Mowers, Negron win NH GOP primaries, to face Pappas, Kuster

A former official in President Donald Trump’s State Department will take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas in November in a race that will offer stark solutions to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the economic toll it has taken on New Hampshire.

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Matt Mowers, a 31-year-old former Trump official, defeated Matt Mayberry, a 55-year-old Air Force veteran and realtor, on the Republican side in the 1st District. Mowers has praised Trump’s coronavirus response and called production of supplies in the coronavirus fight to be shifted from China to the United States. He also has promised to fight illegal immigration and support congressional term limits.

“Voters across the First District have severe buyer’s remorse with Chris Pappas, who campaigned as an independent voice and then sadly went to Washington and voted with Nancy Pelosi and her liberal agenda 100% of the time,” Mowers said. “I’m humbled at the support from Granite Staters, and pledge to offer a new vision of leadership that will deliver results for middle class families.”

Pappas, a freshman lawmaker, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

In a speech to supporters in Manchester, Pappas played up his roots in the city where his family runs a restaurant. He also highlighted his ability to work with Republicans on legislation and hold leaders in Washington, D.C., accountable — including his complaints early on that they weren’t doing enough for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. He also talked about his work on the behalf of veterans.

“I hear from Granite Staters every day who are losing their jobs, losing their healthcare, losing their businesses, and losing loved ones,” Pappas told supporters gathered at a Manchester millyard. “This is not a time for politics as usual, it’s an all hands on deck moment where we must redouble our efforts to save our workers, small businesses, and communities from financial ruin.”

Mowers and Mayberry were among five candidates running for a seat representing the district that covers the eastern part of the state, including parts of greater Manchester, the Lakes Region and the Seacoast.

Mowers was the favorite, having outraised Mayberry by about 4-1 and picked up a coveted endorsement from Trump. Mayberry responded by accusing Mowers of being a carpetbagger looking to move back to New Hampshire just to win a House seat.

Mowers said he moved back to New Hampshire last year but has been active in New Hampshire politics since 2013. Mowers worked for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie while he was governor and ran his 2016 presidential primary campaign in New Hampshire. Mowers was the executive director of the New Hampshire GOP from 2013 to 2015.

The pandemic made voting in the primary much different this year, allowing people to request absentee ballots. More than 100,000 such requests were filed for the election in New Hampshire, and at least 75,000 of them have been returned, according to the secretary of state’s office.

In the other House race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, seeking her fifth term representing the 2nd District, easily defeated Joseph Mirzoeff.

In a statement, Kuster said she would continue to fight to lower prescription drug prices, advocate on behalf of veterans and protect the environment if she is re-elected in November’s general election.

“I’m running for re-election because as we face the COVID-19 pandemic it is more important than ever that we focus on our shared goals and work together to lift all Granite State families,” she said.

Kuster will face Steve Negron in a rematch of their 2018 race. Negron beat Lynne Blankenbeker, a combat nurse and Navy Reserve captain from Concord, in the Republican primary. Negron is a former state House member who owns a defense engineering and consulting company in Nashua.

The 59-year-old Negron has called for reducing health care costs, a strong national defense and a secure border. Trump hasn’t endorsed anyone in the 2nd District but Negron supports the president.

“We now continue the fight to unseat Ann Kuster and reform dysfunctional Washington. Tonight’s win demonstrated that New Hampshire wants more from representation,” Negron said in a statement. “The hard work doesn’t stop here. We need to hit the ground running to bring New Hampshire’s voice back to Washington; defending our small state voice, law and order, and confronting the lies of the Pelosi/Kuster agenda.”

The 2nd District race encompasses a mostly rural district that stretches from New Hampshire’s border with Canada to the Massachusetts line.

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This story has been corrected to show that Kuster won the Democratic primary, not the Republican primary.