Annie Kuster elected to fourth term in U.S. House of Representatives 

  • U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster greets supporters as she arrives to vote at Hopkinton High School on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) waves to supporters as she leaves the Hopkinton High School voting area in Contoocook, New Hampshire on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster greets supporters as she comes in to vote at the Hopkinton High School voting area in Contoocook, New Hampshire on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) waves to supporters as she leaves the Hopkinton High School voting area in Contoocook, New Hampshire on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Annie Kuster greets supporters with her sister Robin at the Common Man in Concord on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/6/2018 10:42:49 PM

Suzi White knows the issues that matter to her the most: women’s rights, the environment and affordable health care.

Standing outside the polls in Boscawen on Tuesday wearing a pink baseball hat decorated with cat ears, White said she has stayed a loyal supporter of Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster because of her stance on those issues. Plus, she really likes her personality and dedication.

“The biggest thing I like about Annie is that, I ran into her at Best Buy and she was like, ‘Suzi, how are you?’ ” said White, who worked on Kuster’s first congressional campaign in 2012. “She’s a congresswoman, but she remembers who you are. She’s genuine.”

Many voters agreed: As other races remained close well into the night, three-term incumbent Kuster easily beat her opponent, Republican Steve Negron, by a 3-to-2 margin.

Two weeks before the election, Kuster held a double-digit lead over Negron, according to a University of New Hampshire poll.

Negron, a Nashua businessman and retired Air Force officer, was serving his first term in the state House of Representatives when he announced intentions to run for Kuster’s seat.

He beat out seven contenders for the Republican nomination during the primary in September, including Manchester VA whistleblower Stewart Levenson and veteran Lynne Blankenbeker.

During his campaign, he was an ardent supporter of small-business owners, fiscal conservatism and veterans’ programs.

He stressed his Hispanic heritage – Negron’s grandfather was from Mexico and his grandmother from Puerto Rico – and the need for more comprehensive immigration reform.

But even as Negron gained a swell of support from the Republican Party, his supporters were not confident in his chances against Kuster.

State Rep. Howard Pearl, who was holding signs outside Boscawen town hall Tuesday afternoon, said he had enjoyed working with Negron and thought he’d be a good fit for Congress. He also said he worried about Kuster’s reputation.

“He’s a great guy, but she’s got a lot of name recognition,” he said. “I hope he gets the job – he’d be very good at it – but it might not be his year.”

Kuster, a former attorney from Hopkinton, has sponsored a number of bills on veterans’ issues and the opioid epidemic during her six years in Congress. She has been a leader supporting victims of sexual violence while being open about her personal experience as a sexual assault survivor.

Maxine Petruccelli, who was voting in Webster on Tuesday, said she moved to New Hampshire this year and was impressed when she went to hear Kuster speak at an AARP-sponsored forum in Concord this month.

“She spoke well on the issues that were important to us,” Petruccelli said. “We’re very concerned about the environment and gun legislation in particular, and she seemed to understand that.”

In Hopkinton, Bill Palizzolo said he was hoping for Negron to be elected to continue President Donald Trump’s work of bringing business and jobs to the country. He said he enjoys the positive impact of Trump’s tax cuts, and hoped that Democrats wouldn’t get in the way.

“In my opinion, those big corporations who got the cuts said, ‘Okay, our taxes are low, let’s expand our business, let’s invest in our business, let’s hire more people,’ ” Palizzolo said. “They did that, and they got the economy going up. It’s not like they just took that money, pocketed all of it, and said, ‘To heck with everybody.’ They invested it – and the results are showing.

“We need as many Republicans in the Legislature as we can get to make sure that continues,” he added.

Susan Covert, a Democrat from Hopkinton, said she had been hearing about a lot of first-time or infrequent voters coming forward this election because they disagree: They think Trump’s policies are hurting the country and want to see change.

“I think people are really concerned with where our country is going right now,” she said. “This is an opportunity to use our voice to keep people in office who are doing good things for us.”

In her acceptance speech Tuesday night, Kuster thanked Negron for being a considerate competitor.

“I think people could see the distinction in our views and our values and the issues, but I really think they appreciated that we toned down the rhetoric and just gave them the positions straight up,” she said.

Negron asked his supporters to remember the message of his campaign going forward.

“We started this campaign 18 months ago about some things that are very important to us – not me – but to us. No matter what happens tonight, that candle – that light – will never be extinguished. ... It doesn’t matter what happened in any other state, but for us in this room, for those of you that supported me ... I want to say thank you because you believed in a message this campaign had.”

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