January 29, 2014NORTH COUNTRY — Last Tuesday, Joe Kenney, a Wakefield Republican, won the party's primary for the District 1 Executive Council seat. He defeated Christopher Boothby, of Meredith, by exactly 1,000 votes. Mark Aldrich, of Lebanon, finished third.
Kenney will face Michael Cryans, a Hanover Democrat, in the general election. Voters in the vast district will select their new Councilor on town meeting day, March 11. District 1 covers about two-thirds of the state's land area.
New Hampshire's Executive Council is unique in the nation. The five-member body votes on a governor's executive and judicial appointments, as well as state contracts over $10,000. The late Ray Burton served on the council for 35 years, along with more than two decades as a county commissioner.
In total, Kenney took 3,622 votes, which was 53.7 percent of the votes cast. Boothby totaled 2,622 votes, with Aldrich receiving 499.
Although he came in second across the district, Boothby received more votes than Kenney in northern Grafton County. The three northern tiers of towns, stretching from Littleton to Lincoln and Haverhill, gave Boothby 281 vote to Kenney's 214, with Aldrich garnering 51 votes in the area.
Kenney fared well in several parts of Coös County. He won Berlin with 50 votes to Boothby's 36. Lancaster was another strong Kenney town, providing him 63 votes. Boothby and Aldrich combined for only 27 votes in town. At the northern tip of the district, Pittsburg voters gave Kenney 19 votes to Boothby's 17.
Larger jurisdictions in the southern part of the district boosted Kenney, as well. He carried Lebanon, Claremont, and Wolfeboro.
Both of the state's major political parties drew battle lines after the primary results were in. The Republican Party issued a statement of support for Kenney. Party chairman Jennifer Horn wrote, "Mike Cryans is a typical tax and spend liberal who is bought and paid for by the union bosses and special interests that are propping up his campaign. If elected, Cryans will be another rubber stamp on the Executive Council for more spending and more wasteful projects that are threatening New Hampshire's fiscal stability."
The Democrats responded. Chairman Ray Buckley wrote, "New Hampshire voters spoke loud and clear when they overwhelmingly rejected Joe Kenney in 2008. His reckless brand of Tea Party ideology would put women's health care at risk, cost the state millions in taxpayer dollars, and cut investment in critical priorities like education and roads."
Kenney and Cryans intend to campaign hard in the short period before the general election. Kenney will continue his "Catch a Cup of Joe" stops at coffee houses in District 1. Cryans wrote, "I will be taking my grassroots people powered campaign to communities across the district."
Both candidates knew Burton for several years. Cryans served with the councilor as a Grafton County commissioner. While in the state House and Senate, Kenney worked with Burton.