In Franklin, far-right candidates prevailed over Sununu’s endorsements

  • Ed Prive points to State Rep. Kenna Cross and points out that she is the future while outside Franklin Middle School. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Ed Prive says State Representative Kenna Cross is the future outside the Franklin Middle School on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Ed Prive says State Representative Kenna Cross (left) is the future outside the Franklin Middle School on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • State Representative Kenna Cross with her dog, Tucker, outside the Franklin Middle School as sign holder Ed Prive talks on voting day, Tuesday, September 13, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Ed Prive outside the Franklin Middle School polling place on Tuesday, September 13, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • State Representative Kenna Cross (center) greets a voter with her dog, Tucker, outside the Franklin Middle School on voting day, Tuesday, September 13, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/14/2022 6:28:24 PM

Trish Jorgensen used to pick politicians on both sides of the ballot in general elections. She’d go through each candidate, focus on policy issues she liked and look up their voting records.

Now, she’s all in for the Republican Party, she said, standing outside the polls in Franklin on Tuesday. Jorgensen was proudly campaigning for two candidates she believed to hold strong Republican values – her daughter Kenna Cross, who ran for state representative in Franklin and Northfield, and Karen Testerman, a conservative candidate for governor.

She didn’t speak so highly about every Republican candidate on the ballot — in particular, Gov. Chris Sununu.

“What’s wrong with Sununu?” she laughed. “What isn’t wrong with Sununu?”

Down the ballot Tuesday, more conservative Republicans like Don Bolduc and Bob Burns earned their party’s nomination in the Senate and 2nd Congressional District over more moderate rivals.

Promises of balanced budgets and lower taxes from Chuck Morse and George Hansel — both endorsed by Sununu — fell to assurances to “Make America Great Again.”

Bolduc and Burns, alongside Karoline Levitt’s win in the 1st Congressional District, cement Trump’s grip on the party’s nominations in the Granite State. All three candidates confidently said Trump was the rightful victor of the 2020 election.

Tuesday’s results show that Bolduc and Burns did even better in Franklin — an old mill town where income and education levels are lower than the rest of the state. Statewide, Bolduc carried 37% of the Republican votes, but in Franklin, he received 45%. In the 2nd District, Burns collected about 33% of the votes, but in the Three Rivers City, he got 40% of the votes.

Franklin is one of the state’s smallest cities with about 8,700 residents, where the median household income of $57,992, is $20,000 below the state’s median. In 2020 and 2016 Trump won 55% of the vote.

One indicator of preference within the Republican Party can be education attainment levels, according to Dante Scala, an associate professor of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire. In Franklin, where 18.5% of residents over the age of 25 have a Bachelor’s degree, voters lean even more to the right.

“Whether you are working-class Republicans without a college degree versus professional Republicans with higher socioeconomic status with a college degree, I think that’s one of the very key things and I think it drove a lot of the vote,” Scala said.

Some Franklin residents, like Ed Prive, said they vote from personal conviction.

Prive, who has lived in the city with his wife and two sons since 2006, flirted with Democratic politics in the past. He is proud to say he voted for Barack Obama twice and Bill Clinton in the ’90s.

But when one of his sons, Nick, came home injured from his second tour in Afghanistan after he volunteered to serve in the aftermath of 9/11, Prive felt Democratic leadership in the state let him down.

His son, who is disabled now, was at a veterans hospital outside of Washington D.C., for a year upon his return. Prive said he called the offices of the state’s Congressional delegation and no one called him back. He stewed and felt betrayed.

Now his politics are more personal. He’s concerned about support for veterans, as well as mental health issues.

“We lose 22 veterans a day to suicide,” he said.

Prive said he supports fundamental United States freedoms — the right to own a gun, the right to life, respect for all citizens.

“That’s our history. The United States will always have to fight for our freedom,” he said. “I am very grateful for this country. At the end of the month, at 72, I would put on a uniform if they asked me to.”

Now the part-time U.S. Postal Service worker picks his candidates on a policy basis. On Tuesday, he stood outside Franklin Middle School campaigning for Paul Halvorsen for County Attorney, Vikram Mansharamani for U.S. Senate and Trish Jorgensen’s daughter Kenna Cross for state rep.

The three things the candidates had in common was a commitment to mental health, he said.

Cross stood alongside Prive at the polls with her yellow Labrador Tucker greeting voters. When polls closed, though, she was unsuccessful in her re-election campaign, losing to Jason Gerhard, a Republican candidate endorsed by the national political action committee, Make America Win.

Cross first ran for office in 2020 after a state house seat was vacant in her district.

Jorgensen convinced her daughter to run, feeling she was more connected to the community given she went to the local high school in town and was involved in Old Home Day.

For Jorgensen, it was Sununu’s actions as governor that drew her closer to the far-right of the Republican Party.

The final straw for Jorgensen was when Sununu allowed a non-binary option for gender on drivers licenses in 2019.

“Just because he’s got an R in front of his name doesn’t mean he’s a Republican,” she said.


Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.

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