CONCORD — The first Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., will make it official on Monday but he won’t be alone for long.
Retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc is expected to announce his candidacy at the VFW Hall in Concord Monday morning.
Meanwhile, former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien of Nashua confirmed he’ll have his own “major announcement” on July 23.
O’Brien is expected at that time to also enter the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate race.
“This race will be a great opportunity to compare proven conservatism with aspirational but untested conservatism,” O’Brien said Friday.
“Republicans know where unproven promises have gotten them in the past.”
A Laconia native, Bolduc’s storied military career includes serving as commander of special operations in Africa.
Over 32 years of service he received two awards for valor, five Bronze Star medals, 10 deployments and two Purple Hearts.
He was one of the soldiers depicted in “12 Strong,” a movie about a horseback-riding Special Forces team that fought the Taliban in Afghanistan soon after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
But Bolduc has gotten even more national attention as an advocate for helping combat soldiers dealing with brain injuries and mental health problems.
He was recently featured on an episode of “60 Minutes” as the first and only active duty service officer to admit he had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Bolduc said during that episode he was bypassed for a promotion because he had gone public. He said he was told to stop talking about it.
This recent program focused on a new therapy known as a stellate ganglion block of SGB, a shot in the neck, that Bolduc said helped “clear the fog” for him and led to wellness.
“I think there’s enough evidence out there that this is a valid therapy. And it’s something that works,” Bolduc said.
Bolduc has already attracted some prominent support as media consultant Josh McElveen has offered volunteer help.
Republican campaign operative Matt Mowers, a former staffer for Trump’s 2016 campaign and senior executive in the State Department, has also offered encouragement to Bolduc.
Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley mocked the moves and has maintained Shaheen’s record of service to the state will convince voters to grant her a third six-year term in 2020.
“The race on ‘who can hug Trump the tightest’ has begun. Yahoo! #NHPolitics #funtime,” Buckley tweeted.
Another Republican considering a Senate run is Bryant “Corky” Messner, a successful trial lawyer from Denver, Colo., who more than a year ago relocated full time to Wolfeboro.
Messner has hired Todd Cheewing, the former executive director to the Republican State Committee, as an advisor.
“We’re going to have a vigorous and competitive primary and the reason is because this Senate race against Jeanne Shaheen is winnable,” GOP State Chairman Steve Stepanek said.
Jay Lucas, a venture capitalist from Portsmouth, has also not ruled out a Senate run in 2020.
In 1998, Lucas was the GOP nominee for governor who lost to Shaheen, who that year won a second term as the state’s chief executive.
Some national Republicans have encouraged Gov. Chris Sununu to try to oust Shaheen. Sununu, a two-term chief executive, announced last month that he would run again for governor next year.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that public relations consultant Scott Spradling was associated with retired Brig. Gen. Bolduc’s upcoming campaign.