WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire won re-election Tuesday, NBC News projected, defeating Republican Don Bolduc and keeping a critical seat in Democratic hands.
While the race attracted less attention than some others, Hassan won her Senate seat six years ago in one of the closest races in the country, and Democrats had grown increasingly nervous in recent weeks as Bolduc seemed to gain strength in polls.
But in the end, Hassan's win wasn't a down-to-the-wire contest, as she led 54.8% to 43.5% with 64% of votes counted.
In contrast to the current hyperpartisan atmosphere, Hassan said her New Hampshire constituents don't want Republican-Democratic bickering.
"Here in New Hampshire, Granite Staters put aside partisanship and we work together every day to solve problems," Hassan told cheering supporters in Manchester.
"By following that example, we have shown what is possible when we come together to find common ground and deliver results."
Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general backed by former President Donald Trump in the waning days of the campaign, has advanced false conspiracy theories about Covid vaccines and the 2020 presidential election.
After he won the nomination, however, he waffled on 2020, saying the election hadn't been stolen.
Bolduc conceded Tuesday night and acknowledged Hassan's win.
“I am thankful for all of my supporters and everybody that stuck with me through thick and thin," he told supporters. "I love you all.”
He often feuded with fellow Republicans, including popular Gov. Chris Sununu, whom he called a “Chinese communist sympathizer.” Sununu backed a different candidate in the GOP primary, calling Bolduc a “conspiracy-theory extremist.”
Several national Republican groups abandoned Bolduc, assuming he couldn’t win — it didn’t help that he criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., — but a late surge in polling led some national groups to step in and help.
Hassan, a former governor seeking her second term in the Senate, vastly outraised Bolduc, an inexperienced candidate and self-described “political outsider.” As of Oct. 19, he had spent just over $900,000, while Hassan had spent more than $31 million, according to campaign finance reports.
Democrats actually helped the underfunded candidate win the GOP nomination when they spent more than $3 million criticizing his main opponent as a yes-man for McConnell, whom many Trump allies dislike. Democrats meddled in the primary because they thought Bolduc would be easier to defeat in the general election.