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Amid questions, Republican Winterton withdraws from Senate District 16 race

  • Winterton

Monitor staff
Published: 9/8/2016 11:49:56 PM

Donald Winterton, a Republican candidate for the District 16 Senate seat, has ended his campaign and withdrawn from the race.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner said Thursday that because Winterton has not lived in New Hampshire for at least the last seven years, he does not meet the qualifications to hold the seat.

“We do the best we can to make sure the people on the ballot have met the qualifications to hold the office,” Gardner told reporters at the State House on Thursday.

Winterton declined to comment when reached by phone, but he shared a statement with the New Hampshire GOP in which he accepted Gardner’s decision and opted not to appeal to the Ballot Commission.

“I regret that I did not know all the intricacies of this requirement and I accept full responsibility for the failure to know all the details of the qualifications to run,” Winterton said in the statement. “I look forward to working to continue to keep this Senate seat a Republican seat, which needs to have the same effective representation that was provided by Sen. David Boutin.”

State Rep. Joe Duarte of Candia was Winterton’s lone opponent in the primary race. Earlier this week, he told the Monitor that Winterton’s error was likely nothing more than a mistake and should not be taken as a negative reflection of Winterton’s integrity.

Winterton signed an affidavit when he filed for the race to verify he met the requirements, including that he had lived in New Hampshire for at least seven years leading up to the election. But when he acknowledged to WMUR last week that he had only been living in the state since 2011, Democrats took notice and sent a letter to the secretary of state raising concerns about Winterton’s qualifications. 

After the holiday weekend, state Rep. David Bates, a Windham Republican, filed an election law complaint against Winterton. Gardner said he independently verified that Winterton had voted absentee in the 2012 presidential election in Florida. 

In a statement, New Hampshire GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn thanked Winterton for resigning from the race and urged his supporters to vote for Duarte in the primary.

“It is time that Republicans unite behind the next state senator from District 16, Rep. Joe Duarte, who will proudly serve the district,” Horn said. 

Ballots were printed and sent out to absentee voters in August, but new ballots with Winterton’s name omitted will be printed for the district in time for Tuesday. Gardner said it will cost $1,200 to print the new ballots.


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