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Don Bolduc celebrates win in New Hampshire's Republican Senate primary

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Republicans in New Hampshire have made their choices in three key primaries, choosing candidates Don Bolduc, Karoline Leavitt and Robert Burns, who all worked to align themselves with former President Donald Trump. New Hampshire Public Radio's Josh Rogers reports.

JOSH ROGERS, BYLINE: As Don Bolduc celebrated his razor-thin win in New Hampshire's Republican U.S. Senate primary early this morning, he smiled and held aloft a circular shield pierced by three arrows.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DON BOLDUC: We have taken their arrows. We have successfully protected ourselves.

ROGERS: The retired Army general, who served 10 tours of duty in Afghanistan, has been fighting to get to the Senate for some time. Bolduc first ran in 2020, lost in the primary and never stopped running. That head start, and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu's decision to opt out of the race, gave Bolduc an opening. And he took it, doggedly courting conservatives statewide.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOLDUC: And that's what resonates with everybody because they're tired of lack of representation that they're getting in career politicians serving themselves and not serving the people.

ROGERS: Bolduc edged New Hampshire State Senate President Chuck Morse in the five-way primary, in which Democrats spent to boost Bolduc's chances in the race. Bolduc represents a trend that emerged across the state Tuesday night. Populism of a Trumpian flavor carried the day on the Republican ticket.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAROLINE LEAVITT: As your congresswoman, I will fight to pass term limits and drain the swamp.

(APPLAUSE)

ROGERS: Twenty-five-year-old Karoline Leavitt, a former Trump administration press aide, ran up a convincing win over a crowded field in New Hampshire's first district race for a true swing seat. Like Bolduc, Leavitt positioned herself as the anti-establishment Republican. The former White House and congressional staffer echoed the former president's lies about the 2020 election. She hopes campaigning on term limits in Congress and other Trumpian talking points will send her to Washington. Meanwhile, in the race for New Hampshire's other district, it was Robert Burns, a serial candidate, who went all-in embracing Trumpism at every campaign stop and in every ad.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD, "BURNS - THE ONLY PRO-TRUMP, PRO-LIFE CONSERVATIVE RUNNING")

UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: Robert Burns is the only pro-Trump, pro-life candidate running in New Hampshire's second congressional district.

ROGERS: Whether there's an upshot of Republicans nominating such hard-right candidates in purple-state New Hampshire is far from clear. But how the Democrats intend to take them on? Well, that's readily apparent. The three incumbents - Senator Maggie Hassan and Representatives Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster - all cast doubt on their GOP rivals' electability. Abortion rights and the specter of a national abortion ban was a throughline for Maggie Hassan, the candidate in the state's biggest race.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAGGIE HASSAN: In the world's greatest democracy, Don Bolduc will make women second-class citizens. This is what's at stake.

ROGERS: Republicans, meanwhile, say economic issues, like inflation and energy costs, are what's most at stake for voters, and they expect those to drive outcomes in November here.

For NPR News, I'm Josh Rogers in Concord, N.H. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000 and serves as NHPRâââ