Primary Preview: NH 2nd Congressional District

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 6:02 PM EDT
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LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) - New Hampshire’s primary election is just one week away and that includes the race for the state’s 2nd Congressional District, where Democrat Rep. Annie Kuster is seeking re-election.

Kuster is running unopposed in the Democratic primary but on the GOP side, seven candidates are vying to shape the future of the party in the Granite State.

“What is surprising is really how quiet it has really been. I live in district two and I have heard more about what’s going on in district one than here in district two,” said John Lappie, a political science professor at Plymouth State University.

Although the primary is on September 13th, a recent poll by St. Anselm College found most voters haven’t made up their minds. According to the poll, the two GOP front runners are businessman Robert Burns and Keene Mayor George Hansel. “You know about half of primary voters don’t really know enough about Burns or Hansel to even have an opinion on them,” Lappie said.

But the election is shaping up to give voters a clear choice. Hansel has positioned himself as a moderate, earning the backing of Governor Chris Sununu, which he promotes on social media and his website. Meanwhile, Burns is vocal about his support for former president Donald Trump, which is also a front and center part of his campaign branding.

“He is where the party base is right now in terms of closely aligning with Trump, being pro-life. We are a pretty pro-choice state but to the extent that there are pro-lifers, it is in the GOP. Embracing of election conspiracy theories, etc... And so Burns is where the party is, that puts him in a better position than Hansel to win the primary, even though Hansel is probably a stronger general election candidate,” Lappie said.

The experts say Kuster will have the advantage in November’s general election when it comes to name recognition and fundraising. Like other GOP contests around the country, The Democrats Serve super-PAC has bought ad time highlighting Burns’ campaign. “It speaks to the fact that the Democrats believe their best chance for victory is for the Republicans to nominate people with relatively extreme views who are going to have a hard time winning the general election,” Lappie said.

Polling third for the Republicans is Lily Tang Williams, an immigrant from China who says she’s an American by choice. Undecided voters in New Hampshire can vote in either party’s primary.