A candidate for Congress in a New Hampshire GOP congressional primary is attacking her opponent as a “New Jersey carpetbagger” with ties to former Gov. Chris Christie.
“Matt Mowers moved to our state for political power,” said Karoline Leavitt, a former Trump White House official, in an interview on WMUR-TV. “He was a longtime political operative for Chris Christie, who is the leader of the Never Trump movement, and he came here to run for Congress.”
A St. Anselm College poll released earlier this month shows the race between Mowers and Leavitt to have tightened. Mowers leads Leavitt by four percentage points, 25%-21%, in the race to pick a Republican opponent for two-term Rep. Christopher Pappas on September 13.
Mowers, 33, is from East Brunswick and worked for Christie in the governor’s office and on his gubernatorial campaigns. Christie’s political team helped Mowers get a job as executive director of the state Republican Party in late 2013.
After Christie entered the 2016 presidential race, Mowers became his New Hampshire state director. Through no fault of Mowers, Christie’s White House hopes ended after he finished sixth in the New Hampshire primary with 7% of the vote.
That winter, Mowers returned to New Jersey, registered to vote out of a new apartment in Hoboken, took a job with a local public affairs firm, and ran in the 2016 New Jersey primary as a candidate for delegate to the Republican National Convention pledged to Donald Trump.
Mowers’ legal decision to vote in the February 2016 primary in New Hampshire and again in the New Jersey primary four months later became an issue in his latest congressional race. In the general election, he voted from a third address that year, his parents home in East Brunswick.
While the 24-year-old Leavitt worked as an assistant White House press secretary and as an aide to Rep. Elise Stefanik, Mowers also has solid ties to Trump. He left Mercury to join Donald J. Trump for President in July 2016 as the National Field Director and Battleground States Director, which put him on the road for the next four months.
Mowers then went to work for the U.S. Department of State, where he was the White House liaison. He moved back to New Hampshire to challenge Pappas in 2020 and held the House Democrat to 41%-46% win and a margin of 20,447 votes.
While Leavitt is trying to tie Mowers to Christie – the embattled former governor hosted a fundraiser for his former aide in New Jersey last year — he’s also received support from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
Still, the carpetbagger issue appears to be irresistible in a close race.
“I am proud to be the homegrown America first candidates in this race, Leavitt said. “I was born and raised in this state. My family owns businesses here. I went to our public school system. I’m in alumni, as you mentioned, of Saint Anselm College,” Leavitt said.
Mowers has raised $187,027 from New Jersey donors, less than half what he’s brought in from contributors in his adopted state. Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, have personally contributed $11,600 to Mowers.
New Jersey has exported just $11,455 to Leavitt, including $7,800 from a hydroxychloroquine salesman named Joe Pizza.
Another candidate in the primary against Mowers, former TV news anchor Gail Huff Brown, has raised $7,150 from New Jerseyans.