State Senate GOP nominee sick, drops out

·4 min read

Sep. 21—Michael Yakubovich of Hooksett, the Republican nominee in state Senate District 16, said Wednesday he is "very sick" and has dropped out of the race, and former state Rep. Keith Murphy, R-Manchester, has stepped in to take his place.

In a message on his website, Yakubovich, a two-term state representative, said he recently received an undisclosed "unexpected diagnosis" and immediately started receiving "aggressive treatment."

"While my family and I are hopeful for my recovery, these treatments have temporarily incapacitated me, and I am unable to continue with my campaign," he wrote on his website.

"After much consideration, my campaign and the state Republican party have together decided that (the) Hon. Keith Murphy of Manchester is best suited to replace me on the ballot in November."

State election law permits the state party to replace any nominee who is unable to campaign because of "age, domicile, or incapacitating physical or mental disability" that develops after a primary.

This has left this race with two candidates who didn't originally intend to run for the seat.

Incumbent Sen. Kevin Cavanaugh, D-Manchester, is leaving the seat to run for the Executive Council against Councilor Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester.

Republican legislative leaders redrew the map for Cavanaugh's district, making it much more GOP-leaning.

The changes removed wards in Manchester, Bow and Dunbarton.

In their place, lawmakers added the Republican-dominated towns of Goffstown and Raymond.

Yakubovich won the GOP primary last week by a convincing margin over state Rep. Barbara Griffin, R-Goffstown, who had chaired the House Redistricting and Election Laws Committee.

Manchester showdown

No Democrat had signed up to run for the seat, but voters nominated Manchester Alderman-at-Large June Trisciani, who waged a write-in campaign during the final weeks of the primary.

"One of the reasons New Hampshire is a great place to live is because of the strong public servants who take time away from family to serve our great state. Anyone who serves or runs for elected office deserves accolades for it," Trisciani said in a statement.

"Rep. Yakubovich served his community in the House, and I thank him for his dedication to our state and send my thoughts to his family during this difficult time and hope for a full recovery."

Political observers still view the seat as the GOP's best hope of picking up a Democratic seat; Republicans now hold a 14-10 majority in the Senate.

Murphy, 47, owns the Murphy's Taproom in Manchester and Murphy's Taproom & Carriage House in Bedford.

During his eight years in the House of Representatives, Murphy served the last two terms on the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee, including a stint as the ranking Republican while Democrats were in the majority during 2017-18.

"As a father and a small businessman, I know firsthand the struggles of families and businesses across the Granite State," Murphy said on a campaign website that's just been set up.

"Our neighbors are concerned about where our state — and our nation — are headed: runaway inflation, a struggling economy, soaring energy costs, shortages at the stores, a growing housing crisis, and crushing business taxes have average Granite Staters worried about our futures."

Murphy said he would press to further cut business tax rates, oppose any and all tax increases, work to expand the state's school choice program and pursue ways to bring down high energy costs.

GOP State Chairman Stephen Stepanek had suggested Murphy be the replacement. They served together in the House.

"I know he will make Michael and his family very proud," Stepanek said.

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said voters will reject Murphy.

"We certainly wish Rep. Yakubovich well with regards to his health concerns. The decision to run Keith Murphy as a replacement is a disaster for the N.H. GOP and the people of Senate District 16," Buckley said.

Yakubovich said he intends to stay involved.

"I appreciate your prayers for my recovery. I remain dedicated to the cause of liberty and will continue to do everything in my power to advance our shared ideals," he said.

Many colleagues took to social media to wish Yakubovich well and congratulate him on a successful primary campaign.

"My thoughts are with my friend @michael4nh, praying for his full recovery. Keith Murphy is a fantastic choice to represent Senate Dist. 16," said Ross Connolly, deputy state director of Americans for Prosperity.

klandrigan@unionleader.com