MANCHESTER, N.H. — Matt Mowers says he’s sure Republicans will win control of the U.S. House in next year’s midterm election – and he wants to be part of that new majority to help reverse what he calls a “total failure” by President Joe Biden and the Democrats.The former Trump administration State Department official told WMUR in an exclusive interview that he will make official his second candidacy for the 1st Congressional District seat in a filing with the Federal Election Commission.
Mowers said that on Sept. 8, he plans to be joined by supporters for a traditional campaign kickoff event at Murphy’s Taproom in Manchester.
Mowers’ candidacy comes as no surprise. He began hinting that he would make another run for the seat almost immediately after he lost his 2020 bid to Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas by a margin of 51.3 percent to 46.2 percent.
But Mowers said that a repeat run actually was not always certainty because of family considerations – the pregnancy of his wife, Cassie. Now that they are the parents of a healthy newborn son, Mowers said he is prepared to move ahead with a campaign.
He said he’s ready for a rematch against Pappas but understands it’s possible that Pappas won’t seek reelection and may instead run for another office — such as governor.
“My candidacy is not just about Chris Pappas,” Mowers said. “It’s really about the total failure of Washington, collectively, to address the problems of everyday Americans, to be able to help small business owners, to give law enforcement the tools to keep our communities safe, to stem the tide of illegal immigration and the humanitarian crisis that’s been created on the southern border.”
Citing the crisis in Afghanistan, he said, “What we’ve seen over the past few weeks has just been an absolute, unmitigated disaster, and the shame of it is, it has all been preventable. When you have weak leadership, whether it’s in the White House or in Congress, this is how our adversaries respond.
“Whether my opponent is Chris Pappas, who’s been there every step of the way, or another candidate, who I’d imagine would be someone who’s also all in on the agenda that’s let us down, this is a campaign against the mindset in D.C. right now.”
Pappas filed his candidacy for a third term in November. He told WMUR political director Adam Sexton in an interview that aired Sunday on “CloseUP” that even if the GOP legislative majority at the New Hampshire State House redraws the 1st Congressional District to make it more favorable to Republicans, he currently does not expect to be dissuaded his intention to run again for the House.
“My commitment is really to the people I’m serving right now in my current capacity,” Pappas said. “And I think there will be time for politics and ramping up campaigns at a later date.”
But Pappas added: “I’ll make any decision on next steps not based on what happens in Concord, New Hampshire, but on how I can work with and deliver for the people of New Hampshire.”
WMUR first reported a month ago that Mowers had made the decision to become a candidate and that former Donald Trump campaign manager and current senior adviser to the former president Corey Lewandowski will have an active role in Mowers’ campaign.
Mowers received Trump’s endorsement nearly two months ahead of his landslide Republican congressional primary victory in September 2020 – and he said in the interview this weekend would “welcome” Trump’s endorsement again.
Mowers said he has “concerns, as many people do, with the way the 2020 (presidential) election was administered around the country. You saw some election officials who were – against their constitution, against their legislatures – single-handedly changing rules and guidelines and laws because of COVID.
“But based upon on what I see and votes that were cast, the guy who got the most votes is sitting in the White House.”
Mowers is the fifth Republican candidate to enter the 1st District race. At age 32, he joins a young, conservative, pro-Trump field that also includes of Karoline Leavitt, 24, of Hampton; Tim Baxter, 23, of Seabrook; Julian Acciard, 33, of Derry, and Gilead Towne, 32, of Salem. All, except Mowers and Baxter, who is a state representative, are making their first runs for elective office.
Mowers was labeled a “carpetbagger” in his 2020 race by GOP primary foe Matt Mayberry and then by Democrats. He’s expected to face the same charge again – and he said it’s wrong.
He said that with the exception of his service for two years at the State Department, he has been a resident of New Hampshire since he arrived in the state in 2013 as the executive director of the NHGOP and then as state director of the presidential campaign of his former boss, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Mowers, a New Jersey native, said he resided in Bedford until a few months ago, when he and his wife purchased a home in Gilford.
As an official candidate, he will now begin fundraising for his 2022 campaign. Mowers raised and spent about $1.7 million during his 2020 campaign, while Pappas raised and spent more than $3 million.
“Seeing what’s going on in Washington, D.C. is what propelled me to do this again,” Mowers said. “We came very close last time, and I think a lot of the things that I talked about on the campaign trail last year – whether it was standing with law enforcement to allow our communities to be safe, making sure that we’re doing things the New Hampshire way by keeping taxes low and spending in check – all these things were the total opposite of what’s been going on in D.C. throughout the year.
“We need new leadership in Washington,” said Mowers. “We need people who actually understand what it’s like to be part of the middle class because they grew up in it. Someone who actually understands what it means to work for a living.”
Mowers said that while at the State Department, he involved in the development of “a new strategy to be able to defeat ISIS. Folks forget, but when we came in in 2017, ISIS was running rampant throughout the Mideast.”
While Biden is facing scrutiny from some lawmakers in his own party for his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, Mowers said that for the most part, “You are not seeing an ounce of accountability. Nancy Pelosi has refused to ask any questions. Chris Pappas won’t do anything that Nancy Pelosi does not allow him to do.”
Pappas has voiced disagreement with Biden’s hard-and-fast Tuesday deadline to complete the withdrawal of U.S. troops, but Mowers said the congressman’s protests are too little too late.
“Where has Chris Pappas been on trying to redirect America’s foreign policy?” he said. “Anyone could see in the middle of July, when Joe Biden was abandoning Bagram Air Base, that this was going to become a disaster zone.
“When the time gets tough and the spotlights are on, he’s beginning to try to change his tune, but where the heck has he been?”
Instead, Mowers said, Democrats, including Pappas, “have been focused on trying to ram through a multi-million-dollar socialist spending deal that tries to re-engineer America.”
Mowers also charged the congressional Democrats, including Pappas, are “unwilling to hold China accountable for covering up the outbreak of COVID-19.”
(Update:) Reacting to Mowers’ comments and filing, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson James Singer released a statement:
“Last November, voters in New Hampshire rejected shadow lobbyist Matt Mowers for being the out-of-touch and out-of-state swamp creature that he is — and they will do so again. Mowers joins a pro-Trump, far-right GOP primary more focused on poor impersonations of Donald Trump than providing any real solutions for Granite State families.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley said:
“Big Pharma shadow lobbyist and failed 2020 candidate Matt Mowers is once again trying to use New Hampshire to advance his own political career. The facts remain the same: He’s a far-right Trump acolyte who does the bidding of corrupt politicians and big pharmaceutical companies at the expense of Granite Staters.
“How can New Hampshire voters trust that this time around Mowers will put their needs ahead of dark money special interests and his mystery lobbying clients? They can’t, because he won’t. That’s why he is being seriously challenged for the Republican nomination because even they know he is not right for New Hampshire.”
Mowers: ‘We’re going to take the majority….’
Mowers said he will hold his own party accountable if elected.
“We’re going to take the majority next year,” he said, “and I just hope that the Republican leadership actually follows through on what they say they are going to do … whether that’s on national security or whether it’s on spending – those are things that we have to be prepared to keep our commitments on.”
Democrats currently hold a 220-212 majority.
Mowers said veterans’ services, particularly in the area of mental health, would be a top constituent priority for him.
“I’m dedicated to making sure they have the health care they need,” he said, noting that he has an uncle who served in Vietnam and requires weekly care at the Manchester VA Medical Center.
“I think you’re going to see additional challenges for veterans because of everything going on in Afghanistan, and that ties in very closely with our challenges with the drug addiction crisis, which spans both veterans and non-veterans.”
Mowers criticized the For the People elections and campaign finance reform bill, passed along party lines by the House in March and strongly supported by Pappas.
“It’s another example of where Nancy Pelosi and Chris Pappas show that they don’t trust the American people and they don’t trust state and local officials,” he said.
“It’s another example of where they want to make all the decisions in Washington, D.C. because Nancy Pelosi and Chris Pappas and Joe Biden trust bureaucrats in D.C. to run our elections, to run our health care, to make education decisions — and where that’s gotten us is an absolutely abysmal record.
“They trust Washington. I trust New Hampshire.”