Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, easily won primary races in New Hampshire on Tuesday, reinforcing the state’s status as a battleground eight weeks ahead of the general election, when the top two down-ballot races will now feature popular incumbents, one from each party.
The Associated Press called the races at 8 p.m., after polls closed an hour earlier.
President Trump visited New Hampshire the day after accepting his renomination last month, and his campaign has identified the state as a possible pickup opportunity after Mr. Trump lost it in 2016 by fewer than 3,000 votes, or less than one percentage point.
Mr. Sununu, whose favorability has been lifted all year by his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and Ms. Shaheen, a former governor and two-term senator, both faced nominal opponents in their own parties.
Most of the campaign-season intrigue centered on the contests to select their November challengers: the Democratic governor’s primary, featuring a candidate endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders, and the Republican Senate primary, in which Mr. Trump made an endorsement.
Corky Messner, the Trump-endorsed Senate candidate, held off a rival in the Republican primary, Don Bolduc, who had blasted Democrats as “a bunch of liberal, socialist pansies,” a remark criticized as being homophobic.
As in other states’ primaries since the coronavirus outbreak, the election was marked by a huge spike in absentee ballots: More than 75,000 absentee ballots had been returned as of Monday, according to the New Hampshire secretary of state, an eightfold increase over the 2016 primary.
In-person voters were asked to wear masks, and while almost everyone did, there were some who refused. Election officials at some polling places accommodated maskless voters in outdoor tents that were then disinfected.
Mr. Messner, a wealthy lawyer who built his law career in Denver and did not register to vote in New Hampshire until 2018, fended off charges of carpetbagging during the primary. He said he had bought a second home in the state a dozen years ago. He may face a similar attack in the general election. In Ms. Shaheen’s 2014 re-election, she used a carpetbagging claim against former Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
Mr. Messner, for his part, accused Ms. Shaheen during a Republican forum last month of having grown wealthy and out of touch in Washington. “She comes back to New Hampshire and tries to pretend she’s a moderate; she’s not a moderate,’’ he said.
In July, The Washington Post reported that a foundation Mr. Messner started to provide scholarships to underprivileged high school students had awarded just one scholarship in 10 years.
In a Granite State Poll last week, Ms. Shaheen held nearly a 20-point lead over Mr. Messner.
In the Democratic primary for governor, Dan Feltes, the State Senate majority leader, was in a tight race with Andru Volinsky, a lawyer and education activist who was endorsed by Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator. The support of Mr. Sanders, who won New Hampshire’s presidential primary in February, helped rally progressive voters in a contest that was little noticed compared with other face-offs this year between the Democratic left wing and the party establishment.
Sept. 9, 2020, 10:02 a.m. ET
Sept. 9, 2020, 8:51 a.m. ET