This house race is New Ground Zero in the MAGA civil wars

What started as a comfortable race for a Kevin McCarthy-backed candidate has turned into a hotly contested primary that will pit some of the biggest names in the MAGA world against one another as the race comes to a close.

Along the affluent Seacoast region of the Granite State in the 1st congressional district, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s Congressional Leadership Fund has already spent more than $1.3 million to help Matt Mowers, a former Trump White House adviser at the State Department , to support. The PAC too placed a $407,369 ad buy for mowers on Friday.

On the other side is Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY), the third-seed Republican in the House of Representatives, who supports her former press secretary Karoline Leavitt. At 25, Leavitt would be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress if she wins the general election.

The confirmations in the primary — with Mowers and Leavitt neck and neck in the University of New Hampshire’s latest poll from late August — are broadly similar to other MAGA proxy fights, but the district’s demographics and House leadership involvement give this power struggle its own own seasoning.

Rep. Jim Jordan (OH) endorsed Leavitt Thursday, joining other hardline Trump acolytes including Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Sen. Mike Lee (UT), outgoing Rep. Madison Cawhthorn (NC), former Defense Department chief of staff, to Kash Patel, and Rep. Al Baldasaro, the dean of the New Hampshire wing of MAGA.

Alongside McCarthy, Mowers has the support of Rep. Steve Scalise (LA), the Minority Whip — as well as Sen. Tom Cotton (AR), Trump’s former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under the former president.

Leavitt has escalated her attacks on Mowers, most recently during his tenure as chief of staff for Dr. Deborah Birx when she was in charge of the Trump administration’s AIDS response contingency plan. Despite the lack of overlap with Birx in the White House during the COVID-19 pandemic, Leavitt on Twitter denounced Birx as a “DEEP STATE DOCTOR.”

Mowers has been less vocal about his own attacks, but Leavitt has nonetheless been ridiculed in negative ads by outside groups.

An attack ad by the Defending Main Street Super PAC, which aligns itself with moderate Republicans, shows Snapchat footage of Leavitt saying, “Listen, Hobags,” and describing her as a “bright Gen-Zer” who “records everything.” “.

With the opportunity for the GOP to oust second-term MP Chris Pappas (D), whose seat the Cook Political Report ranks as a Democratic toss-up, outside money has flowed into the race. The lion’s share of those expenses benefited Mowers, totaling just over $2.5 million as of Sept. 1, although Leavitt, although it was her first run for office, with over $1.2 million as an actor amazing fundraiser year and $666.00 in cash, according to OpenSecrets.

Mowers, who won the GOP nomination before losing 5 percentage points to Pappas in 2020, borrowed $102,220 before the second-quarter deadline, according to campaign finance records. Stefanik’s PAC has given Leavitt’s campaign $10,000 so far this year, according to OpenSecrets.

He’s a fixture at local party events, which have popped up whenever potential presidential candidates are in town, including alongside Cotton on his tour of the Granite State just weeks before the 2020 election. He was also there as the former vice president Mike Pence led the Hillsborough County GOP’s annual fundraiser. A native of Bergen County, New Jersey, Mowers relocated to New Hampshire in 2013 to serve as executive director of the state GOP, according to the New Jersey Globe.

Leavitt grew up in Atkinson, NH, where her parents own Leavitt’s Ice Cream. A 2019 graduate of Saint Anselm College, she joined the Trump administration to work under Kayleigh McEnany the summer after graduation. In addition to her experience in the White House and as Stefanik’s press secretary, Leavitt also had a three-year stint at WMUR, the only local television station in New Hampshire.

Both the Mowers and Leavitt campaigns have not responded to requests for comment.

McCarthy and Stefanik’s PACs also did not respond to requests for comment.

“The NRCC does not interfere in primaries,” NRCC communications director Michael McAdams told The Daily Beast.

Neither former President Trump nor Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu supported the race.

But a Trump confirmation here would be risky and unlikely to bring the same boost as usual in a hard-fought primary like this. It could ultimately backfire, according to the latest UNH poll.

The poll found that a Trump endorsement would make 36% of undecided voters less likely to vote for that candidate, compared to just 16% of that group who said it would make them more likely to support his choice.

District composition matters, with a more educated and better-paid electorate than New Hampshire’s 2nd District in the western half of the state, according to Andrew Smith, director of the UNH survey.

Then there’s former local Boston television reporter Gail Huff-Brown, who Smith noted could end up as a potential beneficiary of the noise surrounding Leavitt and Mowers.

“Leavitt is the ‘trumpiest’ of the candidates but is considered a 25-year-old lightweight,” Smith told The Daily Beast. “Huff-Brown will likely benefit from the mud fight between Mowers and Leavitt.” This house race is New Ground Zero in the MAGA civil wars


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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