The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has concluded GOP congressional candidate Matt Mowers did not break any state laws when he voted in both the First in the Nation primary and the New Jersey primary in 2016.
“We conclude that you did not commit any New Hampshire election law violations,” Deputy General Counsel Myles Matteson wrote in a letter to Mowers. “We also conclude that your 2016 votes in the presidential primaries in New Hampshire and New Jersey do not constitute a violation of New Hampshire election law.
“This matter is closed.”
The controversy began when the Associated Press reported last month Mowers voted twice during the 2016 primary season. While working for Gov. Chris Christie in the #FITN primary in February, Mowers voted in New Hampshire. When Christie dropped out of the race, Mowers moved to New Jersey and began working for the Trump campaign. While there, he legally registered and voted in the Garden State’s presidential primary.
“This report confirmed what I’ve said all along, this was nothing more than a partisan witch hunt that is an embarrassment for the Democrat machine and my primary opponents that co-orchestrated this baseless attack,” Mowers said in a statement. “I would like to thank the Office of the Attorney General for their diligent work on this. As the report concluded, this matter is closed. I look forward to continuing to campaign across the district and restoring New Hampshire’s voice in Congress.”
For his opponents in the First District GOP primary, however, the matter is far from closed.
“It is disturbing to see someone claiming to be a leader in our party gleefully rubbing in voters’ faces that they got away with voting twice in the same election. That is what the Democrats do,” said Gail Huff Brown. “What Matt Mowers did is exactly the sort of loophole election fraud President Donald Trump and the Republican Party have been fighting to change since Election Day 2020.
“New Hampshire Republicans deserve a candidate who can credibly fight for election integrity,” Huff added,
And several NHGOP activists who have supported Mowers in the past say they refuse to back him over the voting issue.
“I’m done with Mowers. I won’t vote for him, not after what he did,” one longtime GOP grassroots activist told NHJournal. “We have to have the election integrity issue to win.”
Other Republicans told NHJournal the official letter resolved the issue.
“The report from the attorney general puts it to bed as an issue,” said Republican National Committeeman Chris Ager. “Now we can focus on which of our great Republican candidates can best represent the First District and replace our ineffective follower of Nancy Pelosi.”
Mowers has consistently polled as the front runner in the primary, and he has the advantage of being both an acceptable candidate among traditional Republicans and an ally of Trump — who endorsed him in the 2020 race.
However, the voting issue creates a potential opening to strip away some of the more MAGA voters who are particularly focused on ballot security issues. Both state Rep. Tim Baxter (R-Seabrook) and former White House communications staffer Karoline Leavitt have been running hard in what President Joe Biden might call the “Uber MAGA” lane, and they both called out Mowers when the story first broke.
But without an actual Trump endorsement — and rumors are flying that Leavitt is working hard to make that happen — will anything else be enough to move primary voters away from a Trump-allied candidate with high name ID who many Republican primary voters have already voted for once? Is Mowers’ odd-but-not-illegal voting enough?
Mowers ally Thomas Colantuono, former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire says no.
“The New Hampshire attorney general cleared Matt of any wrongdoing and closed the door on these false allegations. As a former U.S. Attorney, it is my opinion that no federal law was violated and those suggesting otherwise are just playing politics.”