CONCORD — Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, has confirmed that later this month he’ll officially launch a Republican primary bid for the U.S. Senate in hopes of unseating Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan.

Morse, 61, signaled he was likely to enter the race last week by hiring Dave Carney, a prominent national campaign consultant and former aide to ex-New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu.

Later this week, Morse will file paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission that will permit him to raise money for this race.

Morse said he was thinking about running for governor in 2022, believing that Gov. Chris Sununu would get into the Senate race.

Once Sununu decided to instead seek a fourth term as governor, Morse said many Republicans approached him about a Senate campaign.

“This is clearly something that I was interested in looking at once Governor Sununu made his decision,” Morse said during a recent interview. “Clearly I think I’ve got the skill set for the job.”

Timed to drop his name first

A campaign kickoff event is in the works for the end of January at the Freshwater Farms landscaping business Morse owns in Atkinson.

Morse has declined to speak in detail about his plans. The timing of this becoming public appears aimed at blocking Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith from getting too much early traction on his own candidacy.

A month ago, Smith said he was “seriously exploring” a GOP Senate primary bid and that a final announcement could come later this week.

Retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who ran and lost a U.S. Senate GOP primary to Corky Messner in 2020, has for months been running for this seat as well.

Other Republicans who have said they are considering Senate campaigns include 2010 Senate hopeful and New Castle investor Bill Binnie and former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta.

Morse is currently serving his eighth term in the state Senate and has earned a reputation for being an expert on the state budget.

Even while running the Senate, Morse has remained on the Senate Finance Committee and continued to play a major role in shaping the state’s fiscal policy.

A proven fundraiser, Morse raised more money during the first six months of 2021 than any elected official including Gov. Sununu.

Most of that money in his state Senate campaign account, however, cannot be used for a federal office run.

Carney has said that since Sununu’s announcement, Morse has reached out and gotten commitments from that donor base.

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said Morse is a fiscal and social conservative who will discover it’s much harder running statewide than in his safe, Republican-leaning Senate district.

“With Chuck Morse jumping in the Senate race, New Hampshire Republicans are going to spend the next eight months embroiled in a race to the far right that will seriously damage whoever emerges as their nominee,” Buckley said in a statement he posted on social media.

Along with serving in the state Senate, Morse also was elected to two terms in the House of Representatives representing his hometown.