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Republicans come out on top in state and local races



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Incumbent Democratic state representatives Mary Cooney and Suzanne Smith strike a pose alongside their supporters at the polls Tuesday evening. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
November 03, 2010
REGION — With the momentum and the tide of public opinion in their favor, Republicans enjoyed a near sweep of all the major races at both the state and local level in Tuesday's General Election.

The one key position that eluded the GOP Tuesday was the governor's seat, which went to Democratic incumbent John Lynch for an unprecedented fourth consecutive term, making him New Hampshire's longest-serving governor since the Colonial era.

Despite Republican challenger and former Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen's efforts to portray him as a reckless spender whose support for the early release and monitoring of prisoners put public safety at risk, Lynch pulled ahead to an early victory in the governor's race, claiming 52 percent of the statewide vote to Stephen's 45 percent, according to the tallies found on WMUR News 9's Web site.

Victory also came early to former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, who soundly defeated former Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes in the race for retiring U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg's seat.

In the First Congressional District, former Manchester mayor Frank Guinta rode a wave of voter unrest over the federal Stimulus bill (which many view as ineffective) and the recently passed health care reform bill to victory over Democratic incumbent Carol Shea-Porter, claiming 54 percent of the vote to Shea-Porter's 42 percent.

The battle between former Republican Congressman Charlie Bass and Democrat Annie Kuster for the Second Congressional District seat currently held by Hodes proved to be a nail-biter, with the two candidates running neck-and-neck until just before midnight, when Kuster, who was beginning to lose ground at that point, conceded to Bass.

In one of the most closely watched races among local voters, incumbent Democratic state Sen. Deb Reynolds had fallen behind Republican challenger Jeanie Forrester by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent as of press time Tuesday night, with 94 percent of precincts in Senate District 2 reporting.

Local House races saw a mixed bag of results.

In Belknap District 1 (which includes New Hampton), Republican Tyler Simpson outpaced Democrat Ruth Gulick to claim the seat formerly held by Fran Wendelboe.

Democratic incumbent Jim Aguiar was returned to his seat in Grafton District 6, and will be joined by Republican Vicki Schwaegler.

Largely on the strength of their success at the polls in Plymouth, Democratic incumbents Suzanne Smith and Mary Cooney re-claimed their seats in Grafton District 7, while Republicans Skip Reilly, Jeff Shackett, and Paul Simard claimed the three open seats in District 8, ousting Democratic incumbent Phil Preston.

In Grafton District 10 (which includes Dorchester), Republicans Paul Mirski and Charles Sova claimed two of the three open seats, while the remaining seat went to Democrat Chuck Townsend, the only incumbent to survive the race.

The final tallies in contested county races — which included County Treasurer, Register of Deeds, Register of Probate, and County Commissioner — were unavailable as of press time Tuesday, but early results showed the vote trending toward the Republican candidates.

Plymouth voters revealed a strong Democratic streak at the polls Tuesday, choosing Lynch over Stephen in the governor's race, 1,073-580, while Libertarian John J. Babiarz tallied 64 votes.

The liberal trend in Plymouth extended to the U.S. Senate race, with Hodes amassing 865 votes to Ayotte's 774 while Libertarian Ken Blevens had 27 and Independent Chris Booth 21.

Kuster was the favorite among Plymouth voters in the Second Congressional District race, notching 969 votes to Bass' 655, while Independent Tim vanBlommesteyn had 42 and Libertarian Howard L. Wilson 40.

Republican Ray Burton walked away with the Executive Council race in Plymouth, tallying 1,053 votes to Beth Funicella's 602, while the state Senate race went to Reynolds, who outpaced Forrester, 1,015-669.

Smith (with 875 votes) and Cooney (with 861) emerged as the victors in the race for District 7 state representative, followed by Republicans Henry Ahern (713) and Neil McIver (677).

Plymouth voters opted to return Republican Carol Elliott to her former position as Grafton County Treasurer, giving her 967 votes to John Chamberlin's 665. Meanwhile, Democrat Kelly Jean Monahan overcame Republican Raymah Simpson in the race for Register of Deeds, 920-659, while Democrat Douglas Grant overtook Republican Rebecca Wyman in the race for Register of Probate, 815-764, and Democratic incumbent Martha Richards triumphed over Republican challenger Omer Ahern, Jr. in the race for County Commissioner, 959-709.

The Republicans ruled the day in Bristol, with the exception of Stephen, who was edged out by Lynch, 555-520, while Babiarz had 44.

The U.S. Senate race went to Ayotte, with 727 votes vs. Hodes' 335, while Booth had 38 and Blevens 19.

Bass handily defeated Kuster in Bristol, 571-449, while vanBlommesteyn had 43 votes and Wilson 34.

Burton overwhelmed Funicella, 815-268, while Forrester overcame Reynolds, 669-419.

Shackett (663), Reilly (612) and Simard (543) tallied wins in the District 8 race, while Preston had 362 votes; Tuthill 352; and Lieto 312.

Elliott outpaced Chamberlin, 731-308, while Simpson overcame Monahan, 835-258; Wyman pulled ahead of Grant, 710-316; and Omer Ahern shot past Richards, 632-412.

Lynch barely edged out Stephen in Ashland, 364-358, while Babiarz had 28.

Ayotte soundly defeated Hodes, 457-259, while Booth had 20 votes and Blevens 12.

Bass surged past Kuster, 355-336, while vanBlommesteyn had 26 votes and Wilson 17.

Burton overcame Funicella, 520-188, while Forrester pulled ahead of Reynolds, 406-316.

Reilly (393), Preston (349), and Simard (341) claimed the three District 8 seats in Bristol, while Shackett had 334; Tuthill 259; and Lieto 242.

Elliott once again outpaced Chamberlin, 487-216, while Simpson edged out Monahan, 380-302; Wyman overtook Grant, 443-239; and Omer Ahern pulled ahead of Richards, 393-325.

A full re-cap of Tuesday's election results will appear in next week's edition of the Record-Enterprise.

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