Kelley, Santonastaso win re-election after voting for secession

  • Dick and Heather Ames campaign outside of the Jaffrey polls on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Mike DeLoria, who led in the Democratic ticket for Hillsborough 32, despite being a first-time candidate, said he plans to run again in two years after a loss at the polls on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Dick Ames campaigns outside the Jaffrey polls on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Shane Sirois campaigning outside of the New Ipswich polls on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • The polls in New Ipswich. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Jim Qualey was re-elected to his seat in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Candidates and their supporters campaign outside the polls in Jaffrey on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI—

  • Matthew Santonastaso campaigns outside the polls in Jaffrey on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO BY ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/9/2022 11:04:03 AM

Republicans made a clean sweep of the Cheshire 18 and Hillsborough 32 state House districts Tuesday at the polls. Among those reelected were Cheshire 18’s Matthew Santonastaso and Hillsborough 32’s Diane Kelley, who were two of 13 members of the House who voted for New Hampshire to secede from the United States.

Numbers were close in Cheshire 18, which includes Dublin, Jaffrey and Rindge, where Santonastaso and fellow Republican incumbent Jim Qualey carried the day. Democratic challengers John McCarthy and Jeff Dickler made a strong showing, with McCarthy only trailing Santonastaso by about 100 votes, but strong Republican turnout in New Ipswich particularly favored the incumbents.

In Hillsborough 32, Republican incumbents Kelley and Jim Kofalt are also returning to the House, joined by political newcomer Shane Sirois, elected for the first time, shutting out Democratic challengers Kermit Williams, Mike Deloria and Rick Swanson. The district includes New Ipswich, Temple and Wilton.

In both races, Republican strongholds were key points to victory, with overwhelming votes in New Ipswich and Rindge outweighing Democratic leads in the other towns within the districts.

Cheshire 18

Qualey took 2,927 votes in House District Cheshire 18, with Santonastaso ta king 2,9 17. McCarthy took 2,811 votes and Dickler 2,621.

Both Republican candidates did well in Rindge, which kept its tradition of strong conservative turnout. In Rindge, Santonastaso received 1,549 votes, and Qualey 1,611 to 1,020 votes for McCarthy and 968 for Dickler.

The turnout in Rindge overcame votes in Jaffrey and Dublin, towns where the majority of voters supported the Democratic ticket. In Jaffrey, McCarthy had the strongest showing, with 1,257 votes, followed by Dickler with 1,135. In comparison, Santonastaso received 1,040 votes in Jaffrey, and Qualey 985.

Similarly, in Dublin, McCarthy was also the top contender, with 538 votes, with Dickler receiving 518, compared to Santonastaso’s and Qualey’s 328 and 331, respectively.

The economy was top of the mind for many Republican voters, said Qualey.

“The things I'm hearing the most about is the current inflationary period we're in, which is hurting a lot of people, me included,” Qualey said while campaigning at the polls in Jaffrey on Tuesday. “And they're worried about availability of fuel to make sure they stay warm this winter and to make sure they have electricity. I'd say that's the biggest concern. They're shaking their heads in wonderment at how bad it's gotten, and it's very clear that is driving them to the polls.”

In Rindge, resident Roni Hamilton said the economy was one of her driving factors this year, and why she was supporting a full Republican ticket, including votes for Qualey and Santonastaso.

“We need them, everything we're going through right now. I don't understand how you can vote Democrat when we're in the position we're in with the economy and inflation,” Hamilton said.

Glenn Weiland was campaigning outside of Jaffrey for Republican candidates on Tuesday, and said he was particularly motivated to be involved this year.

“This is something new for me. I've been watching most of my adult life, and I think I need to get more involved, so that's why I'm here,” Weiland said.

Weiland, a registered independent who sways conservative, said while the economy is a top issue for him, he’s also concerned about “social issues” being integrated into education.

“I'm hoping my grandsons don't have to have a social aspect forced on them, that they learn the core things and let their parents raise them for the social issues, and let the school and government stay out of it,” Weiland said.

Shayna Mali, a resident of North Carolina, had traveled to New Hampshire to support Santonastaso. A member of the Free State Project, a political movement to have a large contingent of Libertarian-minded voters to move to a low-population state and create a strong voting bloc. Mali said she intends to move to the state, and supports Santonastaso.

“I think he is refreshing, and a breath of fresh air,” said Mali. “He believes people should be responsible for themselves, and that you know what’s best for you, and it’s not my job or the government’s job to tell you what that is.”

McCarthy, who fell short of reaching the seat by less than 110 votes, said economy was a issue high in the mind of Democratic supporters, as well. He said he’d seen what seemed to be a high voter turnout for a mid-term election.

“It shows a real concern and interest in democracy,” McCarthy said. “I’m glad people are out voting. We need to get back to talking to each other and listening to each other and not weakening it.”

Hillsborough 32

In Hillsborough 32, New Ipswich was a key point for Republican candidates, with nearly three times the amount of Republican voters turning out, compared to their Democratic counterparts.

Kofalt had the strongest showing overall, taking 2,759 votes, compared to 2,694 for Kelley and 2,643 for Sirois, making a clean Republican sweep for all three seats in the district.

On the Democratic side, political newcomer Mike DeLoria had the strongest showing, with an overall 1,932 votes, with Williams taking 1,898 and Swanson 1,869.

Temple and Wilton both had Democratic majorities, but with leads less dramatic than the heavily Republican New Ipswich.

Sirois led in his hometown of New Ipswich, with 1,619 votes, compared to 1,612 for Kofalt and 1,567 for Kelley. Democrats trailed hugely in New Ipswich, with Deloria taking 605 votes, Williams 573 and Swanson 588.

Democrats fared better in Temple, with Deloria taking 399 votes, Williams 367 and Swanson 372, in comparison to the Republican ticket, where Kofalt took 325 votes, Kelley 322 and Sirois 303.

Similiarly, in Wilton, Democrats had the edge, with Deloria taking 928 votes, Williams 958 and Swanson 909, compared to 822 votes for Kofalt, 805 for Kelley and 721 for Sirois.

Independent Charles Page had an overall showing of 427 votes across the district, with over half of his votes coming from his hometown of New Ipswich.

Sirois, campaigning outside of his hometown polls in New Ipswich on Tuesday, said he had been seeing strong turnout all day – a good sign for him in the traditionally staunchly Republican area. Sirois said inflation seemed to be the No. 1 issue for voters who came out in New Ipswich.

“At the primary, I was hearing all kinds of issues, but today, the two themes seem to be beating the Democrats and fighting this inflation,” Sirois said.

DeLoria, also campaigning in New Ipswich mid-day said he was seeing a lot of voters come out, both in New Ipswich and in Temple, where he had spent his morning.

DeLoria, who was a first-time candidate, said he’ll learn from the experience, and expects to be back on the campaign trail in two years.

“This year, I was starting from scratch, so I think the experience I gained in this campaign will come in handy,” DeLoria said. “Win or lose, I’ll be running again in two years.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.

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