They both worked for donald trump and have focused their congressional campaigns on the former president’s policies.
But in Tuesday’s race to be the Republican candidate in new hampshire‘s 1st Congressional District, Republicans Matt Mowers and Karoline Leavitt are in a bitter fight that has more to do with style than substance, one that has fractured Republican loyalties and thrown a spotlight on how to run with the politics of Trump in a Republican primary is often not as powerful as running as Trump himself.
Mowers and Leavitt are seen as the two leading candidates in an expanding field of Republicans. looking to take on Rep. Chris Pappas, one of the most vulnerable House Democrats in the country. With election forecasters toning down their predictions of months of an overwhelming electoral surge for Republicans. this novemberright-wing operatives are viewing targets like Pappas as must-have targets if the GOP wants to win control of the chamber.
“Watching these two try to out-Trump each other, with Matt trying to walk the fine line between speaking in good faith of his Trump administration while also preserving his eligibility in a general election…has allowed an opportunity to Leavitt, who is running as this pure Trump, election-denying candidate,” said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party who votes for Russell Prescott, a former member of the New Hampshire Executive Council.
Cullen said he won’t vote for Leavitt if he wins the nomination: “New Hampshire doesn’t need Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert to represent us,” he said, a sentiment that underscores fears about a Leavitt win.
recent surveys shows that the race is stalled. A statewide Granite poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire and released in late August found Mowers at 26% and Leavitt at 24%, well within the poll’s margin of error. A significant 26% of likely Republican primary voters were undecided.
Mowers’ ties to New Hampshire date back to the 2014 election cycle, when he was working as executive director of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. In the 2016 cycle, Mowers initially worked for Chris Christie when the Governor of New Jersey was seeking the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. But when Christie’s campaign failed, Mowers went to work for the Trump campaign and, after the Republican victory, for the State Department. Mowers, backed by Trump, unsuccessfully challenged Pappas in 2020.
By comparison, Leavitt is more of a newcomer to politics. After graduating from Saint Anselm College in 2019, the Republican went to work in the Trump White House. He eventually became deputy press secretary to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. After Trump’s loss, he went to work for Rep. Elise Stefanik, now the third-place House Republican.
Although Mowers is running on a Trump-endorsed policy (his website blaringly proclaims “Drain the Swamp” and has a full page on “Electoral Integrity”), his style is more measured than the kind of politics that has defined the orbit. from Trump’s political acolytes, a warning. that has opened the door to the more aggressive Leavitt.
Recent debates in the primaries have highlighted these stylistic differences.
Earlier this month, when Mowers was asked if he was confident in the election, the candidate said“I am confident in the New Hampshire election,” but added that there was room for “improvement.”
That wasn’t good enough for Leavitt, who criticized Mowers and echoed Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
“I consistently remain the only candidate in this race who has said that I think the 2020 election was certainly stolen from President Trump,” Leavitt said, turning her attack on Mowers by noting that voted twice in the 2016 primary and saying Mowers agrees with Joe Biden that the president “legitimately won more votes than Donald Trump.”
“I reject that,” she says.
These differences continued when asked if Biden should be impeached.
Leavitt was unequivocal. “Yes,” he said, citing border security.
Mowers was more cautious, calling for “hearings to look into these things.”
After the debate, organized by WMUR, Leavitt put a finer point in your strategy: “Voters are finally realizing who Matt Mowers is. He is a politician who gets along and cannot answer a direct question, ”he told the outlet.
The race has also divided the House leadership.
Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, the top two Republicans in the House, have both mowers approved. Leavitt, in addition to Stefanik’s supporthe also garnered the backing of some of his party’s far-right leaders, such as RepsJim Jordan Y Boebert.
Money has flooded the race, with millions spent to try to protect mowers from a Leavitt surge.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, the House’s incumbent Republican super PAC, has spent nearly $2 million defending mowers. Defending Main Street, a centrist Republican super PAC, has spent $1.2 million with ads that say Leavitt “pretends to be conservative” and calls her “woke”, “immature” and “irresponsible”.
Leavitt has responded to outside spending with $285,000 of his own spending, including in an ad that attacks lawnmowers by voting in New Hampshire and New Jersey during the 2016 primaryHe accuses him of trying to “sabotage President Trump” and labels him “another swamp doormat.”
He has also tried to turn the avalanche of money against him into an attack on Mowers, venting on twitter that she was “officially the main target of the DC money machine” because “the establishment knows I’m the biggest threat to their stooge Matt Mowers”.
Democrats have viewed the primaries with a mix of trepidation, joy and concern.
Collin Gately, a spokesman for Pappas, said the Republican primary has been dominated by “extremism and ugliness” and that neither candidate “has a clue how to help New Hampshire families, and voters will reject their agenda.” extreme”.
But even the most optimistic members of the party acknowledge that Pappas is vulnerable. Still, many believe the controversial GOP primary, coupled with the fact that the race ends in September, less than two months before the general election, could help the New Hampshire Democrat win.
Pappas has already begun to distance himself from Biden. The same University of New Hampshire Survey found that 54% of New Hampshire adults disapproved of Biden’s performance, while 43% approved of it.
In response to the president’s plan to cancel some debates on student loans, Pappas said he “should be more specific and paid for so it doesn’t increase the deficit.”
And he removed Biden’s description of Trump supporters as “semi-fascists” days before the primaries, tell the reporters that Biden “has to be careful not to paint with too broad a brush.”
Mowers is married to a senior video producer at CNN.