New Hampshire congressional candidate Matt Mowers voted from three different residences in 2016, including two in New Jersey, and paid New Jersey state income tax in 2016 after spending most of the year in his home state.
A former aide to Gov. Chris Christie, Mowers is challenging Rep. Christopher Pappas in New Hampshire’s 1st district, is under fire for voting in two presidential primaries in 2016: in New Hampshire in February and in New Jersey in June. He registered to vote in a third location for the November election.
After voting in New Hampshire from 2014 to 2016, including a vote in the February 9, 2016 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, Mowers returned to his home state of New Jersey and registered to vote in Hoboken on March 22, 2016, using an address of a three-bedroom apartment on Washington Street, records show.
A New Jerseyan, Mowers voted from his parents home from 2007, when he was 18, until he registered to vote in Bordentown in South Jersey in 2011, a small town close to Trenton. He was working for Christie in the governor’s office at the time. Mowers voted in Bordentown in the 2012 primary but returned to voting from his parents residence for the 2012 general and elections in 2013.
Mowers, a rising star in New Jersey politics, was working on Christie’s 2013 re-election campaign when Christie became aware in September that the New Hampshire Republican Party was hiring a new executive director.
Christie was already planning a 2016 presidential bid and wanted Mowers to get the New Hampshire job so that he could learn the state in 2014 and then transition into managing the first-in-the-nation primary for him.
Mowers traveled to New Hampshire on October 13, 2013 for a meeting with Jennifer Horn, the GOP state chair, emails show. Horn had told Mowers that the job was between him and a New Hampshire person.
Horn notified the Christie team on October 31 that they hired Mowers and that he would start shortly after the November election in New Jersey.
Mower’s financial disclosure shows that he worked for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee from November 2013 to January 2015. He began working for the Christie-affiliated Leadership Matters for America PAC in February 2015. In June, he moved over to the Chris Christie for President campaign.
Christie finished sixth in the February 9, 2016 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, winning 7.38% of the vote and no delegates. He dropped out of the race the following day.
After taking one month off, Mowers began a $121,000-a-year job working at Mercury’s New Jersey office in April 2016. At the time, the office was headed by Michael DuHaime, Christie’s political strategist.
Immediately after returning to New Jersey, Mowers became a candidate for Alternate District Delegate to the Republican National Convention pledged to Donald Trump in New Jersey’s 8th district. His nominating petitions were notarized in two batches, on March 31 and April 2, and filed with the Secretary of State on April 3.
New Jersey has no residency requirement for party offices, including delegate, beyond eligibility to be a registered voter.
Records show that Mowers 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.
A spokesperson for Mowers told the New Jersey Globe that he gave up his sublet apartment in Hoboken because he was spending time at Trump’s New York headquarters and in key battleground states. When he was in New Jersey, he stayed at his parents home. Records show that he registered to vote in East Brunswick on August 23, 2016 and voted in the November general election using a mail-in ballot.
Because he was a New Jersey resident for at least nine months in 2016, he was obligated to pay a state income tax. His spokesperson said he had overpaid at the time.
Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University, said that “questions about the legality of his votes fell flat as soon as it became clear that it was two separate elections, and he would have met New Jersey’s requirements.”
“I’d have to think that New Hampshire voters understand better than most how the primary calendar works, and that someone who is working on presidential campaigns will be moving around,” Rasmussen said. “Of course, he runs the risk of reminding voters he’s moved in and out of the state.”
Mowers moved to Washington after the election to work at Trump for America, as part of the appointments and personnel office of the Trump/Pence transition team.
After Trump became President, Mowers was named Senior White House Advisor at the U.S. Department of State. He returned to New Hampshire in 2020 to run for Congress.
“His best bet is to not be defensive and remind GOP primary voters that he was working in and out of New Hampshire on the presidential election in that year, which is why he lived in and out of the state in that period,” Rasmussen stated. “It may be a little bit of Pete Dawkins , but the important point is that his time working in the state is what made him want to settle there, as he has.”
(Dawkins, a Heisman trophy winner at West Point and retired U.S. Army general, moved from New York City to New Jersey in 1988 to run against U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. His campaign never recovered from a gaffe when he said, “I’d blow my brains out if I had to live in a small town,” and received 45% of the vote.)
Mowers has not voted in New Jersey since 2016. Records show that he is an inactive voter – he still has not been purged from the voter rolls — and lists residences in Washington, D.C. and Guilford, New Hampshire as more recent addresses.
Rasmussen hinted that if Mowers loses in New Hampshire, he could return to New Jersey and run again.
“We always say that as far as conventional wisdom here in New Jersey, carpetbagging charges have not worked for at least a generation.”