New Hampshire Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan—She Will Take on MAGA Tin Foil Extremist Don Bolduc September 18, 2022
New Hampshire. It’s a small state in northern New England and one of the original thirteen colonies. However, despite its size, it’s a state that most of the nation often hears about, especially during presidential election years. It’s motto is “Live Free or Die.” Actually, it’s true motto should be changed to “Vote First or Die.” Since 1920, the Granite State has conducted first-in-the-nation presidential primaries (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). Unlike big states that require huge media buys for people to get to know the candidates, NH is known for its retail face-to-face voter contacts. New Hampshirites expect the national presidential candidates to not only be questioned in town hall meetings. They also expect to meet them eating in diners, see them shoveling snow, and getting asked questions anywhere they are going. NH has allowed little-known candidates to upset front-runners and receive the national spotlight. In 1984, then Colorado Senator Gary Hart upset national front-runner Walter Mondale and made a long contest of the Democratic presidential race. Similarly, in 2008, Hillary’s NH primary victory over Obama set up an extended primary battle. NH is atypical of most Democratic states. Its lacks racial and ethnic diversity. Blacks constitute just 1.60% of the electorate and Latinos only 4.00% (Cohen & Cook 2022). Unlike most of the rest of strongly “Blue”-trending New England, NH is extremely swingy. In 2020, Democratic voters surpassed Republicans for the first time in voter registration. However, “undeclared” voters are the largest group in the Granite State and make up 39% of the vote during presidential elections. They are allowed to vote in either party’s presidential primary and have sometimes provided the margin of victory for both Democratic and GOP candidates. Manchester and Nashua, the state’s two largest cities, lean “Blue,” but sometimes vote “ Red.” NH’s capital, Concord, has a strong Democratic lean. Democratic strength is present in the seacoast towns of Portsmouth and Dover. Democrats are strong in towns around universities like Durham (University of New Hampshire), Keene (Keene State College), and Hanover (Dartmouth College). Another normally Democrat stronghold consists of counties across the Connecticut River from Vermont. GOP support is found in the towns and suburbs around Nashua and Manchester, where lower taxes have attracted Boston commuters. Rural North Country, where towns have long been hurt by the declining paper mill industry, are part of the “Red” camp. In 2016, Hillary barely beat Donald here, 47%-46%. In 2020, after four years of chaotic and anti-democratic actions by Demagogue Donald, Joe Biden took NH by a comfortable 8-point margin, 53%-45% (Cohen & Cook 2022).
NH election contests just don’t revolve around presidential primaries and elections. Senatorial contests can be critical and nail-biters as well. In 2014, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen beat former MA GOP Senator/carpetbagger Scott Brown by just 3 percentage points. Brown, with the help of rabid xenophobe Stephen Miller, later a key Trump aide, ran on a strong anti-immigration campaign and made the race much closer than anyone thought it would be. After this contest, GOPers, especially Demagogue Donald, decided to use anti-immigrant bashing as their 2016 theme (“Insurgency,” Peters, J., 2022). In 2016, the year Hillary barely bested Trump in NH, Democrat Maggie Hassan defeated GOPer U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte by just more than 1,000 votes out of more than 708,000 votes cast (Cohen & Cook 2022). Hassan will be running for a second term in 11/2022. She will face another close race that both parties believe will be crucial to control of the U.S. Senate. On 9/13/2022, with just 5% of the votes reported, Sen. Hassan has been declared the winner of the Democratic primary. She was super- thrashing her “nearest” opponent Paul Krautmann, 93.0 % v. 5.3 %, (nytimes.com, 9/13/22). The GOP Senate primary was more of a contest. In the end, ABC, NBC, and Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman called this very close race for Don Bolduc. Bolduc’s primary opponent, Chuck Morse conceded. With 87% of the votes in, Bolduc had 37% to Morse’s 36% (nytimes.com, 9/13/22, nbcnews.com, Gomez, abcnews.go.com, Axelrod, T., 9/14/22). It’s time to look at this race.
Don Bolduc is a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General. Laconia NH native Bolduc’s late father was a farmer who served in the National Guard (wmur.com, Armand Bolduc, currentobituary.com, 2018). Don Bolduc earned a 1989 B.A. from Salem State University and an M.S. from the U.S. Army War College (Searcy, D., 10/07/16). He served ten tours in Afghanistan and received two Purple Hearts. He was a battalion leader, task force commander, and commanded joint special operations. In 2001, he suffered a hip injury in a friendly fire incident. In 2005, Bolduc was diagnosed as having traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD (patch.com, 4/01/19, nytimes.com, Searcy, D., 10/07/16).
In 6/2019, Bolduc entered the NH GOP primary to run against Dem. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and lost to Trump-endorsed Corky Messner (nhpr.org, 6/24/19). Messner lost to Shaheen by 16 points when the latter ran for re-election (Cohen & Cook 2022). During Bolduc’s first campaign, he was criticized for an ad using the term “socialist pansies,” a remark rightly perceived as being homophobic (nytimes.com, Gabriel, 9/08/20). Bolduc even accused Trump of “rigging the 202 Senate primary” by endorsing his opponent (abcnews.go.com,). After the 2020 election, Bolduc tied himself to Demagogue Donald. He announced that he would run for the Senate again in 2022 to take Democrat Maggie Hassan’s seat (twitter.com, WMUR, 2/08/21). Hassan had middling approval records and an August poll from Anselm College found a majority of voters disapproved of her (nbcnews.com, 9/13/22, Gomez). When popular GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, whom the national GOP tried heavily to recruit for this race, decided to run for Governor again, Bolduc had his opening (nbcnews.com). He campaigned for two years, visited every NH town and city, and held over 50 town-hall events (nbcnews.com). Bolduc put “election denialism” at the head of his campaign, the “big lie” that Donald really beat Biden in 2020, despite all evidence to the contrary. He joined the likes of similar Trump fans who push “election denial” and anything Demagogue Donald believes in. These questionable candidates who pander to Donald’s extremist base include PA’s Dr. Oz, OH’s J.D. Vance, GA’s Herschel Walker, and AZ’s Blake Masters. GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, in fact, talked of the controversial “candidate quality” caliber many of these Senate candidates had that would make it difficult for his party to take back that chamber in 2022. Bolduc refused to apologize for signing an open letter with 123 other retired generals and admirals who promoted the lie that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged in Biden’s favor (politico, com, 5/11/21).”
Once he won the NH primary, Bolduc suddenly decided to pivot on the “election denial” issue. Two days after winning the GOP Senate primary, Bolduc suddenly took a radical U-turn on this issue. He now declared, “I’ve come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this: The election was not stolen.” Bolduc still believes that there was “fraud” in the 2020 election. However, he added, “Elections have consequences and, unfortunately, President Biden is the legitimate president of this country (cnn.com, Krieg & Merica, 9/15/22).” Wow! Typical GOP stunt. Let’s cancel or erase any prior absurd views to try to fool a majority of the voting public. Bolduc’s Democratic opponent Maggie Hassan immediately described his new stance on “election denial” as an “unconvincing cynical ploy.” Hassan’s spokesperson Kevin Donohoe nailed it. He declared, “Don Bolduc has spent an entire campaign touting the Big Lie, and he can’t hide from that record. He has said that he supports overturning the results of the 2024 election if it doesn’t go his way. A word salad on Fox will not erase his record of election denial (cnn.com, 9/15/22).”
Bolduc has other far out extremist views as well. Maybe he will try to falsely pivot on them too. Who knows? In 9/2021, he called for the resignation of Joint Chief of Staffs Chairman Mark Milley for taking “irresponsible and potentially treasonous actions” during Trump’s final weeks in the White House (foxnews.com, 9/16/21). Milley, according to many analysts and pundits, did his best to keep Trump from really “going off the rails” and making sure he finally left for Mar-a-Lago before Biden was sworn in. Bolduc has called for the repeal of the 17th Amendment which allows voters to directly elect their Senators, a key Tea Party obsession. After the FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, Bolduc questioned whether the FBI was even needed, “the defund the FBI” talk, far-right extremists are constantly using. And there is more. After well-liked Gov. Sununu announced he was not running for the Senate, Bolduc gave a conspiracy-filled interview on conservative talk radio. In this tin-foil rant, Bolduc denounced Sununu as a “Chinese Communist sympathizer” and claimed Sununu “supports terrorism (nhpr.org, Rogers, 8/19/22).” Sununu described Bolduc as “not a serious candidate” and a “conspiracy theorist.” He has said that he will not endorse Bolduc should he win the primary (Rogers, nhpr.org). Bolduc pushed for U.S. forces to “get in on the ground in Ukraine (abcnews.go, Axelrod, 9/14/22).” Such a move could have triggered a nuclear confrontation with Putin’s Russia. Biden, instead, trained Ukrainians and gave them weapons, including ones that Trump withheld. They are now taking back their country from the Russians. And oh yes, Bolduc falsely claimed that COVID-19 vaccines contained microchips and that wearing masks to combat COVID-19 was not helpful (Brufke , 8/19/22, “Washington Examiner”). On abortion, a key issue since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 6/2022, Bolduc insisted in the primary that he would “always default for a system that protects lives from beginning to end.” Anti-choice Bolduc had previously stated we should “rejoice” at the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade (email@example.com). However, when Hassan immediately attacked him for this extreme anti-choice stand, Bolduc suddenly distanced himself from Sen. Lindsey Graham’s measure to vote for a national abortion ban. Another ridiculous Bolduc flip-flop that’s up there with “election denial.” Hassan aptly stated that NH voters shouldn’t believe this new talk from Bolduc. Should he win the NH Senate race, Hassan correctly noted, Bolduc will vote with Graham and his fellow GOPers to ban abortion nationally (seacoastonline.com, Peoples & Ramer, AP, 9/14/22). Bolduc supports eliminating Social Security and drastically cutting Medicare as well (See wmur.com,9/14/22).
Fearful of landing another “F-“ GOP caliber Senate nominee and seeing Bolduc way ahead in polls of the primary race, a group with links to a super- PAC aligned with McConnell spent more than $4 million on ads in the final stretch of the race to keep Bolduc from winning (cnn.com, Cillizza, 9/14/22). Establishment GOPers in this group, including Gov. Sununu, also put their endorsements behind GOPer Chuck Morse, the president of NH’s State Senate (nytimes.com, Gabriel, 9/14/22). Morse emphasized non-cultural war is GOP issues. He called himself a fiscal conservative and did not push “election denial.” He has told reporters that he would not have objected to certifying Biden’s presidential victory (nbcnews.com, Gomez, 9/13/22). Although McConnell’s money and Morse’s views helped him in major NH cities, it was not enough. An “L” is an “L,” a loss remains a loss.
As previously noted, in this 11/2022 Senate marquee match, Bolduc will now face Sen. Maggie Hassan who is running for her second term. Born Maggie Wood, Boston, MA native Maggie Hassan was raised in a home that valued public service. Her father Robert Wood was an MIT political science professor who advised JFK during his 1960 race. When LBJ took office, Wood played a leading role in creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. He then served as president of the University of Massachusetts and superintendent of the Boston school system. Maggie Hassan received a 1980 undergraduate degree from RI’s Brown University and a 1985 law degree from MA’s Northeastern University Law School. She practiced law in Boston, including working as a corporate attorney for Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Cohen & Cook 2022). Her husband Tom Hassan later became the head of NH’s elite prep school Phillips Exeter Academy. One of Hassan’s two children, Ben, an adult son, suffers from cerebral palsy. Ben appeared in her first Senate campaign ad. Hassan credited Ben for her getting into public service. In 1999 then Dem. Gov., now senior Sen. Shaheen, appointed Hassan as a citizen adviser to NH’s Adequacy in Education and Finance Commission. Hassan became involved in disability rights while working to ensure that the elementary school her son Ben attended could accommodate his needs (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In 2002, Hassan first ran for the NH State Senate, but lost to incumbent GOPer Russell Prescott by eight points. In 2004, she defeated Prescott by 4 points (ourcampaigns.com, 11/05/02 & 11/02/04). She served for six years in that office where she became assistant Democratic whip, president pro tempore, and State Senate majority leader. She represented towns in NH’s 23rd State Senate District, including Exeter, East Kingston, and South Hampton.While in the state Senate, Hassan helped pass a bill offering universal kindergarten. At that time, NH was the only state without such a law. She played a key role in getting NH to legalize same sex marriage, six years before the Supreme Ct. recognized such unions nationwide. While Obamacare was being debated in Congress, Hassan also helped pass a bill in NH that set up a commission to regulate health care costs that GOPers nicknamed “Maggie Care.” In GOP year 2010, Hassan lost to Prescott in a rematch when the GOP took over both the NH state House and state Senate (seacoastonline.com, 11/02/10, Cohen & Cook 2022)
In 2011, when incumbent Dem. Gov. John Lynch said he would not seek a fifth two-year term, Hassan entered the race to succeed him. Hassan pushed for a proposed casino on the MA border to raise revenue in a state that stands alone in its lack of a broad-base tax. Hassan easily won her Democratic primary. In the 2012 general election, helped by Obama’s strong NH showing, Hassan beat her hard-line conservative opponent by 12 points (Cohen & Cook 2022). In 2014, Hassan defeated a self-funding GOPer by 6 points, in a year that nationally did not favor Democrats. In her first term as Governor, Hassan easily passed a budget that cleared the NH House with just 20 dissenting votes. She restored cuts to the university system that the GOP had previously made. She secured bipartisan support to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, which allowed 50, 000 residents to received subsidized health care and substance abuse treatment in a state hit hard by opioid addiction (Cohen & Cook 2022). In her second term, Hassan vetoed a GOP bill that would have allowed the concealed carrying of firearms without a license. She signed the nation’s first law banning sub-minimum wages for people with disabilities (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In 2016, Hassan ran against GOP incumbent U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte. Hassan constantly tried to tie Ayotte to Trump. Polls showed Hillary with a wide lead over Trump in NH. However, when Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape came out in 10/2016 in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, Ayotte disavowed Donald and wrote in the name of VP Pence for President, showing Ayotte’s “independence” form her ticket. The polls proved very wrong. Hassan, as previously noted, barely won, with just over a 1,000 vote margin and Hillary also barley eked by, 47%-46% (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In the Senate, Hassan and her senior Granite State colleague Shaheen are close. Hassan considers Shaheen a mentor. The two of them have similar voting records and operating styles. Hassan, like Shaheen, chooses her words carefully. During Trump’s time in office, Hassan voted with him just 28.7% of the time (projects.fivethirtyeight.com) in a swingy state that later turned against him. She sits on the Finance, Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committees. She also has seats on the Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs Committees (CQ 117th Cong. at Your Fingertips). Hassan is best known for criticizing Betsy DeVos at her nomination hearing for Education Secretary when she did not understand that disability rights were governed by a federal law, not the states (Cohen & Cook 2022). Hassan has a “D” rating from the National Rifle Association and supports background checks to avoid gun sales to the mentally ill. Former Dem. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head by a crazed individual and suffered brain damage, supported Hassan’s 2016 election (nytimes.com, Steinhauer, 9/04/16). Hassan had 100% labor ratings in 2019 as well as 95% ratings that year from the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA). She has a strong record for supporting Pres. Biden. However, in often socially conservative NH, Hassan supported some immigration restrictions that Trump had imposed and wanted Biden to put more resources at the southern border with Mexico (wmur.com, 4/10/22). In fiscally conservative NH, she also opposed raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour in Biden’s American Rescue Plan (Everett, 3/05/21). She went against most Democrats by pushing for a federal gas tax holiday (nytimes.com, Gabriel & Bender, 9/12/22). Again, this is NH, not neighboring VT or CA. The ACLU gave Hassan a 69% rating in 2020 (Cohen & Cook 2022). Hassan was in the Senate chamber on the day of the 1/06/2022 attempted Trump coup on the Capitol and was evacuated from the building. She called this event “traumatizing” and “one of the grimmest days in the history of our country.” She called on Trump to resign, and said he was “unfit for office (Underwood, nbcboston.com, 1/07/21).”
Can Hassan win re-election? With control of the Senate at stake in 2022, this race will probably be a heavily contested one. Politicians running for a second term, who barely won their first race, often face close re-election fights. Yes, Bolduc is a far- right tin foil hatter and Hassan has already started attacking him as “simply too extreme” for the state (nbcnews.com, Gomez). She will have to keep doing this without stop till Election Day and highlight his cynical flip-flop stunts. Already, the GOP has poured millions of dollars into ads against her to tarnish her reputation (nbcnews.com, Gomez, 9/13/22). Sen. Hassan has $7.3 million in her campaign war chest. However, PACS tied to GOP Senate leaders have reserved $23 million for NH. Many NH GOPers, even Gov. Sununu, have started to change their minds about their nominee (washingtonexaminer.com, 9/12/22). They now plan to unite behind Bolduc. Hassan has spent millions on ads saying that she has been “ranked the most bipartisan senator,” but her approval rating, thanks to GOP attacks, has stalled around 45% (nytimes.com, Gabriel, 9/14/22). Democrats must keep financially supporting her to level the playing field. In addition, Granite State Democrats, independents, and moderate GOPers must come out in droves to support Hassan in November. Trumpist candidates like Bolduc must be soundly thrashed. Our democracy depends upon it.