Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bryant “Corky” Messner will advance to the general election in November, where he’ll challenge a two-term incumbent.
Just before 11:30 p.m., the Associated Press called Tuesday’s primary for Messner, who will now take on U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in November.
“I humbly thank the voters of New Hampshire for their support,” Messner, of Wolfeboro, said in a statement posted to his Twitter account shortly after the AP called the race. “Granite Staters are tired of career politicians and Washington bureaucrats. They deserve a U.S. Senator committed to individual liberty and economic freedom, a political outsider who understands how to revitalize our economy and bring common sense and New Hampshire values to the issues we face.”
Meanwhile, Messner’s primary opponent Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general from Stratham, said Tuesday night that he wouldn’t concede until all votes have been counted.
But in a statement Wednesday morning, Bolduc said, "Voters have spoken and I respect their decision. While I do have serious concerns about the corruption and disproportionate influence of money and outside interests in this process, I’m grateful to have had the chance to speak with so many wonderful people in our state and I’ll never forget those who supported our campaign.“
Messner, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, was beating Bolduc statewide by 10,460 votes as of about 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to the AP. Messner was not immediately available for comment early Wednesday morning.
A native of Altoona, Pa., Messner, 63, has owned a home in Wolfeboro for 14 years. He graduated from West Point and completed Ranger school before serving in the Army in West Germany during the Cold War. He later opened a law firm and became a real estate investor.
He ran on a platform of limited government and safely getting businesses back on track after many closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Messner won the majority of Monadnock Region towns, Bolduc, a Laconia native, received more local votes, with 3,617 to Messner’s 3,531, with only Hancock not responding.
Bolduc, who spent more than three decades in the military, ran on a platform focused on veterans issues, Second Amendment rights and, like Messner, spoke in favor of a smaller role for the federal government.
Bolduc enjoyed a strong lead in Rindge, where he received 457 votes compared to Messner’s 274, and in Swanzey, where he finished with 331 votes to Messner’s 257. Bolduc also came out ahead in Chesterfield, Dublin, Gilsum, Langdon, Richmond, Sullivan and Winchester.
Shortly after midnight Wednesday, Bolduc told The Sentinel he intended to wait until the morning to determine whether or not he will concede to Messner. He said he feels he put up a good fight despite not receiving the president’s endorsement and being dramatically outspent.
“I’m thankful for all the support we received from the people of New Hampshire, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to run in a U.S. Senate race,” he said. “We’re fighting the establishment and I feel real good about the challenge that we gave them.”
Bolduc said he doesn’t have any immediate plans to run again. Instead, he said he’ll shift his focus back to advocating for veterans and teaching at New England College in Henniker.
Though Messner and Bolduc were the major contenders, there were two additional candidates in Tuesday’s primary — Andy Martin of Manchester and Gerard Beloin of Colebrook. Of the results available by early Wednesday morning, Martin had won a single community — Dixville, where only one vote was cast in the U.S. Senate GOP primary.
Shaheen, a former New Hampshire governor who lives in Madbury when she’s not in Washington, easily won the Democratic primary Tuesday night.
Shortly after the race was called for Messner, Shaheen’s campaign issued a statement on her Twitter account calling Messner “a Colorado transplant who moved here to try to buy himself a Senate seat.”
In his Twitter statement, Messner said the general election is of the utmost importance and that he’s looking forward to working with the president.
“This November’s election is critical to this state and this nation,” he said. “And I look forward to working with President Trump to keep America great.”