In New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, several Republican leaders had high hopes for Matt Mowers. The former State Department official came up short in the same district two years ago, but he ran a competitive race and much of the party saw his 2022 candidacy as a key part of the GOP’s midterm strategy.
At least that was the plan. Primary voters, however, this week handed the nomination to Karoline Leavitt, who won by nearly 10 points.
Part of the problem for Mowers was that he was seen as the “establishment” candidate — he made the mistake, for example, of publicly expressing confidence in New Hampshire’s system of elections — but ultimately, Leavitt did a better job of telling the Republican base what it wanted to hear. She adopted Donald Trump’s style as her own, embraced the “big lie,” and even endorsed impeaching President Joe Biden for reasons unknown.
But the 25-year-old candidate also had one other thing she could brag about to GOP voters: her most recent job. The Washington Post reported:
She attended Saint Anselm College in the state before landing a job in the Trump White House press shop. There, in her words, she “fought against the biased mainstream media, and proudly helped message President Trump’s America First agenda.” Throughout her campaign, Leavitt similarly embraced the rhetoric of hard-right Republicans and called Trump “the greatest president in the history of my life.”
Yes, before launching a congressional campaign, the young Republican was an assistant press secretary in the Trump White House — and she may now be headed for Congress.
What’s more, Leavitt is hardly the only former member of Trump’s team who’ll be on the ballot this year:
Max Miller: The former Trump aide, who has faced domestic violence allegations, won a Republican congressional primary in Ohio.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Trump’s former press secretary is the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee in Arkansas.
Ryan Zinke: Trump’s scandal-plagued former interior secretary won a Republican congressional primary in Montana.
If some of these candidates prevail in their U.S. House bids, they’ll work alongside Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas — Trump’s former White House physician.
To be sure, this list could be longer. Some other former members of the Trump administration ran this year — see Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt and Alabama’s Lindy Blanchard, for example — but fell short in their primary campaigns.
The larger point, of course, remains the same: Common sense suggests that being associated with a failed former president — twice impeached and facing multiple criminal investigations — would be a political hindrance. In 2022, Republican primary voters see it as a benefit.
As a matter of political history, this is an oddity: In the 1934 midterms, Herbert Hoover’s former White House aides didn’t launch bids for elected office.