Politics

Gun shoot will conclude former Trump aide’s House primary race

A heated New Hampshire primary in the state’s 1st Congressional District is going out with a literal bang.

New Hampshire Republican 1st Congressional District Candidate Karoline Leavitt speaks during a debate, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, in Henniker, N.H. AP Photo/Mary Schwalm


A heated New Hampshire primary in the state’s 1st Congressional District is going out with a literal bang.

Politics

Karoline Leavitt, 25, who served an assistant in President Donald Trump’s press office and turned the primary into a bitter battle over which candidate carried the mantle of Trumpism, was set to close her campaign Monday night with a gun shoot at the Londonderry Fish & Game Club in Litchfield, New Hampshire.

Special guests include two Republican members of Congress: Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Byron Donalds of Florida, Freedom Caucus members who represent the hard right wing of the party that Leavitt has aligned herself with. Boebert is pairing the campaign event with a signing of her memoir, “My American Life.”

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The event was set to be a splashy coda for a candidate who gained traction with conservative voters by reaching for the most extreme and provocative statements and molding herself in the image of Trump.

The candidate who appears to be ahead, Matt Mowers, 33, is also a former Trump administration official billing himself as an “America First” conservative. He was set to spend the final night of his campaign visiting bars and restaurants in Manchester, a campaign aide said. The two former Trump aides are vying for the chance to run against the incumbent, Rep. Chris Pappas, a Democrat.

The tight race between Leavitt and Mowers divided MAGA Republicans and the party’s leaders in the House. The minority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, and former Trump campaign aides like Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie endorsed Mowers. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who is the No. 3 House Republican, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were among those who endorsed Leavitt.

Mowers, who won the Republican nomination for the same House seat in 2020 but lost to Pappas, entered the race a year ago as the presumed front-runner. But Leavitt mounted a strident and surprisingly fierce challenge by billing herself as the anti-establishment candidate and savaging her opponent as a creature of the political “swamp.”

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A recent poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center showed Mowers leading Leavitt by a thin margin: 26% to 24%, barely more than the 2.2-point margin of error, though 26% of likely voters said they remained undecided.

“Karoline Leavitt has been the straw that stirred the drink,” said Dante J. Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.

In campaign mailers, Mowers touted his 2020 endorsement from the former president, who did not endorse either of his former aides in this year’s race.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with McCarthy, has spent more than $1.3 million supporting Mowers. Another super PAC that supports moderate Republicans, Defending Main Street, has spent over $1.2 million and is running an ad that describes Leavitt as a “woke Gen-Z’er” and plays a Snapchat video she once posted in which she used crude language to refer to her viewers.

The race will be decided Tuesday night.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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