CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan won a second term representing New Hampshire on Tuesday, defeating Republican challenger Don Bolduc to keep a seat once viewed as ripe for a GOP pickup.
Hassan, a former governor, had been considered vulnerable given her narrow win in 2016. But her odds improved after popular Gov. Chris Sununu took a pass at challenging her, and Republicans nominated Bolduc, a retired Army general who has espoused conspiracy theories about vaccines and the 2020 presidential election.
“I promise you, Democrats, independents and Republicans, the people who voted for me and those who did not, that I will keep working every day to serve you faithfully, to listen to you and to work with you to address the challenges facing your families, our state and our country," Hassan told cheering supporters in Manchester.
Hassan spent much of the campaign casting Bolduc as “the most extreme nominee for U.S. Senate that New Hampshire has seen in modern history,” and pouncing on his past statements on abortion, Social Security and the 2020 presidential election.
“He keeps trying to conceal that from Granite Staters,” she said in a debate. “He’s spent over a year in New Hampshire stoking the big lie... and former President Trump just confirmed that he’s an election denier this week.”
Bolduc initially promoted Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election but after winning the Republican primary said it wasn’t stolen and then, more recently, said that he wasn’t sure. Trump endorsed Bolduc late in the campaign, calling him a “strong and proud ‘Election Denier."
“Had he stayed strong and true, he would have won easily,” Trump wrote of Bolduc on his social media platform Tuesday night.
Nearly two years after Trump’s defeat, there has been no evidence of widespread fraud. Numerous reviews in the battleground states where Trump disputed his loss have affirmed the results, courts have rejected dozens of lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies, and even Trump’s own Department of Justice concluded the results were accurate.
Bolduc, who insisted voters weren’t interested in rehashing 2020, sought to both harness dissatisfaction over the economy and draw upon the connections he forged from the nearly constant grassroots campaigning he did after he unsuccessfully sought the nomination for the state’s other senate seat two years ago. And he spent much of the campaign trying to link Hassan to Biden administration policies he said were hurting Americans.
In his concession speech, Bolduc urged his supporters to hold elected officials accountable.
“We have created a rumble. We have created an idea that government should not tread on its people and that career politicians must change,” he said in Manchester. “We didn’t win today, but imagine if we continue to come together, if we join hands, if we decide that they work for us and we don’t work for them.”
“If we can do this even in losing we will win,” he said.
Hassan defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2016 to become the second woman in American history to be elected both governor and U.S. senator, following fellow New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.
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