SEABROOK – There’s no two ways about it: Democrats in New Hampshire had a very good day at the polls on Tuesday after being swept out of office in the 2010 state election. Even traditionally Republican Seabrook gave them a hand.
Seabrook helped former state Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-Exeter, take over the Governor’s Office from four-term Democrat John Lynch. And Republicans lost their majority in the House of Representatives with a little nudge from Seabrook, nearly lost their majority in the state Senate and lost a majority on New Hampshire’s powerful Executive Council.
Adding to the joy among the Blue party, Democrats Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster are going to Washington, D.C., to represent New Hampshire in the 1st and 2nd Congressional districts, respectively. In hard-fought campaigns, the women defeated two incumbent Republicans, Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass.
Helping Shea-Porter eke out her narrow 49 to 46 percent win over Guinta were Seabrook voters and its Libertarian selectman, Brendan Kelly, who ran in the race and may have siphoned off votes. Kelly earned more than 12,000 votes district-wide, equaling more than 4 percent of the overall tally.
State Legistature evens out
At last count, Democrats are expected to take at least 217 of the 400 seats in the state House of Representatives. The change in power will take the gavel out of the hands of current Republican Speaker of the House William O’Brien, who has been accused of being a domineering leader who punished more moderate Republicans who disagreed with his very conservative views.
Bucking the trend, Seabrook is sending three Republicans to the House to represent them in Rockingham District 20. Three local candidates, all Republicans, ran unopposed for the three seats available in that district. Incumbents and husband and wife team Koko and Amy Perkins will be heading back to Concord for their third term, and Selectman Aboul Khan will join them for his first, while keeping his seat on the Board of Selectmen.
But in newly constructed Rockingham District 37, which represents Seabrook, Hampton and Hampton Falls, Democrat Elaine Ahearn received a total of 6,751 votes, with Republican Sharleene Hurst getting 6,615. Seabrook helped Ahearn gain her seat, choosing her over Hurst by a tiny 4-vote margin.
In the state Senate, Republicans lost their 19 to 6 majority; and although they retain their advantage, it will be by the narrowest 13-11 margin.
In Seabrook’s Senate District 24, however, both the town and the district re-elected incumbent Republican Nancy Stiles of Hampton. In the sprawling district that stretches from New Castle to Seabrook and Stratham to Newton, Stiles earned 52 percent of the vote, taking the lead in every one of the largest communities in the district, including Seabrook.
With 48 percent of the vote, Stiles’ opponent, Hampton Democrat Beverly Hollingworth, made a respectable showing after being out of politics for two years. Hollingworth, who for years represented Seabrook in the Senate, lost her seat on the Executive Council in 2010, after the Republican sweep.
Democrats also earned three of the five seats on the Executive Council, which must approve all gubernatorial appointments, grants and state contracts. Seabrook again bucked the trend, helping incumbent Republican Christopher Sununu keep his seat on the council.
In county-wide elections, Republican Jim Reams was re-elected as Rockingham County attorney, and Michael Downey, also a Republican, will get a second term as sheriff. Although popular Seacoast candidate John Clark, former Seabrook district court clerk, led the sheriff’s race in Seabrook, Downing won by a substantial margin when all votes were tallied.
Of the three questions on the ballot, none earned the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
Question 1 asked voters to approve an amendment to the state constitution that would ban an income tax. Statewide, that appears to have garnered only 57 percent support.
Question 2 asked voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would limit the state Supreme Court’s administrative authority. Voters rejected the question with 51 percent voting no, and 49 voting yes.
And voters firmly defeated Question 3, which asked if they wanted to convene a Constitutional Convention. Sixty-four percent did not.