‘Corky’ Messner wins GOP Senate primary to challenge Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen

FILE – In this Friday, May, 3, 2019, file photo, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, speaks at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Shaheen is the incumbent Democrat candidate for Senate in the Sept. 8, 2020, New Hampshire primary election. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Bryant “Corky” Messner won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, defeating a fellow veteran and setting up a bid to deny U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen a third term.

Messner, who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, defeated Retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc and longshot candidates Andy Martin and Gerard Beloin in the GOP primary.

“We’re not going to celebrate, we’re going to unify,” he told supporters at a gathering organized by the Trump campaign. “I’m not celebrating anything, I’m going to work, because we have a big mission ahead of us.”

The 63-year-old Army veteran and attorney cast himself as a political outsider, saying he gained leadership experience in the military and private sector after founding a Denver law firm that has expanded to eight other cities. Bolduc, his main opponent, tried to use that outsider label against him, contrasting his deep roots to New Hampshire with Messner’s relatively recent arrival from Colorado.

After owning a vacation home in Wolfeboro for many years, Messner only made it his permanent residence about two years ago. But he said voters rarely brought that up to him, and that his background and ideas won them over.

Messner poured nearly $3.8 million of his own money into his campaign, making up nearly 90% of the total he raised as of Aug. 19. He had $2.5 million on hand, compared to Shaheen, who had raised $15.6 million by that date and had $7.2 million left. Both are likely to rake in substantial sums raised nationally before the general election, however.

“They better not underestimate me,” Messner said. “We are coming for Jeanne Shaheen.”

Shaheen, 73, the first woman in U.S. history to serve as both governor and U.S. senator, easily defeated two longshot challengers in her primary, former state Rep. Tom Alciere and retired dentist Paul Krautmann. She has touted her record of working across party lines to make a difference for New Hampshire families, on issues including veterans’ access to health care and helping small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

“When it comes to making a difference for New Hampshire, she gets the job done, and her record stands in sharp contrast to Corky Messner, a Colorado transplant who moved here to try to buy himself a Senate seat, and is promising policies that will hurt Granite Staters,” said her campaign manager, Harrell Kirstein.

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