An unfortunate number of Republican Senate candidates have dramatically changed direction recently on their party’s Big Lie. In Arizona, for example, Blake Masters was perfectly comfortable during his primary candidacy promoting discredited nonsense about Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat, but once the general election phase began, the first-time candidate quietly edited his website. Washington’s Tiffany Smiley did the same thing.
In Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz openly flirted with election denialism — until the controversial physician decided he’d be better off saying that he would’ve voted to certify President Joe Biden’s victory.
But as notable as these GOP candidates are, New Hampshire’s Don Bolduc stands out as a special case. The New York Times reported this week:
All through his primary, Don Bolduc, a far-right Senate candidate in New Hampshire, said the 2020 election was stolen. A day after his victory was called, he reversed course. But eight days after that? He indicated on a podcast that he had not completely turned his back on the stolen-election movement, conveying that he found it unclear why his election-denial message had not been resonating with voters in the battleground state.
Let’s take a minute to review how we arrived at this point, because Bolduc is trying to pull off a move we rarely see.
The New Hampshire Republican, as much as any Senate candidate in the nation, has spent more than a year telling anyone who’d listen about his enthusiastic embrace of Trump’s Big Lie. In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Bolduc not only insisted there was systemic fraud — there was not, in reality, systemic fraud — he bragged about his willingness to reject certifying the 2024 results if elected.
As recently as last month, he participated in a televised debate and stuck to his ridiculous position that Trump won. “I’m not switching horses, baby,” the candidate said. “This is it.”
Last week, Bolduc switched horses. Despite his record, the Republican announced that he’d done some “research” and discovered that the 2020 race “was not stolen” after all.
It was, to be sure, among the most brazen flip-flops in recent memory. But what’s amazing about this story is watching Bolduc try to execute a flip-flop-flip, which is tough to pull off.
On Thursday, Sept. 22, the Senate hopeful grudgingly conceded that Biden’s victory was legitimate, contradicting everything he’d previously said on the subject. Just one day later, the Republican appeared on a podcast aligned with the QAnon delusion and suggested the reversal wasn’t altogether sincere.
“The narrative that the election was stolen, it does not fly up here in New Hampshire for whatever reason,” Bolduc said. “What does fly is that there was significant fraud, and it needs to be fixed.”
First, conspiratorial lies about election “does not” fly in New Hampshire because enough voters in the state — which Biden won by seven points — know the truth.
Second, in reality, there wasn’t “significant” fraud in the election.
And third, if Bolduc was serious about the “research” he did, when he discovered that the 2020 race “was not stolen,” he probably wouldn’t have gone to a QAnon podcast the next day to talk about how best to peddle election conspiracy theories in his home state.