The 2002 United States Senate election in New Hampshire was held on November 5, 2002. Incumbent Republican/Independent U.S. Senator
Bob Smith was defeated in the Republican primary by U.S. Representative
John E. Sununu. Sununu won the open seat, defeating Democratic Governor
Jeanne Shaheen. As of 2020, this is the last time a
Republican won the Class 2
Senate seat in New Hampshire.
Bob Smith, the incumbent
Republican Senator, briefly left the party in 1999 to run for president as an independent, claiming that the Republican platform was "not worth the paper it's written on". He rejoined the GOP a few months later, saying he made a mistake. Nonetheless, the party never fully forgave him, and some of his fellow Republican Senators went so far as to endorse his primary opponent, Rep.
John Sununu, who would go on to win by 8 points.
Results of the Republican primary for United States Senate in New Hampshire, 2002
During the campaign, there was a major scandal that involved the use of a
telemarketing firm hired by that state's
Republican Party (NHGOP) for election tampering. The
GOP Marketplace, based in
Northern Virginia, jammed another phone bank being used by the state
Democratic Party and the
union for efforts to turn out voters on behalf of then-
governorJeanne Shaheen on
Election Day. The tampering involved using a call center to jam the phone lines of a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operation. In the end, 900 calls were made for 45 minutes of disruption to the Democratic-leaning call centers. In addition to criminal prosecutions, disclosures in the case have come from a civil suit filed by the state's Democratic Party against the state's Republican Party (now settled). Four men have been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, federal crimes and sentenced to
prison for their involvement as of 2008[update]. One conviction has been reversed by an appeals court, a decision prosecutors are appealing.
James Tobin, freed on appeal, was later indicted on charges of lying to the
FBI during the original investigation.