New Hampshire Republicans take time to celebrate November victories

  • Governor-elect Chris Sununu speaks during the New Hampshire GOP victory dinner at the Radisson Manchester Downtown Hotel on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • The New Hampshire GOP party held a victory dinner at the Radisson Manchester Downtown Hotel on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The mood was ebullient – and unified – at the Radisson hotel in Manchester on Wednesday night, where New Hampshire Republicans gathered for dinner to celebrate their sweeping November wins.

“You won the governorship. The state senate. The State House,” New Hampshire Republican Vice Chairman Matt Mayberry said as the cheers from a crowd of about 300 drowned him out.

But even as Republicans cheered their gains in New Hampshire – where the Legislature, governorship and Executive Council will all be controlled by the GOP come January – they noted their losses in Washington, where U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and First Congressional District Rep. Frank Guinta will not return in the new year after failing to clinch re-election.

“As we celebrate victory here tonight, we have to keep in mind that we didn’t win everything,” Hillsborough County Republican Chairman Mark Vincent said before reading a statement from Ayotte, who delivered her farewell address on the Senate floor Wednesday.

State Sen. Sharon Carson of Londonderry read a statement from Guinta, who was all but abandoned during his campaign by the state’s GOP after a campaign finance violation, to perfunctory applause.

Ayotte’s loss, on the other hand, would be returned to later in the night.

“No one in the U.S. Senate has worked harder for her constituents than Kelly Ayotte. Her loss is truly a great loss for our state and for the nation,” New Hampshire Republican Chairwoman Jennifer Horn said later in the evening to enthusiastic cheers from the audience.

Earlier on Wednesday, Republicans Shawn Jasper and Chuck Morse easily won re-election as New Hampshire House Speaker and Senate president, respectively, offering a display of GOP unity heading into the new two-year session.

Jasper’s strong victory in particular stands in contrast to the intra-party disputes that bedeviled House Republicans over the past two years. When Governor-elect Chris Sununu is sworn in come January, the GOP will fully control the State House for the first time in a dozen years.

And Republicans plan to use those majorities, Sununu, the night’s closing speaker, told the crowd.

“We have the opportunity to do the things that we’ve wanted to do for the past 10 years,” Sununu said. “Constitutional carry. Right to work. Education reform. Election law reform. These are the things that need to be done, and that are going to make the difference in our state.”

But Sununu also encouraged his party to consider that “our style is as important as our substance.”

After the rancorous presidential and Senate elections, people were “disgusted with the campaigns, with politics. We have the opportunity to show them how to do it better. We have the opportunity to lead by example.”

He continued: “2018 is going to be tough. There’s no doubt about it. Midterm elections have always been very good to Republicans. And they can still be. But we have to earn it. We’re in the driver’s seat. But believe you me, if we’re not careful, it will be a very short ride.”

(This report included materials from the Associated Press. Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)