A GOP super PAC with ties to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is pulling the plug on supporting New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc, despite the most reliable polling showing the race to be a close contest.
Known as the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), the McConnell-backed super PAC announced on Friday that it would be canceling roughly $5.6 million in television ads that it had previously reserved for the final weeks of the highly contested race.
“As the cycle comes to a close, we are shifting resources to where they can be most effective to achieve our ultimate goal: winning the majority,” SLF President Steven Law told The New York Times.
SLF’s stunning withdrawal from New Hampshire comes several weeks after the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) pulled nearly $3 million in ad buys in the state, with the GOP group redirecting the funds toward states such as Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.
“We’re glad to see Republican outside forces showing up in a big way in New Hampshire, with millions in spending pledged to take down Maggie Hassan in the final stretch,” NRSC spokesman Chris Hartline told Politico when the SLF funds were still slated for the northeastern state.
When pressed during a recent interview on “Breitbart News Saturday” about groups like SLF pulling their financial support from the race, Bolduc, who has said he would not support McConnell for majority leader if he were elected to the Senate, appeared to brush off the news, saying that “it doesn’t change what [his campaign is] doing.”
“We won [the primary] because we worked harder than everybody else,” he said. “I can’t lie, we need the money … but we’re going to continue to move forward. We did it with less than $500,000 last time. We did it by working hard and not counting on anybody but Granite Staters.”
Despite SLF and the NRSC seemingly throwing in the towel on Bolduc’s campaign, recent surveys from more reliable polling sources have signaled that the race between Bolduc and incumbent Democrat Hassan is a close one. According to a poll conducted at the end of September by The Trafalgar Group, Hassan holds a slight, roughly 3-point lead over Bolduc (48.2 to 45 percent), which falls just outside the survey’s 2.9 percent margin of error. An internal survey released by the Bolduc campaign shows similar results, with Hassan only leading Bolduc by 2 points (49 to 47 percent).
During the final weeks of New Hampshire’s Republican primary, a separate McConnell-affiliated group known as the White Mountain PAC reportedly spent millions in attack ads against Bolduc to convince GOP primary voters to nominate Chuck Morse, the establishment candidate supported by McConnell. Alternatively, PACs associated with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., invested millions into the state’s GOP primary to boost Bolduc’s chances of winning the nomination, with Democrats hoping that the retired U.S. Army general would be an easier candidate to beat in the general election.
McConnell’s bid to undermine a strong, “America First” Senate candidate is not exclusive to New Hampshire, however. In Arizona, where Republican firebrand Blake Masters is locked in a highly contested race with Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly, McConnell’s SLF PAC has withdrawn virtually all financial support from the state. Last month, SLF pulled nearly $10 million worth of planned television ads that were set to help boost Masters in the waning weeks of the campaign. Like Bolduc, Masters has pledged not to support McConnell for party leader should he defeat Kelly next month.
In an attempt to elect Senate candidates who will help him maintain his hold on party leadership, McConnell has opted to divert financial resources to assist incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. While the seat is safe for Republicans heading into November, Murkowski is facing a challenge from Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who has said she will not support McConnell’s bid for party leadership and has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Despite McConnell receiving condemnation from multiple GOP groups in the state, SLF has spent more than $5 million in Alaska in an attempt to save Murkowski.
Murkowski recently made headlines after saying she will be voting for Democrat Rep. Mary Peltola after Republican candidate Sarah Palin lost to her in a special election last month due to Alaska’s use of a ranked-choice voting system.