Senate US Afghanistan

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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KEENE, N.H. — The junior senator from Arkansas was in Keene Friday night, helping to raise money for the Cheshire County Republican Committee and urging Granite Staters to vote Republican in 2022.

“The Senate race is very important because it is 50-50,” Sen. Tom Cotton told the media after a dinner at the Keene Country Club. “Maggie Hassan is one of the most vulnerable Democrats in America.”

Cotton also said it appears the coronavirus is becoming endemic, like the flu and the cold, and that “prudent precautions,” not government mandates, are what is necessary to get the country moving forward again.

“The good news is that the vaccine by and large can mitigate the worse outcomes, hospitalization and death,” he said. “I encourage all of your readers to talk to their doctors ... and make a decision that is right for them.”

Cotton noted that there are also two competitive races for House seats in New Hampshire, too.

If Republicans take those two seats, he said, Republicans will go “a long way to winning back the majority.”

Cotton said he was not in New Hampshire to test the waters for the 2024 presidential election.

“There are a handful of states like New Hampshire, like Nevada and Iowa and Wisconsin ... places where the elections are going to be decided next year and I’ve already been to all those states and I expect to back again next year campaigning for Republican majorities in Congress.”

In early November, Gov. Chris Sununu announced he would not be running against Hassan for the Senate. Instead, Sununu will be seeking a fourth term as governor of New Hampshire.

And while former Sen. Kelly Ayotte was at the Keene dinner, she did not mention whether she was throwing her hat in to the ring. Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate to take on Hassan, was scheduled to appear in Keene on Friday but had to cancel.

Dennis Lamare, of Lee, who ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014, announced he is running to be the Republican candidate in the Senate race.

“Right now we are in a crisis situation,” Lamare said. “With the president and the Congress putting us in dire straits with inflation, immigrants coming across the border ... a whole bunch of things that are turning us into a socialist agenda.

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“I just want to say to the president, let’s go Brandon ... out the door,” Lamare continued, using a code for a derogatory phrase against President Joe Biden that received applause and tapping with forks of water glasses.

Ed LaPlante, a mechanic who said “I’m new at this,” also announced he was going to run against Hassan.

“Rather than sit down on the couch and say this is wrong and that is wrong, I like to try to fix it,” he said. “When asked what I could bring to the table, the truth, that’s what I can do.”

Don Bolduc and Tejasinha Sivalingam have also announced they would like to vie for Hassan’s seat.

Gail Huff Brown was also in attendance, talking to the crowd about why she wants to run against Rep. Chris Pappas in Congressional District 1.

Brown is the wife of Scott Brown, who served a three-year term as a senator from Massachusetts after Sen. Edward Kennedy died. Scott Brown ran for a full six-year term in the Senate in 2012 but lost to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In 2014, the Browns changed their residence to New Hampshire, where Scott Brown ran on the Republican ticket for Senate, eventually losing to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“When I was 8 years old,” said Gail Huff Brown, “I was watching Walter Cronkite on TV with my Uncle Larry and my Grandpa Huff. I said that’s what I’m going to do when I grow up. I want to go around and talk to people and tell their stories and help them. Both of them said ‘You can’t do that. You’re a girl.’ At the time, they were right. As a girl, I couldn’t do that because in the 1960s, that didn’t happen. A lot has changed since then. That’s the energy I want to bring to Washington.”

Also running in the GOP primary in Congressional District 1 are Matt Mowers, Karoline Leavitt, Tim Baxter, Julian Acciard and Gilead Towne.

Robert Burns, of Manchester, the owner of a pharmaceutical quality control equipment business, announced he is running against Rep. Annie Kuster in N.H. Congressional District 2. Burns served as the chairman of the Donald Trump’s National Youth Coalition in the runup to the 2016 election. He ran for the seat in 2018.

Burns spent most of his time expressing his concern about China.

“The greatest existential threat to the United States right now, it’s not COVID, it’s not the environment, it’s not Islamic terrorism,” he said. “But I will tell you that China is a problem in all three of those areas.”

Other candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring for Congressional District 2 include Jeff Cozzens, Jeffrey Greeson, Dean Poirier and Jason Riddle.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.