By GARRY RAYNO, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD — The 2020 state primary held under the veil of a worldwide pandemic is history except for the recounts. Let the games begin.
For the next two months, Democrats and Republicans will battle everywhere, from the White House to the New Hampshire House, and it will be fierce as both sides believe this election represents an historic point in our divided country.
In New Hampshire it did not take long for history to repeat itself, as GOP incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu, who won easily defeating conservative activist Karen Testerman by about 115,000 votes, tried to tie the Democratic nominee, Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes of Concord to the income tax, an old GOP strategy against Democrats.
The once youngest governor in the country also took a shot at Feltes, who would be the youngest governor in the country if he wins, saying “Dan Feltes has never managed anything in his life and is clearly unprepared to lead our state.”
Feltes took aim at Sununu tying him to President Trump and saying he does not represent the working people of the state.
Granite Staters “deserve a governor who doesn’t call himself ‘a Trump guy, through and through.’” Feltes said, “and a future for working families just like the one I grew up in and ones all across the state who right now are left out and left behind by Governor Sununu and the politics of the past.”
Few surprises greeted those waking up Wednesday morning, although one major race, the Democratic gubernatorial nomination was settled late at night.
Despite the pandemic, a record number of residents cast their votes in Tuesday’s primary election with about 290,000 voting with 99 percent of the precincts reporting. Tuesday’s turnout smashes the old record of 228,432 voters, which was set two years ago during the 2018 primary.
The official totals, including the number of Democratic and Republican ballots requested as well as the breakdown of registered Democrats and Republicans and the number of undeclared voters asking for ballots will be determined by the Secretary of State’s Office in the next few days.
Veteran New Hampshire office holder Jeanne Shaheen won her fourth Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, where she has served two terms. Shaheen received over 140,000 votes with 98 percent of the precinct reporting, which is more than the four candidates running for the Republican nomination received at 138,000.
Shaheen faces New Hampshire newcomer Corky Messner in the general election. Messner had primary help with President Trump’s endorsement and ran a self-funded campaign.
With the U.S. Senate majority at stake in this election, major money will flow into this race on both sides, but Messner is clearly the underdog.
First Congressional District Democratic incumbent Chris Pappas was unopposed but wasted little time in painting his general election opponent as out of touch with New Hampshire and in Trump’s hip pocket. Matt Mowers was endorsed by Trump, and handily defeated long-time NH GOP activist Matt Mayberry by 23,000 votes.
Mowers is a former Trump administration official and was the executive director of NH GOP before joining New Jersey Gov. Chris Christy’s campaign for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination.
Pappas, who with his family owns the Puritan Restaurant in Manchester, held a press conference Tuesday to announce the endorsement of a number of prominent Republicans including Jamey French, Claira Monier, Donna McQuade and former U.S. House member Betty Tamposi among others.
The Second Congressional District general election race will be a rematch between Democratic incumbent Ann McLane Kuster, seeking her fifth term and former Nashua state Rep. Steven Negron, who defeated former Rep. Lynne Ferrari Blankenbeker of Concord by more than 6,000 votes
Kuster had token opposition as she won easily.
In the 2018 contest, Kuster won by more than 37,000 votes.
The five executive council races in the general election feature a number of familiar names and two rematches.
District 1 will be a rematch between Democratic incumbent Michael Cryans and former councilor Joseph Kenney, who held the seat since the death of long-time District 1 councilor Raymond Burton in 2013, before losing to Cryans in 2018.
The District 2 race for the open, heavily-Democratic seat will feature Concord attorney Cinde Warmington against Republican Jim Beard of Lempster.
Warmington won a six-person race by fewer than 1,000 votes, while Beard won by fewer than 1,000 votes in a two-person race.
In the open District 3 race, two Rye residents will fight it out for the seat left vacant when councilor Russell Prescott decided not to seek re-election.
Democratic former House member Mindi Messmer will face Janet Stevens, a small business owner and nonprofit advocate.
District 4 will feature Republican incumbent and former Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas against former NH AFL-CIO president Mark Mackenzie of Manchester.
And the District 5 race will also look familiar as Democratic incumbent Debora Pignatelli takes on former councilor David Wheeler. The two have faced off a number of times for the District 5 seat.
In the state Senate, one incumbent lost in the primary elections, Sen. David Starr of Franconia lost his Republican primary to Rep. Erin Hennessy of Littleton.
Hennessey will face fellow Rep. Susan Ford of Easton in the general election in a seat that has swung back and forth between the two parties over the years.
Nine incumbent House members of both parties lost in the primary election.
Incumbents who failed to make the general election ballot are:
Dee Jurius, R-Meredith;
John Plumer, R-Belmont;
Henry Parkhurst, D-Winchester;
William Pearson, D-Keene;
Fred Davis, D-Nashua;
Ken Gidge, D-Nashua;
William Fowler, R-Seabrook;
Jason Janvrin, R-Seabrook;
And Abigail Rooney, R-Milton.
The general election will be held Nov. 3 under the same rules and regulations as the primary intended to make voting safer for election officials and workers, and voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Garry Rayno may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org