() With a red-wave sweeping former tossup seats into GOP territory, another round of once safe Democrat seats is filling their place as the neck-and-neck races to watch in the final week before the 2022 midterm election.
In terms of high-profile Senate contests that may determine the margins of a GOP majority, no race is now more tightly contested than the one in New Hampshire, where retired Brigadier Gen. Don Bolduc has incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan locked in sight.
Now, a potentially game-changing endorsement could put him over the edge.
Former President Donald Trump posted on social media early Monday morning that he’s backing Bolduc, saying the he won the GOP’s nomination to run for U.S. Senate because he was a “strong and proud election denier.”
Trump acknowledged that Bolduc later “disavowed” claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, but said he has since “come back” with recent comments about alleged voter fraud in New Hampshire.
“Nevertheless, Don Bolduc has asked for my Endorsement, and he’s got it, Complete & Total,” Trump posted. “His opponent is a disaster on Crime, the Border, Inflation, & all else.”
Hassan’s campaign dismissed Trump’s endorsement, but suggested it means Bolduc might not accept the results of the election, if he loses.
“Donald Trump said it himself: Don Bolduc is an election denier, and his endorsement is further evidence that if elected, Don Bolduc would work to overturn our elections and continue to promote dangerous conspiracy theories that undermine New Hampshire’s free and fair elections,” Hassan’s campaign said in a statement.
Trump’s endorsement comes as national Republicans are pouring more money and resources into the Bolduc–Hassan race, with less than a week ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm election.
Last week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced that it plans to spend $1 million on a new round of ads, in cooperation with Bolduc’s campaign, targeting Hassan’s record on immigration, energy and taxes.
The move is a shift in strategy for national Republican super PACs which until recently had been pulling out of the race.
“Granite Staters are ready to send Bolduc to Washington because unlike Maggie Hassan, he will fight for them every day!” NRSC chair Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., posted on social media following a visit to the state over the weekend to campaign for Bolduc.
A recent Emerson College poll showed Hassan leading Bolduc 48% to 45%, well within the margin of error.
A poll by the conservative American Greatness found it to be a statistical dead-heat, with Hassan leading by only 1%.
Real Clear Politics–which puts the polling average at 3.4%, well within the margin of bias—has ranked the Senate race a “toss up” that favors Democrats, although the Cook Political Report still rates it as “lean Democrat” in the upcoming election.
Republicans need to flip at least one Democratic seat and hold onto seats in five other battleground states to take control of the U.S. Senate next year.
But their prospects seem increasingly optimistic, with RCP projecting three pickups that discount the closeness of the New Hampshire race and a shockingly competitive race in Washington state that pits former nurse and military wife Tiffany Smiley against incumbent Democrat Patty Murray.
Bolduc, who lost the GOP nomination for New Hampshire’s other Senate seat in 2020, narrowly edged out centrist New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse in the Sept. 13 state primary to win the Republican nomination to challenge Hassan.
Hassan, a former New Hampshire governor, defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in a narrow race in 2016 to win the seat. She is seeking another four-year term.
Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaiian former Democrat, has come forward in support of Bolduc.
Election integrity has been an issue in New Hampshire since the 2016 election, when then-Republican presidential candidate Trump claimed busloads of Massachusetts Democrats were brought into the state to vote against him. Trump reiterated the allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 elections, which he ultimately lost.
Those claims were rebuked by then-New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a Democrat who said there was no evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 elections.
During a recent debate, Bolduc reiterated claims that Democrats bused in voters from other states to vote illegally in New Hampshire, but he declined to say if he believed those claims.
“I’m saying that this is what Granite Staters are telling me, and I think it’s valid,” Bolduc said.
Recent polls have shown that New Hampshire voters have concerns about voter fraud on a national level, but are increasingly confident about the state’s election system.
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.