GOP takes Manchester mayor’s seat, Democrats have almost tied the NH House

Monitor staff

Published: 11-08-2023 4:11 PM

A Republican took over the corner office in the biggest of the Tuesday’s mayoral elections in New Hampshire, while Democratic success in a special election pushed the New Hampshire House to the edge of a tie between the political parties.

In Manchester, first-time candidate Jay Ruais, a National Guard member and former Republican congressional staffer, defeated Democratic Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh, 51% to 49%. The race was closely watched because Cavanaugh promised to build on the record of Mayor Joyce Craig, who didn’t seek reelection and is running for governor next year.

Election Day involved only municipal offices, including school boards, rather than state government offices. The one exception was Nashua’s Ward 4, which held a State House special election to fill the seat formerly held by Democratic state Rep. David Cote, who resigned earlier this year after three decades in office due to health concerns.

Democrat Paige Beauchemin easily defeated David Narkunas, not a surprise in heavily Democratic Nashua. It is the sixth win for Democrats in a House special election this year, and means the 400-member New Hampshire House now has 198 Republicans, 197 Democrats and three independents. Two seats are still open, both in Republican-leaning Coos County.

Cote was a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging restrictions on remote legislative participation instituted by House Republican leaders. The lawsuit has since been dismissed.

In other mayoral races:

In Nashua, Jim Donchess was easily re-elected over challenger Mike Soucy, a county commissioner and former city policeman.

In Portsmouth, DeaglanMcEachern was reelected to a second term as voters returned all the incumbents in the City Council election, rejecting a bid by five past councilors to return to office.

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In Somersworth, Matt Gerding was elected mayor, succeeding outgoing Mayor Dana Hilliard, who did not seek reelection

Berlin will have a new mayor for the first time in 14 years. Newcomer Robert Cone narrowly ousted seven-term mayor Paul Grenier in a four-way race.

In Keene, former state senator Jay Kahn was elected mayor, defeating Bradford Hutchinson, 91% to 9%.

In Rochester, Mayor Paul Callaghan defeated challenger Susan Rice to win a second term.

The mayors of Claremont, Dover and Laconia were reelected without opposition.