Kuster re-elected to third term in U.S. House

  • U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster greets staffers after voting at Hopkinton High School on Tuesday morning. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Representative Annie Kuster votes at Hopkinton high school Tuesday morning. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jim Lawrence speaks to supporters Tuesday night. Tue CAITLIN ANDREWS / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster has won a third term in the 2nd Congressional District.

The race was called for the Hopkinton resident by the Associated Press shortly after 12:30 a.m.

“The issues that we’re working on mean a great deal to New Hampshire families,” she told a crowd of about 20 supporters and staffers at the Jenkins School of Art in Concord just after midnight, before the race had been called. “From the opioid epidemic to veterans to the work that we’re doing every day for seniors to keeping college affordable and creating good jobs.”

With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Kuster had clinched 50 percent of the vote. Her Republican challenger, former three-term state representative Jim Lawrence of Hudson, had 46 percent of the vote.

In Nashua, before the race was called, Lawrence thanked his supporters for sticking with him through the long night, citing the work of his campaign as the reason for the close race.

“I don’t think anyone thought we would be here tonight,” he said.

But Lawrence said at 12:20 a.m. that it was time to let towns finish counting their votes.

“We will anxiously await their results in the morning,” he said.

Kuster first won her seat in 2012, beating Republican incumbent Charlie Bass. She handily won re-election in 2014 against Republican challenger Marilinda Garcia.

With a substantial lead in the polls for the entire campaign and an elections war chest that dwarfed Lawrence’s meager fundraising, Kuster was heavily favored to win. Many wondered if Lawrence could pull votes from the middle against a moderate Democrat in a purple district that is believed to increasingly lean blue.

Kuster’s edge as a generally popular incumbent was also sharpened by a succession of reports that called into question Lawrence’s business background and financial history.

At Kuster’s election night party, a crowd of supporters sipped wine and beer as they watched election results roll in from across the state and the country, hooting loudly as some early states were called for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

But the crowd of roughly 100 eventually dwindled to just a little over a dozen. And the room grew quiet as Kuster’s wide lead in early returns narrowed – with Lawrence at one point overtaking her by more than 1,000 votes – and as leads narrowed for Democrats across the state and the country.

David Breton, a registered Republican, on Tuesday cast his ballot for Kuster at the Three Rivers School in Pembroke. He also split his ticket to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson for president and Democrat Colin Van Ostern for governor, mostly because he said couldn’t stomach the Republicans running for those positions.

But he voted for Kuster because as a member of the National Guard, he’d noticed her or somebody from her office at every deployment.

“I’ve met her several times. I like her. She supports the military,” he said.

The 2nd Congressional District stretches from northern New Hampshire across the western part of the state, and includes both Concord and Nashua.

(Caitlin Andrews contributed to this report. Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)