On a day when many Republican members of Congress were likely asking themselves why they ever wanted to go to Washington, D.C., Greenland businesswoman Hollie Noveletsky announced her plans to join their ranks.
She jumped into the 1st Congressional District GOP primary on Monday, facing off against former state Sen. Russell Prescott for the chance to take on Rep. Chris Pappas (D)
Just 36 hours before Noveletsky’s announcement, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) passed a stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown, a plan that only passed thanks to Democratic support. Less than 12 hours after her announcement, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) declared his plan to use a procedural tool — called a motion to vacate — to try and force McCarthy out.
Not exactly ideal timing.
Noveletsky, the CEO of Novel Iron Works, targeted incumbent Democrats in her campaign announcement, pledging “to offer conservative, America First solutions that will help New Hampshire.”
“When I look at Washington, I see a city run by Joe Biden and Chris Pappas, who bask in inaction and empty promises, while middle-class families in New Hampshire are stuck with inflation, higher energy costs, the rising cost of healthcare, and chaos at our southern border,” Noveletsky said.
Though Noveletsky has never run for office before, she is no stranger to politics. Often seen at GOP fundraisers, Noveletsky was part of a group of New Hampshire business owners who held a 2021 event opposing the “PRO Act” — a federal law that would override states’ right-to-work laws.
Her campaign touts Noveletsky’s ten years of service in the U.S. Army Reserves as a nurse practitioner and her volunteer work at disaster sites from Africa to Maine.
Matt Mowers is a veteran GOP operative who ran in the 1st District in both 2020 and 2022.
“Keep an eye on Hollie – her combined background in business, the military, and as a nurse give her an incredible biography to run on, and her roots in the Seacoast run deep,” he said via social media.
Prescott owns R.E. Prescott Pump Company in Exeter and is a professional engineer. He also served as a state senator and member of the Executive Council. His campaign says he has raised more than $400,000 and received several high-profile endorsements, including former NHGOP Chairman Wayne MacDonald.
“I’ve worked alongside Russell Prescott for many years, and I trust him. I have seen him defeat Democrats like Maggie Hassan when others could not, and I have watched him govern in a conservative way that still brings in the independent votes we need to win in swing districts.”
McCarthy’s speakership was hotly debated during the 2020 GOP primary, with eventual winner Karoline Leavitt repeatedly criticized for her willingness to back the California Republican if the GOP won the majority. Leavitt, an outspoken MAGA Republican, handily won the primary despite the McCarthy issue but lost to incumbent Pappas in the general election.
Asked by NHJournal if they would have voted for the stopgap measure and if they supported or opposed the effort to oust McCarthy, the two 2024 candidates gave similar answers.
“Of course, I would’ve kept the government funded,” Noveletsky told NHJournal. “But as a business owner, I’ve always had to make the tough decisions to make ends meet. Washington has enough career politicians; it needs more business leaders like myself, who know how to reduce spending while keeping the government open.”
Prescott said, “I would have voted to keep the government open for our first responders, our military, and our seniors, but I would have also been leading on making sure we never get to that point again.” He would not vote to vacate the chair, he added.
“We need to return our government to a regular and transparent order. The people of New Hampshire deserve no less. We need to get control of our spending; both parties need to stop putting forth bills filled with pork and hidden costs passed on to the voters of the 1st Congressional District.
“The fact that we continue to govern with a shutdown clock ticking down to the very last minute is absurd.”
New Hampshire GOP insiders tell NHJournal that party leaders have been working hard to avoid a costly and divisive primary in the district, hoping to go into the 2024 general election unified and with momentum to take on Pappas. Now that there is a competitive primary, several GOP activists who live in the district say they expect at least one more candidate, likely from the MAGA wing of the party, to enter the race.
With or without New Hampshire’s notoriously late primaries, however, Republicans are looking at an uphill climb. Pappas has won his three terms handily, part of the Democratic Party’s growing success at the federal level.
Beginning in 2012, New Hampshire Republicans have lost 16 out of 17 federal elections.