New Hampshire battleground site of Saint Anselm alumni victory


Courtesy/Jason Kolnos

Lily Tang Williams shakes hands with Brady Quinn ‘23 at NHIOP GOP debate

Kellan Barbee, Crier Staff

While New Hampshire is known for its “First in the Nation” Presidential Primary, it is home to one of the latest non-presidential primaries. Three states, including New Hampshire, held their primaries on September 13th.

At the top of the ballot, the race for United States Senate featured a contentious Republican primary where voters had a choice of eleven candidates. Of the eleven, only three finished with greater than ten percent of the vote: retired Gen. Don Bolduc, state Senate President Chuck Morse, and former Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith. Throughout the primary season, polls showed Bolduc as the frontrunner. The polls turned out to be correct, as Bolduc won the primary with 37.1% of the vote, while Morse, keeping it closer than expected, earned 35.8%. Smith finished third with just 11.7% of the vote. In November, Bolduc will take on entrenched Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan. While some say New Hampshire could be one of the closest Senate races in the nation, expect Hassan, who is no stranger to tough elections, to win by a respectable margin.

In the other statewide race, incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu easily won the Republican nomination to seek a fourth term with 78.7%, while various challengers took the remaining 21.3%. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Tom Sherman was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Despite Sununu’s eagerness to achieve core tenants of the Republican platform, namely a twenty-four week abortion ban, school choice through costly “education freedom accounts”, and gerrymandering electoral districts, New Hampshire Democrats seem to support the governor. Even with an arguably top-tier Democratic recruit, Sununu should comfortably win in November.

New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District, like the gubernatorial race, featured a contested Republican primary and an uncontested Democratic primary. Republican voters had three main choices: former Hillsborough County Treasurer Bob Burns, Keene Mayor George Hansel, and conservative activist Lily Tang Williams. Many saw Hansel, who was the most moderate of the candidates, as a top-tier recruit to take on five-term Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster. Those hopes did not pan out as Hansel placed second. Despite his questionable ties to the district, Burns won the nomination with 32.9% of the vote to Hansel’s 30.2%. Tang Williams placed third with 24.9% of the vote. Republicans have sought to knock off Kuster since she was first elected in 2012, and Hansel may have made that goal easier to attain. With Burns, though, they place this goal just out of reach. Kuster won with ease in both 2018 and 2020; 2022 should be no different.

Student and staff alumni of Saint Anselm were among the many competing in both Democratic and Republican primaries across the state. In New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, Republican voters had a choice of ten candidates, but polling indicated only three were popular with primary voters: 2020 Republican nominee Matt Mowers, former White House staffer Karoline Leavitt (a 2019 graduate of Saint Anselm College), and former journalist Gail Huff Brown. Early polls indicated Mowers had a commanding lead, but as the primary approached, Leavitt and Brown both gained traction with voters. In the end, Leavitt’s momentum was enough; she won the primary with 34.4% of the vote. Mowers placed second, with 24.9% of the vote, and Brown rounded out the top three with 17.4%. Leavitt will face Democratic incumbent Chris Pappas in November. Many election forecasters predict this race to be one of the closest in the nation. Pappas, alog with most New Hampshire Democrats, is a prolific fundraiser. His history of strong electoral performances, the charged political environment, and his strong fundraising numbers should be enough to keep this seat in Democratic hands.

Taking a more local look, a former Saint Anselm professor got a step closer to serving in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Dr. Nicole Leapley, a former professor at Saint Anselm, advanced to the general election in November after winning one of two spots in the Democratic primary. In addition, state Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy, a graduate of Saint Anselm College, was unopposed in the Democratic primary for New Hampshire’s 18th senate district.

If there is a narrative to assign to this primary, it is that September 13th, 2022 may have been the final nail in the coffin for moderate Republicans in the Granite State. So-called “MAGA” Republicans, those more closely aligned with former President Donald Trump, trounced their opponents in the Republican primary. This has been a recurring theme throughout the national primary season, and poses many problems for Republicans nationwide if the high partisan polarization we have seen continues.