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Pappas edges out Edwards for Congress in a first for N.H.

  • Eddie Edwards, the Republican candidate in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, takes a picture with a supporter outside the polls at David R. Cawley Middle School in Hooksett on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (NICK STOICO / Monitor staff) NICK STOICO—Monitor staff

  • Democrat Chris Pappas celebrates winning New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District race at an election party in Manchester, N.H. Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter) Cheryl Senter

  • Democrat Chris Pappas celebrates winning New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District race at an election party in Manchester, N.H. Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter) Cheryl Senter

  • Supporters Emma Carole Paradis, left, and Kimberly Carole, right, react as the poll numbers start to come in showing Democrat Chris Pappas, running for 1st Congressional District seat, in the lead at the election night headquarters in Manchester, N.H. Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) Cheryl Senter

  • Republican Eddie Edwards, joined by his wife Cindy, concedes defeat in the 1st Congressional District, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

  • Republican Eddie Edwards, joined by his wife Cindy, concedes defeat in the 1st Congressional District, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

  • Republican Eddie Edwards, joined by his wife Cindy, concedes defeat in the 1st Congressional District, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm



Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Democrat Chris Pappas will become the state’s first openly gay congressman after defeating Eddie Edwards for the 1st Congressional District seat.

“I am humbled beyond words that the voters of the 1st Congressional District placed their trust in me today,” Pappas told supporters from his home turf at the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester on Tuesday night. “Voters in New Hampshire and all across the country are delivering a strong message. When America is faced with a challenge, we don’t’ give up. We don’t give into fear or anger. We persevere.”

Pappas, a member of the state’s Executive Council, said he was prepared to move beyond the partisan nature of Washington to serve Granite Staters’ interests.

“Voters are clearly saying that it’s time to reject the division, deception and partisanship of the past two years – and it’s time to put the focus back on making progress for Granite Staters once again,” he told a group of cheering supporters. “Whether you’re a Republican, independent, or Democrat; wherever you live, whatever your income, race or religion, and whomever you love – I will get up every day and work for all of you.”

In defeat, Edwards remained buoyant.

“Chris won tonight but we didn’t lose,” Edwards told supporters. “This is really about sending a message about what conservatism is all about. I’m very proud that we can deliver a message when we talk about human decency, unity, bringing our country together.”

The victory caps off a rollercoaster of a midterm election that sparked conversations about identity politics and outside election money in the Granite State.

The race to replace Rep. Carol Shea-Porter quickly became crowded, with over a dozen Democrats and Republicans throwing their hats into the ring.

Democrats wrestled with the polarizing issue of big money in politics and campaign finance reform throughout the primary, an issue that eventually defeated former Obama administration official Maura Sullivan.

The Republican race, meanwhile, was even more acrimonious as Edwards, who received the backing of President Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, sought to make the race about character and integrity – especially when it came to rival Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford.

Once the dust cleared, the race settled along party lines: Edwards, a former police chief and enforcement officer for the state liquor commission, called himself a “rock-ribbed” conservative who is “pro-2nd Amendment and pro-life” and someone who is “pro-tax cuts and pro-regulatory reform to help President Trump Make America Great Again!”

Contrast that with Pappas, who stressed compassionate government policies like paid family leave, raising the minimum wage, health care for all and affordable education.

If either candidate had won, he would have represented a first for New Hampshire, but that fact was approached differently by the candidates.

Whereas Pappas, who is gay, spoke candidly about the importance of representation, Edwards, who is black, repeatedly dismissed such conversations as divisive.

Voters were mostly focused on their candidates’ views on health care, immigration and the economy.

James Viverca, a Democrat, said he liked Pappas’s politics and the support he received from Planned Parenthood. He was frustrated by Trump’s environmental policies, particularly the rolling back of the Clean Water rule and country’s exit from the Paris Climate Agreement.

“It doesn’t matter what color his skin is,” he said of Edwards. “His politics suck.”

Jim Cropsey of Tilton, an Edwards supporter, praised the former veteran for his integrity and his promise to revive Social Security for seniors and to find a way to “wean” the country off it.

“He’s an honorable person,” he said “I probably won’t be able to retire, but I hope my daughter will be able to.”

“I deal with people,” he added. “The person is more important to me than their identity.”

Chris Pappas joins only six incumbent Democrats in Congress under the age of 40 and becomes the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from New Hampshire – just the eighth in U.S. history, according to his campaign.

Voters might not have heard the last from Edwards.

“We came up a little short tonight,” Edwards said. “That doesn’t mean we stop. That means that we keep fighting for those values that we hold so dear to us.”

(Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, a quote from Edwards was attributed to  Pappas erroneously. The article has been corrected and updated.)

 (Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)