Yvonne Dean-Bailey ekes out victory in well-attended special election for state rep

Last modified: 5/20/2015 6:01:03 PM
Yvonne Dean-Bailey, the 19-year-old Republican candidate for Rockingham County’s 32nd House district, eked out a victory in her first-ever election yesterday.

The former intern for U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and former field organizer for former U.S. House candidate Marilinda Garcia won three of four towns in the solidly Republican floterial district covering Candia, Deerfield, Northwood and Nottingham.

The well-attended special election was called after Republican Brian Dobson, the winner of the November election, immediately resigned his post in January to take a position handling veterans’ affairs for U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta.

Dean-Bailey won 52 percent of the 2,589 votes cast, according to counts circulated online by people at the polls. The Monitor was able to independently confirm three of four towns’ results with town clerks last night.

Saying she was “absolutely shocked” by the unusually high number of people who turned out to vote yesterday, Dean-Bailey thanked her supporters and said she eagerly awaited her chance to represent them in Concord.

“That was nowhere near the turnout I thought it was going to be,” she said. “It just shows that people are excited to have their voices heard up on the state level.”

State Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn in a statement congratulated Dean-Bailey on “running an outstanding campaign that focused on New Hampshire principles of lower taxes and limited government.”

“Voters chose Yvonne because she campaigned on a pledge to fight Governor Maggie Hassan’s reckless fiscal policies that will put our state on a path toward an income tax. Her election is a victory for taxpayers and a stinging rebuke of Governor Hassan’s misplaced priorities and her disastrous tax-and-spend agenda,” she said.

The statement is reflective of the tone the election took, as it fell in the early part of the first-in-the-nation primary season and became a referendum on the parties at large. Ayotte went door-knocking with Dean-Bailey, and presidential hopefuls Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, and former Texas governor Rick Perry campaigned for her. Marco Rubio, the U.S. Senator from Florida, tweeted in advance of the election to get out the vote, and former New York governor George Pataki tweeted congratulations in the moments after Republicans announced victory last night.

In the days ahead of the election, a man who was booted from Democratic challenger Maureen Mann’s campaign took responsibility for an email hoax that was circulated to reporters; it purported to be from Dean-Bailey, announcing that she was conceding the election to focus on her studies. The perpetrator, Carl Gibson, said he “probably had one too many beers” and thought he was playing a prank that wouldn’t be taken seriously. After his identity was almost immediately uncovered, outraged Republicans filed election law complaints and rallied around Dean-Bailey.

Dean-Bailey is a college student, and formerly attended Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. She is transferring to the University of New Hampshire this fall.

Mann is a retired high school teacher who won a special election in 2007 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2012.

Whereas special elections typically draw low voter turnouts, the roughly 20 percent turnout yesterday impressed town clerks. For example, in Northwood, during a special election in 2007, 281 votes were cast. Yesterday, 619 votes were cast.

Democrats outside Deerfield Town Hall noted that, according to data compiled by WMUR last year, Candia is the town in New Hampshire with the third-highest percentage of registered Republican voters, and Deerfield is the fifth. The group, huddled together on the opposite side of a pair of bushes from the Republican pack, said it felt the district could go to Republicans as voters heeded party principles rather than candidates’ individual accomplishments. Mann, throughout her campaign, touted accomplishments specific to individuals in her towns: giving abutters control of a dam at Jenness Pond in Northwood and getting a traffic signal installed at a dangerous intersection.

Mal Cameron of Deerfield said that’s what representatives in the state’s 400-person Legislature are supposed to do, contrary to the rhetoric.

“They’re touted as if this one person is going to control the whole future of the state of New Hampshire,” he said. “I think they’re just missing the point.”

On the other side of the bushes, Nancy Kindler of Epping said Dean-Bailey had voters excited. She said Dean-Bailey – who argued for local control of education and expanding the economy – is better in touch with the feelings of the voters in her district.

“I think Yvonne is what’s bringing people out,” she said as voters filed past her on the way into the town hall.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325 or nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickBReid.)


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