Republicans in New Hampshire have some advice for Corey Lewandowski: stay away from the Senate.
Lewandowski, a bombastic figure who served as President Trump’s first campaign manager during the 2016 election, is being pressured by several people in the Trump administration to challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and is expected to talk directly with the president in the coming days, two sources directly familiar with the upcoming discussions told The Daily Beast. Lewandowski recently said he’s seriously considering the idea.
But Granite State GOPers were quick to offer words of caution to Lewandowski: if you run, you’re directly contributing to Shaheen’s re-election effort. “It makes me extremely nervous,” one senior Republican advisor in the state said. “He is as much of a shadow of the president as you can find. That will hurt us down ballot.”
A second Republican strategist in the state put it bluntly: “It would certainly give more ammunition to Jeanne Shaheen.”
Multiple Republicans said that two-term Democratic senator is in a strong position heading into re-election for a third six-year Senate term. The race is an uphill battle, they said, with several candidates having already announced their bids to take on the popular incumbent, including Donald Bolduc, a retired general, Bill O’Brien, a former state House speaker, and Bryant Messner, an attorney. While technically remaining neutral, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has praised Bolduc and O’Brien is well regarded in conservative circles.
Add Lewandowski, a divisive figure straight from Trump-world, into the mix and it would upend the nature of the race, shifting the national spotlight and coffers to Shaheen, Republicans warned.
“I think his strongest supporter is the person who he looks at in the mirror,” former New Hampshire Attorney General Tom Rath said.
“My guess is he wouldn’t be the frontrunner,” he added of Windham resident, who spends much of his time outside of the state.
One strategist warned of a potential Scott Brown scenario playing out in the height of 2020. In 2014, Brown, a former senator from Massachusetts, challenged Shaheen’s Senate seat without having much of a presence in the state. In that matchup, his inability to connect with voters on the ground contributed to his carpetbagger label and ultimate defeat. Brown had moved to New Hampshire only after being beaten by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for the Senate seat.
“She would run the same playbook against [Lewandowski],” the source said.
Lewandowski also faces more recent parallels to another cautionary tale. The decision by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who formed a commission investigating voter fraud which yielded no evidence, to launch a Senate bid was met with criticism from Republicans in his own party, many of whom argued he could put a Republican held seat on shaky ground.
But that all hinges on Lewandowski ultimately deciding to do it, which several sources said they were skeptical would happen.
“There just isn’t room for him,” the second GOP state strategist said. “He knows more than anyone this is something that should have been floated six months ago.”
Still, a source with knowledge of Lewandowski’s thinking said the Senate race is wide open and pointed to Trump’s high approval rating among Republicans in New Hampshire. Getting the base reenergized there after a narrow defeat in 2016 is a top priority, the source said. The latest University of New Hampshire poll placed Trump’s approval rating among Republicans at 86 percent.
“He will get financial backing,” the source said. “He won’t have to worry about raising money.”
Betsy Woodruff contributed to this report.