CONCORD, New Hampshire — Democrats Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas both won reelection to Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st and 2nd Districts, defeating two pro-Trump Republicans.
Pappas defeated Karoline Leavitt, who worked in the White House press office under former President Donald Trump, and Kuster beat Robert Burns, who runs a pharmaceutical quality control business.
Leavitt, 25, would have been the youngest women elected to Congress if she had won in the competitive 1st District that has flipped multiple times in recent years. She campaigned to strengthen parental rights in schools and increase domestic energy production.
Pappas, 42, helped run his family’s restaurant in Manchester and was part of a state council that approves spending contracts. He made history in 2018 by becoming the state’s first openly gay member of Congress.
Both Democrats championed their support of the Inflation Reduction Act, which requires Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug companies. The legislation included Kuster’s bill to eliminate out-of-pocket vaccine costs for seniors and Medicare beneficiaries.
In his campaign, Burns supported bringing more manufacturing, including pharmaceuticals, back to the United States. He also wanted to secure the country’s southern border with Mexico by building a wall and using drones, cameras and other technology in areas that are not as accessible for border patrol agents. He ran for the seat once before in 2018, but lost in that primary to Steve Negron, who was later defeated by Kuster.
Kuster thanked her opponent and New Hampshire voters in a statement, saying, “I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support.”
The sprawling, mostly rural 2nd District stretches from New Hampshire’s border with Canada to the Massachusetts line. It includes the cities of Nashua and Concord.
“I certainly wish tonight’s results came in a little bit differently,” Leavitt said in a concession speech in front of supporters. “I’m nevertheless still humbled by the outpouring of support that we received across every single city and town and more.”
In his victory speech to campaign supporters Tuesday night, Pappas said “We know this campaign was a tough fight. But it was always about the people of New Hampshire and putting them first.”
Pappas said he respected Leavitt’s campaign, adding, “we should all be grateful for those who step up to run for office.”
Before Pappas won the open seat in 2018, the 1st District switched between the parties five times in seven elections.
In his campaign, Pappas emphasized how he helped secure a record amount of federal funding for the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program. He also focused on bills to help veterans and increase penalties against trafficking fentanyl.
Leavitt said she believed the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Pappas said she “continues to double-down on the big lie.” Trump called her “fantastic” in his endorsement.
Leavitt and Burns contended that the Inflation Reduction Act, will actually increase inflation at a time when families are struggling.
Both Burns and Leavitt, who campaigned on a pro-Trump “America First” platform, defeated candidates favored to win in their primary races.
Leavitt beat Matt Mowers, who won the nomination in 2020 and was endorsed at the time by Trump, but lost in the general election to Pappas. Burns defeated George Hansel, the mayor of Keene and a moderate who was endorsed by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.
Leavitt said she believed the 2020 election was stolen from Trump; Burns said Joe Biden had enough votes to win the presidency. Trump recently endorsed both of them.
Kuster also highlighted her bill that was part of the Inflation Reduction Act which makes vaccines available to seniors for free. It also allows Medicaid to negotiate drug prices, but Leavitt and Burns argued those negotiations don’t go into effect until 2026.
Democrats kept abortion rights at the forefront of the campaigns. Pappas and Kuster said they would support the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the right to access abortion care throughout the nation in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Leavitt and Burns both describe themselves as pro-life. Leavitt said she supports having state legislatures make decisions on abortion regulations and would oppose a federal abortion ban. Burns initially said he supports a federal “heartbeat bill” banning abortions, with an exception if the mother’s life is at risk. He now says he’d support a ban at 12 or 15 weeks.
Story by Kathy McCormack.