Despite high turnout, Gienko fails to win seat

by Charles Gardner | 11/8/00 6:00am

Bob Gienko, a member of the Class of 2001, despite amassing the largest number of votes among Republican candidates, was defeated yesterday in New Hampshire's 10th district in his bid for a seat on the state legislature.

His victory would have given the Grafton County Republicans their first seat on state legislature in 26 years.

Gienko, one of four Republican candidates running for seats long held by Democrats, won 2,171 votes, far more than the three other Republicans -- Channing Brown, Thomas Toner, and Charles Toner Jr. -- who won 1,558, 1,272 and 1,208 votes respectively.

Neither his nor any of the other Republican vote totals were enough to defeat the four Democratic candidates, Bernie Benn, Sharon Nordgren, Hilda Weyl Sokol and Martha Solow, none of whom amassed less than 2,700 votes.

Voters were required to choose four candidates for seats in the state legislature from the eight listed on the ballot.

"We're proud of the campaign we ran," said Gienko after he learned of the election results. "We campaigned on the issues, but unfortunately ran up against a lot of straight-ticket voters."

Gienko also noted that although over 5,200 voters had participated in the 10th district elections in the towns of Hanover and Lyme, more than 820 of those were newly-registered voters, presumably indicating a high turnout among Dartmouth students.

Eric Christensen '02, Vice President of the College Democrats, expressed his confidence in the four Democrats elected to the state legislature.

"We think that the four Democratic candidates represent a better alternative to Bob," Christensen said. "They believe firmly in a tax to support education based on ability to pay ... and are all Hanover natives, whereas Gienko is from Chicago."

Despite his loss, Gienko was encouraged by what he took to be a strong showing by Dartmouth students, whom he said his campaign had worked to attract.

In the weeks leading to the election, Gienko said he had focused particularly on gaining the support of student voters, whom he hoped would support him regardless of party affiliation.

When asked if he planned to run for office the next time a seat opened, Gienko responded, "I haven't decided yet; it's really up in the air."

"I'll probably go back to school now," he continued, noting that had he won a seat, he would have taken off the Winter term.

Gienko said that he planned to remain active in school politics in his remaining two terms at the College, in an effort to raise the political awareness of the student body.

"I'll stay very involved with the College Republicans, helping to bring speakers to campus and getting more people active and focused on the issues," he said.

Gienko, who was endorsed by Senator John McCain, would have been among the youngest ever to sit on any state legislature, and would have been the first Republican to do so while a student.