By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
BEDFORD – While a recount in the election has been requested by Republicans, Democrats were ready to take a victory lap over flipping a Bedford House of Representatives seat, from red to blue, this week.
State Rep.-Elect Catherine Rombeau, who won by 37 votes in a special election, said she is thrilled and excited to go to Concord with a pro-choice, pro-public education spirit.
She and local leaders from that traditionally Republican-leaning town met to discuss what they considered a “historic” win in a press conference that was organized by the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said the Democrats are feeling positive momentum and have a “solid ground game” going into the upcoming elections, helped in large part by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s decisions to support a biennial budget which included limitations on abortion and other issues.
State Rep. Matt Wilhelm of Manchester and State Rep. Sue Mullen of Bedford, also participated with Mullen praised for convincing Bedford to hold the special election.
Mullen now has a fellow Democrat representing Bedford in the House after being the lone Democrat representative. She said she was absolutely thrilled by the outcome of the special election.
Rombeau flipped a district with a 12 percent GOP registration advantage.
She and supporters canvased the neighborhoods, knocking on more than 5,000 doors and talking with them about her plans to defend reproductive rights and public education in Concord.
This follows Sununu’s signing of a number of bills which the Democrats assert is part of an anti-choice, anti-public school agenda.
Linda Rea Camarota, the Republican running to fill the seat of the late Rep. David Danielson, R-Bedford, lost by a very small margin of the 4,615 ballots cast.
A recount is planned for Monday and Rombeau said she is feeling confident her win will hold.
Buckley said there was not so much of a Trump influence at the polls Tuesday in Bedford but it was more a referendum on Sununu, who may or may not run for U.S. Senate against Democrat incumbent Maggie Hassan.
He said while he was out in Bedford on Rombeau’s behalf, what he was hearing was “a huge backlash to the anti-choice legislation” that Gov. Sununu signed.
Camarota, he said, was in addition to being anti-choice an “anti vaxer” who opposes vaccinations for the coronavirus. He said that put her out of the mainstream in “even a Republican town like Bedford.”
Earlier this year, Democrats retained a House seat in a special election in Bow and Dunbarton with Muriel Hall replacing Samantha Fox, who retired in what Buckley called a “Republican-leaning” district.
In the Jaffrey special primary election last week, Buckley said the Democrat who ran unopposed for the House seat, received more votes than both the Republicans combined and added he is hopeful of a strong showing in the Derry area for the seat and knows there are a couple of vacancies out there in some Republican-leaning towns who deserve their representation as well.
The victory in Bedford, if it holds, means that Republicans now have a 21 seat advantage over Democrats rather than 22.
While Buckley said upcoming special elections in other Republican-leaning towns are coming up, he feels some good momentum going into 2022.
He said he expects that Democrat Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig will be re-elected in her race against Republican Victoria Sullivan this fall.
Buckley said having a strong candidate is number one and he said Rombeau fit the bill. Wilhelm agreed, stating the vote Tuesday was a combination of a good message, a good candidate.
“This election was a clear referendum on an unpopular and extreme New Hampshire Republican agenda that is out of touch with Granite State values,” Wilhem said, noting that Democrats feel really positive about winning the House back next November.