CONCORD, N.H. — A former U.S. Army Ranger and lawyer who paid for billboards welcoming President Donald Trump to New Hampshire last month has become the latest Republican vying to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Bryant "Corky" Messner, of Wolfeboro, announced his campaign in an online video Wednesday, joining retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc and former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O'Brien in the race to deny Shaheen a third term.
"I'm running for the U.S. Senate to help President Trump fight the liberals and the socialists who are trying to kill the American Dream. They're trying to take away our liberty and economic freedom. Their failed ideas are regressive, not progressive," Messner said. "All we get is double talk. Career politicians hide in the fog of Washington, D.C., doing nothing, playing political games. Simply put, they are the foot soldiers of socialism."
Messner is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After his military service, he founded the law firm Messner Reeves LLP, which employs more than 100 lawyers in nine cities.
"Over half our people are women," he said. "That's not political correctness. We simply hire the best. People with grit."
The firm's website lists 46 partners, of which 17 are women.
Shaheen, the first woman to be elected governor of New Hampshire, lost her first run for the U.S. Senate in 2002 to Republican John E. Sununu but defeated him in 2008. The first woman in the country to serve as both governor and U.S. senator, Shaheen defeated former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown in 2014.
Messner has owned a home in Wolfeboro for about a dozen years but didn't move to the state permanently until about two years ago, according to WMUR-TV. He describes himself as a political outsider and strong conservative who will support Trump's policies, and he showed that support last month with billboards near the president's rally in Manchester.
Ahead of that rally, Trump praised his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who also is considering a run for Shaheen's seat.
Josh Marcus-Blank, spokesman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, criticized what he called Messner's "Trump-like vanity project of a campaign."
"This is a nasty GOP primary between candidates united in their devotion to Trump and set on ending health care for thousands of Granite Staters, taking away a woman's right to choose, and undoing critical protections for our air and water," he said in a statement. "And it's only getting worse as more candidates join the field."