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BREAKING NEWS: Democrat Maggie Hassan wins N.H. governor’s race over Ovide Lamontagne

Maggie Hassan ; Wednesday, August 22, 2012. 

( Alexander Cohn/ Monitor staff)

Maggie Hassan ; Wednesday, August 22, 2012. ( Alexander Cohn/ Monitor staff)

Former state Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan will keep New Hampshire governor’s seat in Democratic control after she beat Republican Ovide Lamontagne, an opponent she said was too extreme for the state.

With today’s win, Hassan is in line to succeed John Lynch, the governor since 2005 who served four two-year terms and is retiring.

Hassan’s campaign stressed the need to repair damage done by the Republican Legislature in its last budget, particularly by restoring deep cuts to public colleges and the state’s hospitals. She said the way to grow the economy is to invest in education so business has the workforce it needs.

Lamontagne had claimed Hassan was a tax-and-spend liberal who would grow government.

Both Hassan, 54, of Exeter, and Lamontagne, 55, of Manchester, are business attorneys and campaigned on the need to grow the economy and jobs.

Hassan argued education was the key and said she would reverse the $50 million in annual cuts the Legislature made to the University System of New Hampshire in the last budget. She would help pay for the aid by raising the cigarette tax and hiring auditors to ensure businesses pay their taxes.

She also would double the state’s business research and development tax credit.

Lamontagne proposed cutting the state’s tax on business profits from 8.5 percent to 8 percent over two years by finding spending to cut to offset the loss of an estimated $27 million in revenue. He also proposed new tax credits to help business and promised to ease regulations.

Lamontagne proudly touted his conservatism and embraced support from New Hampshire’s loosely organized Tea Party as matching his views of limited government and low taxes. He took New Hampshire’s traditional pledge to veto a personal income or general sales tax. The state has neither.

Lamontagne argued Hassan would support an income or sales tax — despite her pledge to also veto them. He promised not to raise taxes a single dime.

Hassan criticized Lamontagne for promising to spend more money on services for the disabled and hospital aid without saying where he would make cuts to pay for the spending.

Lamontagne, a Catholic, strongly opposes abortion and gay marriage, though he did not emphasize his support for imposing limits on abortion or repealing New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law in his campaign. He supports replacing gay marriage with civil unions for heterosexual and same-sex couples but doesn’t support invalidating existing same-sex marriages. He also supports exempting religious organizations from contraceptive mandates in insurance coverage.

Hassan highlighted her support for the rights of workers to unionize, for women to have access to abortions and birth control and for gays to marry. Hassan was instrumental in the Senate passing the state’s law legalizing same-sex unions in 2009. An effort to repeal it fell short this year.

Both supported a limited expansion of gambling. He would allow one high-end casino at Rockingham Park, a horse track in Salem, while she would consider one or two casinos based on a bidding process.

The race was Hassan’s first try for governor and Lamontagne’s second bid. He lost to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, now a U.S. senator, in 1996. He also ran unsuccessful campaigns for Congress in 1992 and U.S. Senate in 2010.

Hassan lost her first bid for state Senate in 2002, but won the seat in the following election. She was defeated during a Republican sweep in 2010.

John Babiarz, a libertarian from Grafton, also sought the office.

A steady flow of voters kept many polling places busy today, a battleground state for the presidency. Voters turned out early, braving the cold to weigh in on the fate of New Hampshire’s four electoral votes in a tight race between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

They also were deciding close races for two congressional seats and were casting ballots for 400 state House seats and 24 state Senate seats.

Democrat Ann McLane Kuster and Republican Rep. Charles Bass were vying in the 2nd Congressional District in northern and western New Hampshire, while Republican Rep. Frank Guinta and Democrat Carol Shea-Porter were running in the 1st District in southeastern New Hampshire. Both races were rematches of 2010.

Both parties predicted Democratic gains in the Statehouse. In the House, there are 288 Republicans to 102 Democrats with 10 vacancies. There are 18 Republicans and five Democrats in the Senate, with one vacancy.

Voters also were being asked to vote on two proposed constitutional amendments.

Legacy Comments3

God help us. Taking a line from Michelle Obama (in a way). Looking at the State of New Hampshire, I have never been more ashamed of my state in my adult lifetime. Truly, between the slanted coverage at the Monitor and the influx of people coming here and bringing the same traits which ruined their home states, never learning by experience and repeating the same social mistakes over and over again.......has stained this state irreparably. To conservatives, Tea Partiers, Republicans, in two years we get to repeat this all over again. With the Elizabeth Warren win in Massachusetts as well, what does that say about the character of her supporters. They elected a liar, a person who used federal preferences to further her career and education. My guess is that is related to the continuing decay of our society, its morals and ethics. I would think with all the wealth of Hassan, she would do something about those teeth. For about $5000 she could have a million dollar smile.

I guess for a declared Independent voter you seem a little "Conservative" to me. Is this the best you have ? How about "the candidates message to the people?" Your candidates lost but they put up the good fight and I thank them for representing your Republican Party during the campaign. I think Mr. Lamontagne's concession speech was sour grapes, too bad that he, as you, are poor losers when the country needs to pull together as your other candidate, Mitt Romney, has asked his supporters to do. I still appreciate your opinion though. When is your cohort, Sail, going to make his appearance on here?

Lamontagne's concession speech was not what I expected. I remember when he ran back in the 80's he was much more inspirational and the last thing he said was something like: "one more thing, please go out and take down the lawn signs, etc. but put them in your garages and be ready to use them again". Not so polished in this case. I am not a poor loser. Unlike you, my two children are not grown up and out of the house. I am your age and still will be funding 8 years of college. Personally, I could not afford another 5% in income taxes paid into the state government. This is about families, security of our children and allowing our children to have the same quality of life that we have enjoyed. I am also disturbed by the size of the ranks of state employees from HHS to DES to DOT, all populated with complete families and relatives and all doing minimal work for healthy paychecks at 37 hours per week. Hassan will grow that like crazy if given the opportunity. This year it was revealed, two long term state employees blogged at all times during the day on this site and others for over 5 years; at work on our dime. They used state equipment. My tax dollars and your tax dollars pay their salaries. What happened? The Monitor refused to cover it and they blogged on their site. They were reprimanded but they still hold the same positions. In other words, that is how a Democrat government treated them, with a slap on the back and a hardee-har-har. I resent that and it will continue under Hassan appointees. Charity starts at home, not at the whim of people who think that they have a better idea of how you should spend your money. With Democrats they have a program for everything under the sun. Life today is consumed by politics and fighting between folks about the approach. It needs to be about living, not waiting to live until everyone feels whole. And if you think that property taxes will come down with an income tax.....born and brought up here I have lived elsewhere and in every state that is never the case. This is not about what is fair it is about ideology and fully half of the population do not agree with the other half. Hassan will have to compromise. Gridlock will kill our Constitutional Republic. Sorry if you see my concern for my family, retirement, home as "sour grapes", it is a concern to provide a better life for my family. It seems like Democrats just don't want people to pursue the American Dream or perhaps not without somehow being penalized.

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