New Hampshire concludes 2018 primaries

by Wally Joe Cook | 9/14/18 2:40am

On Tuesday, New Hampshire held its 2018 primaries for its Congressional, gubernatorial and local elections. As Democrats face an uphill battle to take back the House, they seek to hold their current ground in the upcoming general election.

History will almost certainly be made in New Hampshire’s first Congressional district come November. Chris Pappas, who won the Democratic nomination with 42.2 percent of the vote, would be the state’s first openly gay congressman and Eddie Edwards, who won the Republican primary with 48 percent of the vote, would be its first African-American congressman.

In New Hampshire’s second district, which contains the College, Rep. Ann McLane Kuster ran unopposed to secure the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, Steven Negron barely edged out his competitors in a close race, securing 26.1 percent of the vote. Candidates Stewart Levenson and Lynne Blankenbeker earned 25.2 percent and 22.9 percent respectively.

Molly Kelly, a progressive who has never run for national office before, won the Democratic primary for governor over Steve Marchand, securing 65.7 percent of the vote. Governor Chris Sununu ran unopposed and will be the Republican nominee in November.

Two Dartmouth students also won their primaries to represent Hanover in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. In November, Baronet “Webb” Harrington ’20 will be Hanover’s Republican nominee and Garrett Muscatel ’20 its Democratic nominee.

“I was happy to see the great turnout,” Muscatel said. “I’m ready to get to work for the general.”

Many candidates in the primary race also once held local legislative positions, such as Kelly who served as a state senator for ten years before running for governor.

“She is very concerned with many of the policies that Governor Sununu is pushing in New Hampshire,” Chris Moyer, the communications director for the Kelly campaign, said. “A lot of them are very similar to what Donald Trump is doing at the national level.”

Some policies he mentioned Kelly took issue with were “tax breaks for the wealthy” and “school vouchers.” According to Moyer, Kelly also plans to repeal a bill signed by Sununu that eliminated the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Additionally, he said Kelly supports universal background checks, sharing information about background checks with surrounding states and keeping guns out of the hands of minors and domestic abusers.

“When [Kelly] was a mom with four children, she never worried about their safety and now, as a grandmother with seven children, she worries every single day,” Moyer said.

Kelly is also focused on the issue of voter suppression.

“She has been a staunch supporter of expanding the ability of people to vote,” Moyer said.

He explained that, as governor, Kelly would attempt to repeal HB1264 and SB3, two bills passed under Sununu which make it more difficult for out-of-state college students to vote in New Hampshire.

President of Dartmouth Democrats Max Brautigam ’20 believes Kelly has a “solid chance” at defeating Sununu, the incumbent.

“We’re really riding a blue wave here,” Brautigam said. “There’s a lot of momentum that we’ve built and we’re looking forward to building that even more as we go into November.”

Sharing Brautigam’s sentiments, Moyer added that Republicans did not want to face Kelly and would have rather faced Marchand in the general election.

“They’ve been much more critical of her than they have been of her opponent,” he said.

Moyer also said Kelly’s campaign fundraising could be a reason for New Hampshire residents to support her in November.

“[Kelly] is the only candidate from day one of this campaign who has not taken any money from corporate contributions,” Moyer said. “I think people are excited that [Kelly] is not going to be beholden to any special interests.”

Vice president of Dartmouth College Republicans Daniel Bring ’21 was less convinced of Kelly’s chances.

“I’m very confident that Governor Sununu will be elected to a second term,” Bring said. “He’s one of the most popular governors in the nation.”

With the primaries over, the parties have turned their attention to the general election. Among the races, New Hampshire’s first district has drawn particular interest as Rep. Carol Shea Porter is stepping down after this term, leaving a vacant seat.

“It would be really cool to see a new face fill in for Shea Porter,” Brautigam said. He added that he would like to see more young voices represented in Congress.

Bring said that the open seat has led to infighting among Republican candidates because there is a very high chance of it being a Republican pickup. The district voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

Citing attacks between the Edwards and Sanborn campaigns as an example, he warned that “it could weaken their positions going into the general elections.”

The primary has also been contentious one for Democrats, with Sullivan and Pappas exchanging critical words through their mailing letters. One of Sullivan’s letters drew particular attention for saying that Pappas had “no real backbone.”

“Suggesting that a gay man is weak or spineless is among the nastiest attacks I’ve seen in any primary and no New Hampshire Democrat, especially those of us who fought for marriage equality, transgender equality and a conversion therapy ban, should stand for these smears,” State Senator David Watters said, according to WMUR9.

Additionally, the primary saw an increase in voter registration in Hanover. Under current legislation, the upcoming general election will be the last in which previously unregistered out-of-state students can vote.

“I would love to see voter registration increase,” Brautigam said. “It’s a great opportunity to have your voice heard and look out for yourself while you’re at college.” According to Brautigam, the Office of Residential Life helped students register to vote on Tuesday’s election. He added that Dartmouth Democrats will host voter registration events before the general elections.

“Our big job is to make sure people know that they can vote,” he said. “If you’re a Dartmouth student who’s over 18 and a U.S. citizen, then you can vote in the upcoming general election.”

Bring added that the law will likely “contribute to a small swing in favor of Republicans.”

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The general elections will be held on Nov 6.