Trump’s fat thumb: Meddling in NH primaries may backfire

The Trump administration putting its fat thumb on the scales in our congressional primary contests is both unfair and unwise. It is not, however, unexpected. If the state Republican Party ignores its own rules and in other respects goes along with this nonsense, it will damage the party down the road.

Why even bother conducting a primary in which candidates are expected to actually compete for voter approval? A primary involving a popular incumbent, it is sometimes argued, saps energy and resources that might be better used for a general election battle. But it can also expose flaws that conventional wisdom sometimes misses.

A primary with no incumbent ought to be a wide-open contest in which each candidate makes his or her pitch to voters and, in joint forums, is measured against other contenders.

Face-to-face campaigning has been curtailed by the coronavirus, leaving candidates to spend their resources on various forms of advertising. Trump money and resources can give an anointed candidate a huge advantage and also discourage the non-chosen.

But New Hampshire voters resent unfair fights and often like underdogs. Two such candidates — retired combat veteran Donald Bolduc in the U.S. Senate race and fellow veteran and longtime party leader Matt Mayberry in the first district House — don’t seem cowed by the odds stacked against them. They may work all the harder. Voters should watch them and make their own decisions.

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