Governor race goes to Hassan

  • Jan Ford of Greenfield, who was at the polls campaigning for her husband, Desmond Ford, at the polls Tuesday, talks with State Rep. Bill Condra of Wilton who ran for re-election in Hillsborough District 4.
  • County Commissioner Stillman Rogers campaigns outside the polling booth at the VFW in Jaffrey on Tuesday with fellow Democrats.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge residents and state candidates gather outside the Rindge Memorial School on Tuesday morning to campaign before voters.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Former State Rep. Joel Manning campaigns for Harry Young of Jaffrey at the Rindge Memorial School on Tuesday. Young, a Democrat, defeated incumbent State Rep. Frank Sterling, a Jaffrey Republican, for a seat in Cheshire County District 14.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

Democratic candidates swept offices at the top of the ballot on Tuesday, electing three women — Maggie Hassan as governor and Annie Kuster and Carol Shea Porter to Congress — and taking three of five seats on the Executive Council. And late Wednesday, it became clear the Democrats would regain control of the New Hampshire House, too.

They also narrowed the gap in the State Senate, where 11 Democrats will now hold seats alongside 13 Republicans. That’s assuming the results stand in District 9, where Republican Andy Sanborn defeated Democrat Lee Nyquist by just 253 votes.

Hassan, the second woman to be elected governor in New Hampshire, defeated Republican Ovide Lamontagne by a 55-percent to 43-percent margin. In the 16 towns in the Monadnock region the Ledger-Transcript covers, Hassan got 13,096 votes and Lamontagne received 10,639.

The tightest race was in Senate District 9, which runs from Bedford in the east to Richmond in the west and includes Dublin, Jaffrey, Hancock, Greenfield, Peterborough, Sharon, Temple and Lyndeborough, along with Troy, Fitzwilliam, Mont Vernon and New Boston.

On Wednesday, Sanborn, who moved to Bedford earlier this year, said the result was gratifying. “I’m incredibly thankful that the voters embraced my conversation about everyone having a job, keeping our taxes low and keeping government spending in check,” Sanborn said. “That’s what I’ve been talking about for five years. Obviously the Republican Party had a difficult day. But it shows that if you’re on message, people will support you.”

Sanborn received 15,478 votes to Nyquist’s 15,225. In the eight district towns covered by the Ledger-Transcript, however, Nyquist came out well ahead, capturing 6,091 votes to Sanborn’s 4,337.

On Tuesday, Nyquist said he was pleased with the support he’d received. “I’m so gratified that over 15,000 people voted for me,” he said. “I believe it’s a historically high number for someone who didn’t prevail. To have that many come out to vote was an incredibly heartwarming experience.”

He said the district has more Republicans than Democrats, which posed a challenge. “We knew it was winnable and I think we proved that. We may have lost by a hair, but the results are very satisfying.”

Nyquist said he would consider asking for a recount, but hadn’t reached a decision yet. The deadline for requesting a recount is Friday, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Sanborn said he wasn’t concerned about the closeness of the race. “I feel confident that even if the Democratic Party asks for a recount we’ll be successful. I feel that we should move on and do the people’s work.”

He said he expected the Republican-controlled Senate would be able to work with Hassan, the incoming Democratic governor. “I worked closely with [current Democratic governor] John Lynch on a number of issues,” said Sanborn, who served in the former Senate District 7 until he resigned his seat when he moved. “I will give everyone an opportunity. We’ll find places where we can work together.”

In District 12, which includes Rindge, Greenville, Mason and New Ipswich, Democrat Peggy Gilmour beat incumbent Republican Jim Luther by a 52-percent to 48-percent margin.

The race was a rematch; Gilmour lost the seat to Luther in 2010. “I didn’t feel the Legislature was representative of what I wanted it to be,” Gilmour said Wednesday. “I’m hoping to be able to work in a moderate, common-sense way toward what my constituents want. We have to manage our finances responsibly, but we also have to invest for the long-term.”

In other local state Senate races, Republican Bob Odell won handily in District 8, which includes Antrim, Bennington and Francestown, and incumbent Republican Peter Bragdon was unopposed in District 11, which includes Wilton.

State rep races

Statewide, Republicans will hold fewer seats in the House of Representatives overall, where they now have a 3 to 1 margin. Redistricting changed the map for many candidates this year, but a number of them were re-elected, including Republican House Speaker Bill O’Brien. O’Brien came in second to Democrat David Woodbury, but he still earned a seat to represent Mont Vernon and New Boston.

A number of new faces will be heading to Concord and a few incumbents lost seats.

In Hillsborough District 3, Jon Manley of Bennington defeated Des Ford of Hancock by a margin of 1,587 to 1,158. “I’m pleased that a bunch of us won,” said Manley, referring to the success of area Democrats. “I’m hoping we can bring a little sanity to Concord. If we ever get too many of one party, we don’t have to work together. Having a more balanced House will be a good thing.”

In Cheshire District 9, which includes Dublin and Jaffrey, Democrats Dick Ames and Douglas Ley defeated Republicans Charlie Moore and Raymond Demarais. “I think it was a very good day yesterday,” Ames said Wednesday. “The equation has changed for Concord in a way that should enable everyone there to focus on real issues and get away from ideological perspectives. We need to focus on the budget, education, affordable health care. I see this as a tremendous opportunity.”

Ley, a professor at Franklin Pierce University, said Tuesday that efforts to encourage voting by FPU students may have helped Democrats. “I think student turnout would narrow the gap in favor of Obama. There was an effort to have students register here or vote by absentee ballot in their hometowns. My district doesn’t include Rindge, so it didn’t benefit me directly,” Ley said.

Newcomer Harry Young, a Democrat, defeated prominent Republican Frank Sterling for the new Cheshire District 14 floterial seat, which includes Dublin, Jaffrey, Rindge and three other towns. “It was incredible,” Young said Wednesday. “The guy I beat has been in politics a very long time. It was a tough battle, and we pulled it off. I worked with Doug Ley and Dick Ames. It was a great team effort.”

According to Sterling, the result might have been different if this hadn’t been a presidential election year. Late on Tuesday, he said, first-time voters were lined up outside in Jaffrey waiting to vote and many of them were Democrats. He said that presidential election brought out a different kind of voter. “I think New Hampshire is now is pretty solidly a blue state,” Sterling said. “I lost the 14th district by 200 votes. If you take out all the new registered voters in Rindge and Jaffrey, I probably would have won.”

In Hillsborough District 4 (Francestown, Lyndeborough, Wilton and Greenville), Republican Bill Condra and Democrat Kermit Williams, both from Wilton, were winners.

“We’re next-door neighbors,” Condra said Tuesday in Lyndeborough, where the two men were campaigning.

“If we both get elected, we’ll ask for seats together,” Williams said.

Other state rep races

• Richard McNamara of Hillsborough and Richard Eaton of Greenville won two seats in Hillsborough District 38, a floterial district that includes Antrim, Bennington, Francestown, Greenville, Greenfield, Hancock, Lyndeborough and Wilton. “It’s bigger than some Senate districts,” McNamara said Tuesday, as he held a sign outside the Antrim Town Hall before heading south to Greenville.

• Democrats Jill Shaffer Hammond and incumbent Peter Leishman won the two seats for Peterborough, which has its own district this year, beating incumbent Bruce Marcus, the only Republican on the ballot.

• Republicans Jim Coffey and Jim Parison, both of New Ipswich, won the two Hillsborough District 25 seats, beating Temple Democrats Jennifer Daler and Mary Beth Ayvazian.

• In Hillsborough District 1, which includes Antrim, incumbent Marjorie Porter and Gil Shattuck, both Democrats, defeated Republican incumbent Robert Fredette.

• In Cheshire District 11 (Rindge and Fitzwilliam), incumbent Republicans Susan Emerson and John Hunt ran unopposed and were re-elected.

Other results

Democrats took three of the state’s five Executive Council seats. In District 2, former Executive Councilor Debra Pignatelli, a Democrat, ousted incumbent Republican Dave Wheeler by a 52-percent to 48-percent margin. In District 2, newcomer Colin VanOstern won handily over Republican Michael Tierney, capturing 58 percent of the vote.

Voters also weighed in on three ballot questions.

A proposal to amend the state constitution in order to permanently ban an income tax received about 57 percent approval, but that fell short of the two-thirds margin required to pass. Voters also rejected a proposed amendment that would have given the Legislature more say in the administration of the court system, although that too won a majority, but not two-thirds. A proposal to hold a constitutional convention was soundly rejected.

Reporters Alyssa Dandrea and Ashley Saari contributed to this story.

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