New Hampshire elections close out contentious 2022 midterm primary season

Both student candidates seeking the party nomination in the Grafton 12 state representative primary — which includes Hanover — lost to the four Democratic incumbents.

by Taylor Haber | 9/15/22 5:10am

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Hanover High School bustled with activity as voters arrived to cast their ballots.

by Julia Levine / The Dartmouth

State and local incumbents overwhelmingly won their party’s support ahead of November, while a slew of right-wing congressional Republican candidates emerged in final numbers from New Hampshire’s primaries on Tuesday. 

The four incumbent state representatives for Grafton 12, the state legislative district which includes the towns of Hanover and Lyme, retained their seats. The incumbents — Mary Hakken-Phillips, Dartmouth government professor Russell Muirhead, Sharon Nordgren and James Murphy — beat student challengers Miles Brown ’23 and Nicolás Macri ’24. 

Voters in Hanover cast their votes at Hanover high school from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. in one of the last primaries in the country before the 2022 midterm elections in November. According to the latest count on Wednesday, Hakken-Phillips gathered the most votes for state house, with 1,772. Muirhead received 1,640 votes, Nordgren received 1,637 and Murphy received 1,466. The runner-up, Brown, received 1,119 votes and Macri received 458. 

In an email statement, Brown wrote that he was “encouraged by the amount of support [he] saw” from students and local voters alike. He conceded the race over social media on Wednesday afternoon. 

“My sincerest congratulations to the four incumbent representatives,” he wrote. “I pledge my full support to their campaigns as we head into the general election. I’m excited to keep working to help get Democrats elected up and down the ballot this November.”

Macri, who conceded the race Tuesday night, said in an interview that his loss was “expected” and praised Brown’s performance. 

“I think Miles was successful in working hard to also court non-student voters, and I think that’s why he got more votes [than me],” Macri said.

Students from the College flocked to Hanover High School to cast their ballots. Asa Dow ’26 said he selected Brown and Macri and none of the incumbents.

“I read about them … and I just think youth is good,” he said.

In the state representative election, Democratic voter Matthew Squires said he voted for Brown, Muirhead, Hakken-Phillips and Nordgren, believing his slate of candidates were strong supporters of abortion rights and pro-choice advocates.

“I’m interested in preserving the right to an abortion; it’s very important,” he said. “It seems like it’s under attack in the country and I’m not pleased with the direction it’s going.” 

Incumbents across the state sailed to victory last night, from statewide officials including Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., to Democratic executive councilmember Cinde Warmington and state Senator Suzanne Prentiss, whose district includes Hanover. Prentiss and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster ’78, D-N.H., ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Prentiss said that in the two years since the 2020 election, during which voting and campaigning shifted to accommodate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Hampshire Democrats have become “very well-organized.” In 2020, Democrats unexpectedly lost control of both chambers of the state legislature.

“I think there was a lesson learned from 2020, when we took a position of safety and stayed inside and didn’t go door to door — and saw a majority slip in all of the legislative chambers in the statehouse,” she said. “Lesson learned there.”

Republican primary winners in the state’s three upcoming congressional races all tacked to the right compared to their more ideologically moderate opponents, Axios reported

Retired Gen. Don Bolduc defeated state Senate president Chuck Morse in a bid to unseat Hassan come November. Bolduc, who denies the results of the 2020 election, has been called a conspiracy theorist by Gov. Sununu, according to NHPR. Sununu endorsed Morse in the primary.

Republican voter Jeff Acker, said he did not select a Senate candidate for his party, instead emphasizing his support for Sununu.

“I think [Sununu’s] done a really good job as governor,” he said. “I don’t agree with everything he’s done, but I think he’s navigated this sort of really contentious, hyper-partisan world that we’re living in — and I think he’s navigated it pretty well.”

In New Hampshire’s first congressional district, former Trump administration staffer Karoline Leavitt defeated fellow administration official Matt Mowers. Leavitt will square off against Democrat Chris Pappas, who is running for a third term. The first district has flipped between both parties in five of the last seven elections, and is historically considered the more competitive of New Hampshire’s two districts.

Leavitt, who has also made false claims about the 2020 presidential election, would be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress if she wins.

In New Hampshire’s second congressional district, former Hillsborough County treasurer Bob Burns, who has been labeled “a right-wing candidate” and supporter of Trump by the New York Times, beat Keene, N.H. Mayor George Hansel, who was endorsed by both Sununu and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Burns will face Kuster in the general election.

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