Democrat Maggie Hassan wins NH governor’s raceThe Associated Press | November 07,2012AP Photo
Democratic candidate for governor Maggie Hassan greets voters with state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro on Monday in Goffstown, N.H.CONCORD, N.H. — Former state Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan will keep the New Hampshire governor’s seat in Democratic control after she beat Republican Ovide Lamontagne, an opponent she said was too extreme for the state.
With Tuesday’s win, Hassan is in line to succeed John Lynch, the governor since 2005 who served four two-year terms and is retiring.
Hassan’s campaign stressed the need to repair damage done by the Republican Legislature in its last budget, particularly by restoring deep cuts to public colleges and the state’s hospitals. She said the way to grow the economy is to invest in education so business has the workforce it needs.
Hassan painted Lamontagne as too radical for New Hampshire, particularly for women.
Lamontagne, a Catholic, strongly opposes abortion and gay marriage, though he did not emphasize his support for imposing limits on abortion or repealing New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law in his campaign. He supports replacing gay marriage with civil unions for heterosexual and same-sex couples but doesn’t support invalidating existing same-sex marriages. He also supports exempting religious organizations from contraceptive mandates in insurance coverage.
Hassan highlighted her support for the rights of workers to unionize, for women to have access to abortions and birth control, and for gays to marry. Hassan was instrumental in the Senate passing the state’s law legalizing same-sex unions in 2009. An effort to repeal it fell short this year.
That resonated with Donna Hennessey, a 50-year-old mortgage lender from Canterbury, who said it was a key in her decision to vote for Hassan.
“Women need to have a say over their own bodies,” she said.
Lamontagne’s positions on social issues also prompted Kevin Landry, 25, of Canterbury, to vote for Hassan. Landry called Lamontagne’s views “obnoxious.”
Exit poll interviews with New Hampshire voters showed Hassan drew support from women, unmarried voters and those whose annual family incomes totaled less than $50,000.
Independents were also a key. According to exit polls, Lamontagne and Hassan each captured more than 90 percent of their respective party bases, but Hassan led among the four in 10 who consider themselves independents.
A steady flow of voters kept many polling places busy Tuesday in a battleground state for the presidency. Voters turned out early, braving the cold to weigh in on the fate of New Hampshire’s four electoral votes in a tight race between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
They also were deciding close races for two congressional seats and were casting ballots for 400 state House seats and 24 state Senate seats.
Both parties predicted Democratic gains in the Statehouse. In the House, there are 288 Republicans to 102 Democrats with 10 vacancies. There are 18 Republicans and five Democrats in the Senate, with one vacancy.
Voters also were being asked to vote on two proposed constitutional amendments.
Both Hassan, 54, of Exeter, and Lamontagne, 55, of Manchester, are business attorneys and campaigned on the need to grow the economy and jobs. Both promised to veto personal income and general sales taxes.
Hassan argued education was the key and said she would reverse the $50 million in annual cuts the Legislature made to the University System of New Hampshire in the last budget. She would help pay for the aid by raising the cigarette tax and hiring auditors to ensure businesses pay their taxes.
She also would double the state’s business research and development tax credit.
Lamontagne proposed cutting the state’s tax on business profits and enacting new tax credits to help business and promised to ease regulations.
Both supported a limited expansion of gambling.
The race was Hassan’s first try for governor and Lamontagne’s second. He lost to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, now a U.S. senator, in 1996. He also ran unsuccessful campaigns for Congress in 1992 and U.S. Senate in 2010.
Hassan lost her first bid for state Senate in 2002 but won the seat in the following election. She was defeated during a Republican sweep in 2010.
John Babiarz, a Libertarian from Grafton, also sought the office.MORE IN Wire News
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