We have a winner: Chris Sununu declared victor in GOP race for governor

  • Republican gubernatorial rivals Frank Edelblut, left, and Chris Sununu cross paths at the polling station in Bedford, N.H. Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Both are seeking their party's nomination in Tuesday's state primary. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Republican candidate Frank Edelblut with Andy Sanborn outside the Bedford High School polling place Tuesday.

  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu waves to the crowd at the Unity breakfast at Bedford Village Inn Wednesday morning as his opponent Frank Edelblut claps in the foreground.

  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Frank Edelblut claps as his opponent Chris Sununu speaks at the Unity breakfast at the Bedford Village Inn Wednesday morning.

Monitor staff
Published: 9/14/2016 9:07:29 AM

The Secretary of State has certified Executive Councilor Chris Sununu as the winner of the hotly contested Republican primary for governor. 

Sununu edged out political newcomer, first-term state Rep. Frank Edelblut, by just over 800 votes, according to the office’s tally. Edelblut conceded just before 2 p.m. and did ask for a recount, which is free because the margin is less than 1.5 percent of the total ballots cast in the primary.

“I am happy that I will have to opportunity to vote for Chris Sununu for governor,” Edelblut said in a brief press conference with Sununu outside the State House “We are going to defeat Colin Van Ostern.”

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who came in a distant third, congratulated Sununu on the win. “It’s time for all Republicans to unite behind Chris Sununu’s candidacy and help him win in November,” Gatsas said in a statement. 

The results came out hours after the state GOP unity breakfast in Bedford that was meant to bring candidates together after bruising primary races.

All four Republican gubernatorial candidates attended. Sununu, 41, thanked the competition during the event and urged Republicans to unite behind the entire ticket in November. 

“It was a fun, fun race,” said Sununu, 41. “Now it’s time to really get down to business.”

Many expected a tight race between Sununu and Ted Gatsas, but Edelblut overtook the  Manchester mayor early on primary night.

Edelblut and Sununu vied back and forth for first as results tricked in from 300 precincts across the state. Neither candidate conceded late Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning less than 1,200 votes separated the candidates with roughly eight towns not yet reporting their votes.

Sununu, whose family is one of the most well known in New Hampshire politics, benefited from high name recognition in the crowded four-candidate Republican field. Edelblut was virtually unknown by voters when he entered the race last year, but he gained a strong following among libertarian-leaning Republicans. 

The contest is the tightest GOP primary for governor since 1982, when Sununu’s father John H. Sununu defeated Robert Monier by 1,794 votes. 

“It’s almost a family tradition,” former Gov. John H. Sununu said, remarking on his son’s tight race. “Primaries in New Hampshire are really unpredictable.”

Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern easily bested his Democratic competitors Tuesday, defeating seacoast businessman Mark Connolly and former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand by double-digits. 

(This story will be updated. Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com)   

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