Changes should be coming to Concord in November
Hassan-Lamontagne gubernatorial race tops list of interesting contests
The September primary produced final slates of candidates with interesting results, as always. A stronger turnout in the Democratic primary encouraged Democrats to think that their party is energized, and a reasonably strong Republican turnout – that exceeded the expectations of Secretary of State William Gardner slightly — also indicated interest among GOP voters.
As predicted, Ovide Lamontagne easily won the Republican nomination for governor over the less well-known Kevin Smith. Perhaps more surprising was the relatively easy victory of Maggie Hassan, a former state senator, over a fellow former state senator, Jackie Cilley, for the Democratic nomination.
The differences between the two gubernatorial candidates are clear, Lamontagne being a conservative Republican and Hassan being a moderate Democrat who supports more liberal social positions while Lamontagne endorses more conservative ones. This should be an interesting race between two fine people.
Both incumbent congressmen, Charlie Bass in the 2nd District and Frank Guinta in the 1st, defeated their relatively unknown opponents to face the same Democrats they faced two years ago, Ann McLane Kuster and former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, respectively.
For Executive Council, the results set up an election that undoubtedly will see changes in the currently all-Republican council.
In District 1, Raymond Burton, dean of the Executive Council easily defeated retired businessman Jerry Thibodeau and will face Democrat Beth Funicella of Jackson in the general election. Burton is expected to win an 18th term.
District 2 is thought to be gerrymandered to include many Democratic towns and is believed to be a safe Democratic district. If so, that would break the Republican lock on the council.
As a correction to a prior misstatement in this column, the Republican Party is represented by Attorney Michael Tierney of Hopkinton. I mistakenly stated that there was no Republican running for that job and apologize to Mr. Tierney who has his work cut out for him in the election. Tierney will face Colin Van Ostern, who defeated former Councilor John Shea and relatively unknown Shawn Mickelonis.
In District 3, incumbent Chris Sununu faces Bill Duncan of New Castle for what is probably a Republican seat.
Robert Burns, Hillsborough County treasurer, narrowly won the Republican nomination to replace the retiring Ray Wieczorek in District 4, a redrawn district that includes Manchester, apparently besting state Sen. Tom DeBlois and Bedford business owner Chuck Rolecek in a tight race that may produce a recount but probably will not produce a new result. He will face Chris Pappas, former Democratic City chair.
Former Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli won the Democratic nomination to oppose David Wheeler, the incumbent in District 5, and that could produce another Democratic seat.
Therefore, the council could be 3-2 Republican, or perhaps 4-1.
In notable results from the Senate primaries, former Sen. Andy Sanborn who has moved to District 9 in Bedford, defeated Rep. Ken Hawkins handily to earn the Republican nomination. He will face attorney Lee Nyquist in the general election. Nyquist was unopposed and has raised substantial funds for the race.
In District 7, Laconia businessman Joshua Youssef defeated William Grimm of Franklin by a narrow margin. Youssef is controversial in that he previously asked the Legislature to impeach several judges involved with his divorce and faces charges of campaign trickery. Democrat Andrew Hosmer of Laconia will face Youssef in the general election.
In District 6, Dick Green, a former state senator and Rochester mayor, lost his bid to be the Republican nominee, with Rep. Sam Cataldo of Farmington winning the race. Cataldo will face Democrat Richard Leonard in the general election.
Longtime Sen. Jack Barnes retired in District 17. Rep. John Reagan of Deerfield won the nomination by fewer than 150 votes and will face Nancy Fraher of Chichester in the general election.
In District 11, Senate President Peter Bragdon won renomination over Daniel Dwyer of Merrimack. There is no Democrat currently in the race, but perhaps one will be named by the party.
Certain pundits are predicting that there will be a much tighter Republican majority in the Senate after the election, probably reduced to 14-10 or 13-11, with an outside chance that there could be an even number of senators from each party — something that has happened in the past and resulted in interesting leadership races.
As in the Senate, the House is expected to be more evenly balanced between the parties after the general election.
In one notable race, House Speaker William O’Brien of Mont Vernon won nomination to one of the two seats in his district. O’Brien has announced his candidacy for another term as Speaker, a race that probably is dependent on the mix of representatives who will be elected. In the past, moderate Republicans have teamed up with Democrats to elect more moderate Republican speakers than O’Brien has proven to be, and if the results make that possible, such an effort is likely to occur.
Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.