A Libertarian-Leaning Crypto Celebrity Seeks To Shake Up New Hampshire’s Senate Primary

As of 7:40 a.m., Bruce Fenton had been speaking for 24 hours and 18 minutes, which was how long the lengthiest filibuster ran on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

The New York Sun/Caroline McCaughey
Libertarian candidate Bruce Fenton holds a mock filibuster at a hotel at Manchester, New Hampshire as part of his campaign for the U.S. Senate. The New York Sun/Caroline McCaughey

Bruce Fenton is speaking.

As I write, it’s been more than 30 hours since the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate representing New Hampshire started his “Freedom Filibuster” at the Even Hotel at Manchester, and he says he’s “just getting started.”

“I will do this every damn week if I have to if you send me down there. I will fight and fight and fight like nobody you have ever seen. I have a tireless amount of energy,” Mr. Fenton declared to a small audience — mostly staffers — at the hotel’s conference room and to those watching via YouTube, Twitter, and Clubhouse.

Whether this publicity stunt will get the Bitcoin millionaire, “free stater,” and self-described libertarian the support and votes he needs in the September 13 GOP primary remains to be seen.

In a University of New Hampshire poll from April — the most recent survey on the race — only 1 percent of Republican primary voters declared their support for Mr. Fenton, though 58 percent said they were undecided. Nearly 80 percent of registered voters didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion. General Don Bolduc led with 33 percent support.

The Senate race in New Hampshire is getting national attention as a key for the Democrats if they want to retain their majority in an upper house evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. The incumbent senator, Democrat Maggie Hassan, narrowly won the seat six years ago and her unfavorability rating sits at 51 percent, according to a March St. Anselm College poll.

In a head-to-head matchup, Mr. Fenton earns 40 percent to Ms. Hassan’s 46 percent.

“I’m definitely the one who has the best chance of winning,” Mr. Fenton declared during his filibuster reenactment. “I can appeal to the independents the way that none of the other primary candidates can. And I can also even win over Democrats for exactly the reason. I’m an unconventional Republican.”

Mr. Fenton is a clear outsider candidate. A financial adviser, he has never run for political office and the filibuster ploy is not the first unconventional tactic he’s deployed. He invited the public to his Durham estate for a barbeque on July 4 that included a bouncy castle and crafts for kids. He gave out his cellphone number on Twitter and Facebook — the Sun tried it, and he does indeed respond.

Mr. Fenton calls himself a “Ron Paul Republican,” and he is more libertarian than traditional Republican. He is also a free-stater, who signed the Free State Project’s pledge to move to New Hampshire with his family 10 years ago. Democrats are sure to hit him hard for his association with the libertarian-leaning group. Mr. Fenton counters that “you can’t win in New Hampshire without the free-staters anymore.”

Mr. Fenton says he doesn’t want to go down to the D.C. “swamp,” but says we’re at a critical moment in our nation’s history and he couldn’t sit idly by and do nothing. “We have seen more of our freedoms eroded in the last two years than perhaps at any other time in American history,” he declared.

Mr. Fenton opposes vaccine and mask mandates, calls taxation “theft,” and says he is for “freedom across the board.” He is an ardent defender of the Second Amendment and doesn’t think there should be any restrictions on guns. He is personally anti-abortion but says he doesn’t think the federal government should put any regulation on abortion. He is fiercely anti-war, though he served in the Navy. 

As a finance guy, most of his positions come back to monetary policy. “The fiat money system is broken. Everything from war to obesity, from drone bombings to for-profit prisons, the root of it is money,” he says. 

He is also in favor of more legal immigration — a standard libertarian position — and he says drugs should be legal. “It should be viewed as a medical more than a criminal issue,” he says.

These positions, Mr. Fenton says, make him a difficult target for Ms. Hassan. “She called me a right-wing extremist on her Facebook page and got 900 comments. She never mentioned me again,” he joked. “I’m in favor of gay marriage, I’m in favor of legalizing marijuana, far more open immigration policy — everything that she tries to pick as a fundraising thing doesn’t really work.”

Mr. Fenton has raised the least amount of money among the primary entrants, though he has donated $1.6 million of his own money to his campaign so far. This filibuster may earn him more name recognition. He has also appeared on Fox Business recently. 

There were only nine audience members in the small conference room at the Even Hotel, though they almost filled the room, which was decked out with Bruce Fenton signs and two large Captain America shields.

The event was designed to be viewed online and streamed on multiple platforms with fluctuating audience size. He fielded calls from local politicians, constituents, and cryptocurrency enthusiasts from around the country, among whom he is something of a celebrity. His dog even made an appearance at the podium Tuesday morning.

Mr. Fenton chose to call his around-the-clock speech a “filibuster” as a symbolic protest of President Biden’s support for suspending the filibuster to codify abortion right protections after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. “The filibuster in the Senate is an important power, and it’s under threat by the Biden administration and others, so I think it’s an important thing to defend,” Mr. Fenton said.

He takes pride in his ability to speak off-script and criticizes politicians who evade questions or can’t speak without a teleprompter — a clear knock at Mr. Biden. He also acknowledges that his Republican primary opponents and Ms. Hassan will try to use his words against him in ads, but he’s okay with that.

“You can’t fake it for 24 hours,” Mr. Fenton exclaimed.

There was applause at 7:40 a.m. Tuesday, when Mr. Fenton’s speech surpassed the 24-hour, 18-minute mark, which is the record for the longest filibuster on the U.S. Senate floor, set by Strom Thurmond in 1957.

“As of this minute I’ve spoken longer than any senator has ever spoken on the floor,” he said. “I am what we need now. This is the time that we send a message to Washington, D.C.”


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