Former Trump aide wins New Hampshire GOP House primary to take on Pappas

Karoline Leavitt was running against another former Trump staffer.

September 13, 2022, 11:52 PM

ABC News reports that Karoline Leavitt is projected to win Tuesday's GOP primary to take on Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., setting up a general election matchup in one of the nation's most competitive House races.

Leavitt, a former White House press staffer under President Donald Trump, defeated Matt Mowers, another Trump administration aide, and Gail Huff Brown, the wife of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. With about 57% of the expected vote in, Leavitt led the field with 34% of the vote, compared with 25% for Mowers in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District.

The results conclude what morphed into a bitter battle between two ideologically aligned foes who found a sliver of difference within the GOP's right flank.

Both Leavitt and Mowers cast themselves as staunch Trump allies and had big name Republican backers to boot: New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 House Republican, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz backed Leavitt while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana were among those supporting Mowers.

PHOTO: Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives Karoline Leavitt listens during a Get Out the Vote Rally in Londonderry, N.H., Sept. 8, 2022.
Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives Karoline Leavitt listens during a Get Out the Vote Rally in Londonderry, N.H., Sept. 8, 2022.
Brian Snyder/Reuters

Yet, where Mowers called for audits of the 2020 presidential race, Leavitt adamantly -- and baselessly -- denied the results. And while Mowers has said he would examine a push to impeach President Joe Biden, Leavitt has said she would support impeachment.

The result marks a setback for McCarthy, who is setting himself up to serve as speaker if Republicans flip the House in November. The affiliated Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC spent more than $1.3 million supporting Mowers, who said he would back a McCarthy speakership bid. Leavitt, meanwhile, initially said she would support Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, as speaker before changing to say she'd support McCarthy.

Leavitt will now face Pappas in one of Republicans' top flip opportunities. Pappas defeated Mowers in the 2020 election by 5 points, though the district has flipped between the two parties five times since the start of the century.

In New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District, meanwhile, former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns is projected to win the GOP nomination for the chance to take on Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster, another endangered incumbent.

Burns defeated Keene Mayor George Hansel.

Hansel is the pro-abortion rights mayor of a liberal town and has focused on kitchen table issues like inflation and heating bills. Burns, meanwhile, campaigned on his anti-abortion stance and other policies like building a border wall and opposition to vaccine mandates, seemingly in a bid to endear himself more to GOP primary voters.

Democrats sought to meddle in that primary to boost Burns with primary voters, with a new PAC running an ad introducing him as a Trump ally with strong conservative credentials.

Kuster won her 2020 race by about 10 points.

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