his candidacy, he declined to even criticize incumbent Democrat Chris Pappas, telling Seacoastonline: “I’m going to talk about myself. I’m not here to malign him in any way.”
But now the former vice-chairman of the state GOP and “one of the nicest guys in New Hampshire politics,” according to one NHGOP insider, has taken the gloves off in his primary race against Matt Mowers.
At a recent campaign event hosted by Tuftonboro GOP activist Beverly Bruce, Mayberry pulled no punches, telling the crowd that Mowers is just the latest carpetbagger to come to New Hampshire to lose. Moving here to run “didn’t work for Scott Brown; it didn’t work for Maura Sullivan; it’s not going to work for Matt Mowers.”
“He will lose the general election,” Mayberry said.
The Mayberry campaign followed up with an email attacking Mowers over an online comment by a top donor. When Mayberry posted a photo of a campaign event featuring Sen. Chuck Morse (R-Salem), big-dollar Mowers donor Bill Grenier wrote: “Good to see some masks at the event; not surprised that Dishonest Chuck Morse isn’t wearing one. Actually Lyin Chuck sounds better.”
It’s the sort of online quip campaigns tend to overlook. Instead, Team Mayberry seized upon it, demanding Mowers “denounce these comments and return the dirty money that Greiner bundled for him.”
“It is no surprise that Greiner would be parroting Democratic talking point like this. After all, in addition to campaigning for Matt Mowers, he is also a top fundraiser for Jeanne Shaheen and backed Chris Pappas two years ago. Bill Greiner and his liberal dollars have no business influencing Republican primaries,” Mayberry said.
Interestingly, Greiner is also a big donor to Gov. Chris Sununu. But that didn’t stop the campaign from making his comment an issue, or asking other big-name Republicans to join in.
“Chuck Morse is one of New Hampshire’s most respected legislators and is one of the top Republican and conservative leaders in our state,” Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) said in a statement provided by the Mayberry campaign. “Attacking Chuck Morse’s honesty and integrity is flat out wrong and quite frankly unheard of given Chuck’s reputation.”
Mowers supporters shrug off these attacks as a sign of desperation.
“With his campaign broke financially and running out of time, it’s not surprising Matt Mayberry, who is running a keyboard campaign like Joe Biden, is lashing out with these nonsensical and desperate attacks on New Hampshire Republicans,” campaign manager John Corbett told NHJournal.
“Matt Mowers has run a positive grassroots campaign focused on one thing: beating Chris Pappas. By running a serious, grassroots campaign focused on meeting voters and knocking on doors the New Hampshire way, Mowers has earned the most endorsements from the district, the most State Representatives on our team and the support of President Trump.”
Sources in the Mowers campaign tell NHJournal they’ve got polling showing a double-digit lead in the primary. They also point to Mowers’ major fundraising advantage. As of the latest quarterly report, Mowers had raised more than $570,000 and had $440,000 cash on hand. Mayberry’s raised just $150,000 with $73,000 in the bank.
And yet despite that disparity, Mayberry still had more New Hampshire donors than Mowers, highlighting their “local boy vs. carpetbagger” message. It’s a message they believe gives the longtime NHGOP activist a path to victory, one based on traditional primary voters, local connections and personal ties.
Team Mowers responds by noting their campaign has knocked on more than 30,000 doors and has a solid grassroots team.
They also believe they have an advantage on ideology. Mowers is running as the candidate of the Right (“The only pro-life candidate in the race,” Mowers said), while Mayberry sometimes introduces himself with the phrase “I’m a veteran, I’m gay, I’m pro-choice and a lifelong Republican.”
And then there’s perhaps the biggest of big players in the NHGOP today: President Donald Trump. Trump has endorsed Mowers, and while Trump’s polls in New Hampshire aren’t great, his support among Republicans is consistently around 80 percent or higher. Infighting between Republican legislators is unlikely to impact GOP primary voters like a message from President Trump.
Mayberry is quick to point out that he was a Trump RNC delegate in 2016. His campaign is fond of noting Mowers’ work as a staffer for POTUS hopeful Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey who ran against Donald Trump.
There’s plenty for the two candidates to debate between now and September 8. And Matt Mayberry has made it clear: It’s gonna be a fight.