Maggie Hassan's lucky break
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) was initially seen as one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election this year. But as New Hampshire's Sept. 13 primary draws closer, there's still no clear Republican frontrunner to take her on in November.
Why it matters: The GOP establishment's failure to coalesce around one viable candidate after its initial favorite — New Hampshire's current Gov. Chris Sununu — decided not to enter the race has helped clear the way for Democratic incumbent.
- "Sununu's decision to forego the Senate race turned the race from a slam dunk into a coin toss," Ken Spain, a Republican strategist and former GOP campaign official, told Axios.
- "New Hampshire falls into the growing category of races where Republicans are relying on the political environment to carry some of their candidates across the finish line."
Driving the news: Hassan raised $5 million in the second quarter of 2022, with roughly $7 million in the bank, according to her campaign.
- That's more than five times the combined amount raised by the three main Republican candidates backed by the GOP establishment: Chuck Morse, president of the New Hampshire Senate; Kevin Smith, former director of a conservative advocacy group, and Don Bolduc, a retired Army general.
- Morse in particular has been name-dropped by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chair of Senate Republicans' campaign arm.
By the numbers: The leading Republicans in the primary all raised less in the second quarter of 2022 than they did in the first quarter.
- Morse’s campaign raised $538,000 in Q2, $100,000 of which he personally gave to his campaign, according to his latest FEC filing. That's more than $200,000 less than what he brought in during Q1. Morse has $975,000 cash on hand.
- Smith raised $318,000 in Q2, nearly $100,000 less than last quarter. He has roughly $349,000 cash on hand.
- Bolduc raised $84,000 in Q2, roughly $15,000 less than what he raised in Q1. His campaign has $65,000 in the bank.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton is leading in Q2 fundraising numbers, but that's because he donated more than $1 million to his campaign. He raised roughly $20,000 in Q2 and has more than $1.6 million cash on hand.
- Vikram Mansharamanni, a businessman, brought in the second highest Q2 total. He raised $831,000, roughly $250,000 of which he personally contributed.
Between the lines: Incumbents typically raise more than challengers, which has given Hassan an extra edge as the GOP field has splintered.
What they're saying: "We aren't seeing a clear front-runner emerge in the current GOP field, as of right now," Jeff Grappone, who worked on former Sen. Kelly Ayotte's (R-N.H.) campaign. "We've started to see, only recently, the candidates contrast against each other."
- Yes, but: Grappone says while the "wide-open" field is concerning, he's confident whoever emerges from the September primary will still be in a very strong position. "Republicans have tremendous political winds blowing in their favor," he said.
The bottom line: "The race depends on a couple of things. One is, do the Republicans nominate an electable candidate? And there's no guarantee that that would happen," Tom Rath, former attorney general of New Hampshire and adviser to several GOP presidential candidates, tells Axios.
- "The second is, what does the electorate look like that actually votes?" Rath added.