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Hosmer beats Youssef in race for state Senate in District 7

Democrat Andrew Hosmer claimed victory last night in a heated race against Republican Josh Youssef for the state Senate in District 7, earning decisive margins in Laconia, where they both live, and in Franklin, Belmont, Boscawen, Gilford and Canterbury.

But because vote totals were so slow to trickle in last night, it was hard to predict what other seats Democrats – who have been in the minority this past term with just five senators – may have gained. Democratic leaders were optimistic they would pick up a significant number of seats but as of midnight weren’t sure how the final tallies would play out.

Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen, a Concord Democrat, said there could be an even or near-even split between Democrats and Republicans, depending in part on a tight race between New Boston Democrat Lee Nyquist and Bedford Republican Andy Sanborn in District 9.

“The good thing is the Senate is dramatically better in balance,” said Larsen, who easily won re-election over Warner Republican Lydia Dube Harman in District 15, earning 72 percent of the vote with nearly as many precincts reporting.

“There will be more compromise, more consensus, and more working with each other,” Larsen said. She said voters want bipartisanship, and “I think having our numbers more equalized will make that happen.”

In District 7, Hosmer, the general manager of AutoServ in Tilton, led Youssef, the owner of Same Day Computer, by 12,838 to 9,006, with 82 percent of precincts reporting by midnight.

After a contentious campaign involving controversial political mailers and websites created in opposition to both candidates, Hosmer called the win “very gratifying.”

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support I’ve received in all of the communities,” he said. “I certainly look forward to putting the campaign season behind us, and working on issues that unite us, as opposed to” those that divide.

During the campaign, the Monitor reported that Youssef, who recently went through a bitter public divorce and custody battle, owed back child support payments and had failed to pay federal income taxes for several years.

The Monitor also reported on a debate between Youssef and Hosmer and quoted Youssef as saying victims of domestic violence “need to be educated so they stop returning to a violent ‘lifestyle.’ ” The state Democratic Party later sent a mailer out with that quote – along with a picture of a battered woman and the words “Josh Youssef thinks domestic abuse . . . is her fault.” Youssef has threatened to sue.

“There was a lot of bad publicity about Youssef, and you really could not figure out who was lying,” said Judith Learned, 67, of Laconia, who voted for Hosmer but picked Republicans – including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne – in other major races.

In other local races, Republican State Rep. John Reagan of Deerfield was leading Democrat Nancy Fraher in District 17, with 8,042 votes to Fraher’s 6,724. Those figures included Chichester, Deerfield, Epsom, Northwood, Pittsfield and Raymond, but were missing results from Loudon, Pembroke, Nottingham and Strafford.

Reagan, a three-term representative, campaigned on a pledge to keep government small, while Fraher, a retired teacher from Chichester, focused on education and promised to reinstate this Legislature’s budget cuts to the state’s universities and community colleges.

“Government at any level is seldom helpful but always costly,” Reagan wrote on his website. “You cannot believe in freedom and prosperity and also think government is something we benefit from.”

Local races that were too close to call included District 2, where incumbent Republican Sen. Jeanie Forrester of Meredith was squaring off against Holderness Democrat Bob Lamb, and District 16, where incumbent Republican David Boutin of Hooksett faced Democrat Kathleen Kelly of Manchester.

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