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Karoline Leavitt and Matt Mowers
New Hampshire Republican 1st Congressional District candidates Karoline Leavitt and Matt Mowers during a debate in Henniker, N.H. on Thursday.Mary Schwalm

GOP leadership split over New Hampshire House primary

McCarthy, Scalise and Stefanik are backing different candidates in New Hampshire’s 1st District. 

By and

Republicans are eying a swing district in New Hampshire as a top pickup opportunity, but party leaders are divided over their preferred nominee. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise have backed Matt Mowers, a former State Department official for former President Donald Trump, in the 1st District primary. But GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik has endorsed Karoline Leavitt, who previously worked for Stefanik and for the Trump administration. 

Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with McCarthy has spent $1.9 million in the district through next week’s primary, launching ads boosting Mowers and attacking Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, per AdImpact. Mowers lost to Pappas by 5 percentage points in 2020. 

Mowers has also had some outside help from Defending Main Street, the super PAC tied to Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of more moderate GOP lawmakers. The group recently launched an ad painting Leavitt, who is 25 years-old, as “woke, immature and irresponsible.” 

Despite being outspent on the airwaves, Leavitt has made it a close race with Mowers. A recent University of New Hampshire poll found that Mowers and Leavitt lead the Republican field, with Mowers leading Leavitt by just two points. 

The other top GOP fundraisers in the race include former local news reporter Gail Huff Brown, who is married to former Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown, and state Rep. Tim Baxter.

Whoever wins the GOP primary will face a hotly contested race against Pappas, who was first elected in 2018. The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter rates this race a Toss Up.