The Race For New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District Is A National Bellwether — And A Challenge For Republicans

New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, which covers the eastern end of the state, can’t make up its mind about whether to send a Republican or a Democrat to Washington.

Between 2008 and 2016 — five election cycles in a row — it rocked back and forth: electing a Democrat to Congress, then a Republican, then a Democrat, then a Republican, and then a Democrat.

“This district is one of the swingiest districts in the country,” said Terie Norelli, a Democrat and the former speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Norelli is backing Democrat Chris Pappas, who is trying to become the first incumbent in 12 years to win back-to-back races in the district. The Congressman appeared recently at a women’s health center near Portsmouth as Republicans in Washington push to put another conservative justice — Amy Coney Barrett — on the Supreme Court. Pappas said the rightward swing of the high court means that abortion rights are at stake on Nov. 3; as is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which the Trump Administration wants the high court to overturn.

“This is hanging by a thread,” Pappas said. “We’re talking about health care for tens of millions of Americans; hundreds of thousands [of people] here in New Hampshire who enjoy patient protections from the ACA. I think it’s a political attempt that only seeks [to take] away access to health care. And we shouldn’t stand for it.”

Two years ago, the focus on health care helped Democrats, including Pappas, ride a blue wave into Congress and flip control of the House. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, it remains a potent issue for Democrats. And with Election Day less than a month away, the race for this congressional district illustrates the challenge facing Republicans — and President Donald Trump.

Pappas’ opponent is Matt Mowers, who worked in the Trump Administration and has been endorsed by the president. In a district with lots of unenrolled and moderate voters, Mowers is trying to make a case that Pappas is a Washington politician who marches in lock-step with Nancy Pelosi.

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