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O’Brien re-elected; N.H. House will have fewer Republicans

Austin Vanacore, sitting on his father John Vanacore's shoulders, peeks over the voting booth at the West Street Ward House on Tuesday afternoon, November 6, 2012. 

(JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff)

Austin Vanacore, sitting on his father John Vanacore's shoulders, peeks over the voting booth at the West Street Ward House on Tuesday afternoon, November 6, 2012. (JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

Republican House Speaker Bill O’Brien was re-elected yesterday, but he’ll preside over a House with fewer Republican members.

O’Brien won his hometown of Mont Vernon but lost the other town in the district, New Boston. He finished second to Democrat David Woodbury in the four-person race for two seats.

The defeated Republicans yesterday included the House majority leader, a powerful committee chair and the representative who drew the controversial new voting districts.

Heavy voting throughout the state meant for slow returns last night. Although it was clear the Republicans lost ground in the House to the Democrats, it was unclear how many seats the Democrats gained. Republicans hold a 3:1 majority in the current House.

Among the defeated House members was Rep. Jon Richardson, an Allenstown Republican who voted with his party on right-to-work legislation and budget cuts. But he was also targeted by opponents for missing just over 50 percent of House votes this year because of his full-time job.

Richardson lost his seat to Alan Turcotte, a retired state Department of Transportation employee.

“I have enjoyed serving Allenstown,” Richardson said last night. “I wish Alan the best and I will enjoy the extra time with my young children and amazing wife.”

Two Laconia Republicans lost their seats: Rep. Robert Kingsbury and Rep. Harry Accornero. Both made national news this year, Kingsbury for proposing the state return to Magna Carta rule and Accornero for insisting President Obama is not a “natural born” American citizen.

Former House member Beth Arsenault and retired district court judge David Huot, both Democrats, took their seats.

House Majority Leader Pete Silva lost his seat in Nashua. O’Brien named Silva to the post this spring after former majority leader D.J. Bettencourt resigned for faking a law school internship.

Rep. Stephen Stepanek, an Amherst Republican, lost his seat too. He was O’Brien’s chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

There was no sitting on pins and needles for most of Concord’s House candidates.

Incumbents June Frazer, Jim MacKay, Rick Watrous, all Concord Democrats, and Steve Shurtleff, a Penacook Democrat, ran unopposed. So did newcomer Jane Hunt, a Concord Democrat.

Rep. Candace Bouchard, a Democrat serving her seventh term, and Rep. Dick Patten, a first-term Democrat, easily beat their Republican challengers, Kevin Moore and Chris Wood, respectively.

Katherine Rogers, a former House member and former county attorney, beat Republican Al Jones.

Redistricting gave Concord a new seat, and it went to Democrat Christy Bartlett, who defeated Ken Georgevits.

The newly drawn districts also combined Concord’s Ward 5 and Hopkinton into a single district with three seats. They went to two Democratic incumbents, Rep. Mary Jane Wallner of Concord and Rep. Gary Richardson of Hopkinton, and to Democratic newcomer Mel Myler.

In the Bow and Dunbarton district, Rep. JR Hoell of Dunbarton, who led this year’s efforts to loosen gun restrictions, held onto his seat. The other two seats in that district went to former House member Mary Beth Walz and Concord firefighter Chris Andrews, both of whom live in Bow.

Hoell was surprised to see so many members of his party lose their seats. “I don’t understand how after the Republicans in our state were such fiscally responsible representatives, we can see such an overwhelming tide,” he said.

As of midnight, there were no officials results for the Canterbury and Loudon seats. Republican Rep. Priscilla Lockwood, a moderate from Canterbury, and Democrat newcomer Howard Moffett, won Canterbury, but the Loudon returns were not available, so it was unclear whether Republican Rep. Kenneth Kreis Sr., a conservative from Canterbury, lost his seat.

Results were still pending for the race between Democrat Lorrie Carey of Boscawen and Republican Jason Parent of Northfield. The race between Rep. Jenn Coffey, an Andover Republican and Free Stater, and Democrat Mario Ratzki, was also undetermined by deadline.

Warner Selectman Clyde Carson, a Democrat, beat his Republican challenger, Susan Olson. Rep. Dan McGuire, an Epsom Republican and Free Stater, held onto his seat, but returns were not available for his wife, Rep. Carol McGuire. They were running in separate districts.

Also defeated yesterday was the father-and-son team of Lee and Matt Quandt, Republicans from Exeter. Lee Quandt said they were victims of redistricting because they kept Exeter but lost their more Republican-leaning towns.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)

Let's start with this....I do not and did not like Bill O'Brien and I thought that the legislators in 2012 blustered and handled many things in ways where they set themselves up for criticism. That being said, the Monitor dogged the legislature for two years after giving the Norelli regime a free ride and praise for all of the years they were in power. The Monitor editors and publisher must be gloating today, their people are back in power. Time will tell, however if Felice, Winnie-Miller and the gang of reporters so similar that they could be dancers in the new Jordache commercial featuring Heidi Klum, will cover the legislative agenda and give readers a fair hearing or if they will play down things that Norelli et al will sneak in. I am sure that red swimming caps and ridiculous social agenda bills will rear their ugly heads. The most disturbing thing is that in 2010 the legislature and Senate swung to the hard right and now it has swung to the hard Left with new members like Jane Hunt, an extreme progressive who often pens vicious letters to the editor right here in the Monitor. Colin Van Ostern is setting himself up for higher office with a win in the executive council and he is so far to the Left that he leans when he walks. Again, an extremist replaced an extremist. More disturbing are his ties to the Hirschberg empire of Stonyfield Farms. Republicans can learn from Democrats and create the same "through thick and thin" tactics of sticking together as a band of mixed philosophies. Norelli now has the task of taking a surplus or close to it and managing that, not turning it into a deficit. Hassan now has the task of negotiating with the SEIU / SEA and not giving away the farm or building more state payroll boondoggles with overstaffed and bloated agencies. Time will tell, the pendulum as swung Left coming back fast from 2010. My guess is that if Republicans stay on track and play it smart, they can come back strong in 2014. Voters rejected this bunch once, this is their second chance. If the Monitor covers the "news" rather than carries the water for them, voters will be better served. Time will tell.

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