Election 2020 Results: New Hampshire Voters Split Their Tickets

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CONCORD, NH — Incumbents Gov. Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-NH, easily cruised to victory Tuesday as voters across the state chose to split their tickets — sending two of the three federal Democrats back to their positions and Washington and the state's Republican governor back to the corner office.

At a few minutes past 8 p.m. after polls closed in the state, NBC News called the race for Shaheen with solid returns in many of the communities where polls closed at 7 p.m. Not long after that, Sununu was declared the winner by the Associated Press. About 30 minutes later, Kuster was declared the winner in the 2nd Congressional District race.

Sununu thanked voters for having faith in his leadership to serve a third term. He called the support "overwhelming" and said the best days lie ahead.

"Our focus has always been to open doors of opportunity for individuals across this state and make New Hampshire an even better state," he said. "No matter the challenges we've faced over these past few months, Granite Staters have come together and delivered for our communities. I have no doubt that we will continue to do so. New Hampshire’s best days lie ahead."

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Feltes said he called to congratulate the governor and wished him success in the coming third term. While it was not the desired outcome his campaign worked so hard for, he was proud of the effort and grateful for the support.

"Our team, our volunteers, and our supporters represent the very best of the Granite State," Feltes said. "And it was the honor of my life to be your nominee for governor. As Justice Brandeis said, there is no more important role in our democracy than that of citizen. And let's be clear; campaigns don't end on Election Day, regardless of who wins. In many ways the campaigns on the issues and values we all believe begin after Election Day. The work continues, it must; and we need you to continue to raise the issues and values that matter to you, your family, and our communities. That's how we come together and move forward together, especially right now."

Darryl Perry, L-Manchester, was also on the ballot.

For most of the race, polling had Feltes trailing by wide margins as he campaigned on expanding opportunity for working families but was bedeviled by a paid family medical leave plan that included a 0.05 percent payroll tax that required everyone to opt-out of the plan. Republicans labeled the proposal an income tax. Late in the race, Feltes turned negative, attempting to hang the governor on his support for President Donald Trump. While some were critical of Sununu's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, many others praised him for being cautious while also not shutting the state down completely for months at a time.

Shaheen was challenged by Republican Bryant "Corky" Messner, an attorney from Colorado who only moved to the state recently, declaring residency at a vacation home in Wolfeboro. He was targeted throughout the campaign by Democrats as a "carpetbagger." Justin O'Donnell, an insurance sales consultant and author, a Libertarian, trailed far behind both candidates in early returns.

Kuster won a fifth term after being challenged again by Steven Negron, a Nashua Republican who also ran and won the GOP nomination two years ago. Andrew Olding is the Libertarian candidate trailed far behind the other two.

Early Wednesday, the 1st Congressional District race was called for U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, who was running for a second term in the House against a surprisingly strong challenge from Matt Mowers, a former Trump Administration official who also was an aide to Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey, where he originally lived before moving to the state to lead the NH GOP in 2013. Zachary Dumont, the Libertarian, a councilor and rental agent, is also on the ballot.

Mowers offered his congratulations to Pappas on his victory and wished him well heading back to Congress and also thanked voters for casting ballots for him and every person he met during the race.

"Now that the campaign is behind us, I hope that Congress gets to work. Small businesses need critical relief, middle class families need economic opportunity and our first responders need our support," he said. "I am grateful to all of my supporters, whose enthusiasm energized me every day on the campaign trail and allowed us to run a strong race that presented the voters with a clear choice. From day one, this race has always been about standing with those who feel forgotten by Washington politicians, whether it's our law enforcement community or middle-class families trying to make ends meet. I will never stop fighting for them or our Live Free or Die values."

Voters also made decisions on five Executive Council seats, state Senate, state representative, and county races throughout the state. Concord also cast ballots for four board of education seats.

In the Executive Council races, with around 70 percent of the votes counted, Republican Joseph Kenney, a past District 1 executive council, had a 1,000 vote lead against Michael Cryans, the Democrat incumbent.

In District 2, Democrat Cinde Warmington had a 16,000 vote lead over Jim Beard, the Republican, and declared victory late Tuesday night for the open seat vacated by Andru Volinsky.

"I'm excited and honored to have earned the trust of District 2 voters and for the opportunity to serve you on the Executive Council," she said. "This campaign has been an incredible journey, and I can't express enough gratitude for the countless people who supported us with their votes, their time, their treasure, their outreach to their networks, and so much more. Votes will continue to come in for races across New Hampshire and the country. Tomorrow and in the days and weeks to come, we'll see the direction our country will head in. I believe that optimism, hope, and decency will prevail."

In District 3, Janet Stevens, the Republican, had a 4,600 vote lead over Mindi Messmer, with about 70 percent of the vote counted.

At post time, with 73 percent of the vote counted, incumbent Republican Ted Gatsas had a nearly 12,000 vote lead over Mark Mackenzie, the Democrat.

And in the District 5, the race is too close to call. With nearly 60 percent of the vote counted, David Wheeler, the Republican and a past executive councilor, had a 1,000 vote lead over Debora Pignatelli, the Democrat incumbent.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the longest serving secretary in the nation, said he expected more than 800,000 people to vote, a conservative estimate but the most ever, after more than 300,000 voters requested absentee ballots.

During the final days of the campaign, President Donald Trump held a final round of outdoor and airport hangar rallies while Vice President Joe Biden organized more intimate events around the country with both campaigns also sending surrogates to swing states to get out the final votes. Jo Jorgensen, the libertarian candidate, was also on the ballot, and Howie Hawkins, of the Green Party, was on some state ballots. His write-in votes will be counted here.

Andrew Mahaleris, the deputy communications director for Maine and New Hampshire for the Trump-Pence effort, said the campaign made more than 2.4 million voter contacts in the state and had tens of thousands of volunteers working in all of the state's 10 counties.

"Trump Victory’s permanent, data-driven ground game cannot be matched by Joe Biden's anemic efforts in the Granite State," he said. "New Hampshire will deliver four electoral votes for President Trump."

Ray Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said the party had made 3.3 million voter contacts since June and said past "decisive" victories would not allow Republican "deliberate disinformation and voter suppression scheme" to prevail.

"While our 2020 campaign may look a little different than previous years, we've still been doing the hard work behind the scenes," he said, "reaching out to voters and having important conversations about health care, about the future of our planet, about women's rights — conversations that have convinced thousands of independents to vote early and vote a full Democratic ticket."

Kate Giaquinto, the director of communications for the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office, said the org received 230 calls to the election hotline as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"The majority of the calls were routine and issues were resolved quickly," she said. "There were 100 people deployed to polling locations across the state who have been helping to identify and address issues as they arise."

The AG's Office is encouraging the reporting of any issues to the AG’s election hotline: 1-866-868-3703.

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Got a news tip? Send it to tony.schinella@patch.com. View videos on Tony Schinella's YouTube channel. Follow the New Hampshire Patch Politics Twitter account @NHPatchPolitics for all our campaign coverage.

This article originally appeared on the Concord Patch

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