Negron leads close GOP primary in 2nd Congressional District

  • Lynne Blakenbeker (right) speaks with supporters during her election watch party Tuesday night at the VFW Post 1631 in Concord. CAITLIN ANDREWS / Monitor staff

  • Supporters of Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Dr. Stewart Levenson watch election returns on a television in Concord on Tuesday. LEAH WILLINGHAM / Monitor staff

  • 2nd Congressional District GOP candidates Lynne Blankenbeker (left) and state Rep. Steve Negron (right) talk with 1st Congressional District GOP candidate Eddie Edwards (center) at the annual New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women annual Lilac Luncheon, held Monday in Manchester. Paul Steinhauser

Published: 9/12/2018 12:15:19 AM

As the votes were totaled throughout the night, Steve Negron’s narrow lead grew in the Republican battle for the 2nd Congressional District.

By midnight, Negron, the Air Force Veteran from Nashua, led by nearly 1,000 votes over Hopkinton physician Stewart Levenson and Concord veteran Lynne Blankenbeker, but the race was still too close to call with results trickling in from Salem and other areas of western New Hampshire.

Negron led the pack with about 27 percent of the vote; Levenson was not far behind with 25 percent of the vote. Blankenbeker had 23 percent of the vote, and Robert Burns trailed with 15 percent. Candidates Brian Belanger, Jay Mercer and Gerard Beloin had single digit numbers at the end of the night.

Negron was confident.

“We’ve looked at the wards that are left and there’s not a lot of big cities and towns left out there,” he told WMUR. “So I think if we can pull in Salem then the path isn’t going to be there for somebody else. So we’ll be pretty confident.”

Blankenbeker, who watched the race from VFW Post 1631 in Concord, grew tired. At 11 p.m. she said she wasn’t giving, up, “Just going to bed.”

Levenson, who walked into his headquarters at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord to a standing ovation, said he wanted to thank all of his supporters for their dedication to him throughout the campaign.

“There were times when the work just became as much as I could handle, but well wishing and the support of people out there just made me push a little bit harder,” he said. “I am so grateful to the people in the district, because they helped this as much as anyone.”

He said he thought his position as a newcomer and non-politician made him an attractive candidate to voters.

“It was new to me – it was all new. I still don’t completely feel comfortable, but I think that’s why the message resonated so well with people,” Levenson said. “I was running because I had had it with career politicians. People are fed up with the status quo of incivility, people that go to Washington to set up camp there for the rest of their professional lives.”

Blankenbeker’s currently a Navy reservist, drilling one weekend a month as a commanding officer of a 600-member medical unit in San Diego.

In between active duty tours, Blankenbeker won a state House of Representatives 2009 special election as a conservative in Concord, which is considered liberal territory. She won re-election to a full term in 2010.

Negron served as an intercontinental ballistic missile combat crew member in Missouri and at Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., before retiring as a major in 1998. He first ran for public office in 2016, winning a House seat in Nashua’s Ward 5.

Levenson, a first-time candidate, based much of his campaign on his role leading a group of whistleblowers to root out “corruption and incompetence” in the Manchester VA when he was Medical Director of the VA New England Network in 2017.

The winner will face off against incumbent Democrat Annie Kuster, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination for the 2nd District.

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