FIRST ON FOX – Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is weighing into an increasingly crowded race for the 2022 Republican nomination in New Hampshire‘s 1st Congressional District, one of the nation’s premier congressional battlegrounds.
Cruz is backing GOP candidate Karoline Leavitt, a 24-year old veteran of President Trump‘s White House in an endorsement shared first with Fox News on Wednesday.
The influential conservative lawmaker charged in a statement that “Washington D.C. is broken. There is a crisis at the border and Democrats are spending trillions of dollars we don’t have for their liberal wish list. It’s time we send a new generation of leaders to Washington D.C.”
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“That’s why I am supporting Karoline Leavitt for Congress,” Cruz said. “Karoline is a fighter who shares our core values, will bring new leadership to D.C. and help conservatives stand up to the Swamp. I am proud to endorse Karoline, and I ask my fellow conservatives in New Hampshire to join me in supporting her campaign for congress.”
Karoline Leavitt, who worked in White House during President Trump’s administration, is running for the Republican nomination in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District
Leavitt, who would be the minimum age of 25 to serve in the House of Representatives if she takes office in January 2023, said she’s “truly honored and excited to be endorsed by one of the most effective fighters for conservative values in Washington — Senator Ted Cruz.”
If elected, Leavitt added that “I look forward to working with Senator Cruz on Capitol Hill to advance legislation that limits the federal government, protects our Second Amendment, and preserves our liberties.”
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Leavitt, a New Hampshire native who briefly worked for GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York after the end of the Trump administration, is one of six Republicans vying for the party’s nomination in the race for the seat held by two-term Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, whom the National Republican Congressional Committee views as vulnerable. The GOP needs a net gain of just five seats in next year’s midterms to win back the House majority.
The GOP field includes Matt Mowers, a former New Hampshire GOP executive director who worked on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and served in the State Department during the Trump administration. Mowers lost to Pappas by five points last November. Also in the race is Gail Huff Brown, a longtime TV news reporter who announced her candidacy on Tuesday. Huff Brown is the wife of former Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who served as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand during the Trump administration.
The GOP primary in New Hampshire’s 1st District, like many GOP showdowns across the country, has so far been a race to the right and a contest to showcase support and loyalty to the former president.
Cruz, who was first elected to the Senate in 2012, made plenty of friends in New Hampshire four years later during his White House run. The senator’s endorsement of Leavitt, who hopes to become the first female Republican to represent the Granite State in the House, comes as political pundits view the runner-up to Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential nomination race as a potential White House hopeful in 2024.
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Cruz sparked speculation in August by traveling to Iowa – the state whose caucuses for half a century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar, to headline a fundraiser for first-term Rep. Ashley Hinson, a rising star in the GOP who narrowly defeated a Democratic incumbent last November and who could face a challenging reelection next year.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Iowa headlines a fundraising event for GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson of Iowa in Central City, Iowa, on Aug. 28, 2021.
(Ashley Hinson campaign)
The senator also headlined a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Nicole Hasso, who’s running to challenge Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. The two-term lawmaker and only Democrat in Iowa’s congressional delegation is being heavily targeted by the GOP in next year’s midterms.
While he’s yet to make a trip this year to New Hampshire, which for a century has held the first presidential primary in the White House race, Cruz’s endorsement of Leavitt will raise eyebrows.
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.