Just 40 days after entering the race, attorney Corky Messner’s U.S. Senate campaign has nearly $1.2 million cash on hand thanks to a $1 million infusion from the candidate.
According to a statement from the campaign, the self-made millionaire has raised more than $200,000, while loaning the campaign just over $1 million of his own money.
Messner was the third Republican to enter the primary for a chance to challenge incumbent Senator Jeanne Shaheen, after retired Gen. Don Bolduc and former New Hampshire Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien.
On Monday afternoon, the Bolduc campaign announced their third-quarter fundraising total, $239,818, and the following statement from the candidate:
“I recognize that any successful campaign needs resources, and we will have the resources we need to defeat Jeanne Shaheen in November of 2020. It’s worth noting that there is a long list of examples of well-funded candidates who failed to connect with New Hampshire voters. Conversely, John McCain’s campaign was in the red shortly before the 2008 N.H. primary. He won anyway because he worked hard and spoke directly about the things that matter. That’s what my campaign is all about. This is a grassroots effort built on telling the truth and problem-solving. That’s what people want and that’s exactly what I will deliver.”
Messner is a founder of the Denver-based Messner Reeves law firm, with nine offices and more than 100 attorneys. He’s owned a home in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region for about 12 years.
Though a West Point grad and Army Ranger, Messner doesn’t have the same high-profile military resume as Gen. Bolduc and he’s not as well known among Republican primary voters as longtime political combatant O’Brien. However, he’s hired an experienced national GOP consultant, former George W. Bush strategist Joe Allbaugh, another sign Messner’s serious about the primary. Also, he’s got a strong pro-Trump message (which is popular among NHGOP voters) and the resources to get it out.
Over the weekend, for example, Gen. Bolduc called President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the border of Syria and Turkey “misguided,” and O’Brien offered tempered support for the policy, but Messner was all in.
“Based on everything I’ve read and listened to, Turkey’s incursion into Syria was done on their initiative and was not green-lighted by the Trump administration,” Messner told WMUR in defense of Trump’s policy.
Another New Hampshire Republican who defended Trump was his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who has repeatedly discussed entering the race but remains on the sidelines for the moment. Should he enter, it’s widely believed he would be the prohibitive favorite to win the GOP primary.
Lewandowski says the NHGOP needs a candidate who can raise the millions needed to be competitive with Shaheen, declaring that any candidate who didn’t raise $2 million in the third quarter of 2019–which ended September 30–couldn’t be a serious, credible candidate. Shaheen spent $12 million in 2014 running against one-time Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, in a race where total spending by candidates and outside groups reached $45 million.
It’s unlikely any of the three announced candidates will hit Lewandowski’s arbitrary benchmark.
Meanwhile, as Republicans battle in the primary, USA Today has released their analysis of the competitive U.S. Senate seats where incumbents are in some danger and whose outcome could impact whether the GOP continues to hold power.
Not on the list? New Hampshire.