By GARRY RAYNO, Distant Dome
State senate races have become more and more expensive since the People’s United Supreme Court decision with piles of outside money cascading into the New Hampshire political pool to muddy the waters.
When the filing period closed June 15, the Democrats had candidates running for all 24 seats and Republicans had 23 candidates filed and probably a write-in campaign will be in the works to find an opponent for District 4 incumbent David Watters of Dover in the general election.
And gone are the days when the opposing party showed deference to the sitting Senate President and not did not file a candidate to oppose him in the general election.
Despite the strong showing of candidates filing for seats on both sides, there are precious few primaries for party voters to decide their standard bearer in November.
Republicans have four primaries including two against incumbent senators.
In District 3, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro is being challenged by Steve Steiner of North Conway, a real estate agent who ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2012.
The winner of the primary faces Democrat Christopher Meier, a Conway attorney.
Another GOP primary is in District 12, where incumbent Kevin Avard of Nashua is challenged by Nashua Alderman Richard Dowd.
In District 16, former Sen. David Boutin of Hooksett is running against Bill Kuch of Bow, who is currently serving his second term in the House.
The winner of the primary will face incumbent Democrat Kevin Cavanaugh of Manchester who won a special election to replace Scott McGilvray of Hooksett who died in office.
Republicans Rep. Terry Wolf of Bedford and former Rep. Dan Hynes of Bedford are running in District 9 to replace Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford, who is seeking the GOP nomination for the US Rep. District 1 seat.
Democrats have three candidate seeking the District 9 nomination including former senator and gubernatorial candidate Mark Fernald of Sharon.
Also running for the District 9 nomination are Jeanne Dietsch of Peterborough, who ran for the seat in 2016, and Dublin farmer and educator Bruce Fox.
The other Democratic primary is in District 12, where union official and instructor Tom Falter of Greenfield faces off against former Rep. Melanie Levesque of Brookline.
The only other seat without an incumbent is District 13 as Democrat Bette Lasky of Nashua announced she would retire. Democratic Rep. Cindy Rosenwald of Nashua will face former Nashua alderman David Schoneman, a Republican in the general election.
In District 1, Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield will face Republican David Starr of Franconia, a retired former BAE engineer, and in District 2, incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Giuda of Warren will face Democrat Bill Bolton of Plymouth, a town selectman.
In District 5, Democratic incumbent Martha Hennessey of Hanover will face Patrick Lozito of Claremont, a member of the Free State Project, and in District 6, GOP incumbent James Gray of Rochester will face Democrat Anne Grassie of Rochester, a former House member.
In District 7, Republican incumbent Harold F. French of Franklin faces political newcomer Mason Donovan of Boscawen, an author and small business owner, and in District 8, incumbent Ruth Ward of Stoddard faces Democrat Jenn Alford-Teaster of Sutton, a research project director at Dartmouth College.
In District 10, Democratic incumbent Jay Kahn of Keene will face Republican Dan LeClair of Swanzey, a former police officer and construction company owner, and in District 11, GOP incumbent Gary Daniels of Milford faces Democrat Rep. Shannon Chandley of Amherst.
In District 14, GOP incumbent Sharon Carson of Londonderry faces Democrat Tammy Siekmann Londonderry, a former candidate for both the House and Senate, and in District 15, Democratic incumbent Dan Feltes of Concord faces former candidate and Republican activist Pamela Ean of Concord.
In District 17 Republican incumbent John Reagan of Deerfield faces Democrat Christopher Roundy of Nottingham, an attorney in Dover, and in District 18, Democratic incumbent Donna Soucy of Manchester faces former Senate candidate and former Rep. George Lambert of Litchfield.
In District 19, Republican incumbent Regina Birdsell of Hampstead faces Democrat Kristina Durocher of Hampstead, the director of the Museum of Art at the University of New Hampshire, and in District 20, the Dean of the Senate, Democratic incumbent Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester faces a rematch with Republican and former Free State Project President Carla Gericke of Manchester.
In District 21, Democratic incumbent Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth faces GOP and former state Senate candidate Peter Macdonald of Lee, and in District 22, Senate President Chuck Morse of Salem faces a rematch with Democrat Richard O’Shaughnessy Salem.
In District 23, Republican incumbent Bill Gannon of Sandown faces Democrat Jon Morgan of Brentwood, a cybersecurity expert, and in District 24 GOP incumbent Dan Innis of New Castle faces a rematch with physician and former Rep. Tom Sherman of Rye, a Democrat.
Two Libertarians filed for State Senate, former Free State Project member Ian Freeman of Keene District 10, and Mitch Dyer of Pelham in District 22.
The Senate 2012 redistricting makes it nearly impossible for Democrats to control the Senate as Districts 4, 5, 10, 13, 15 and 21 are packed with Democrats leaving many former contestable seats firmly in Republican hands.
However, this non-presidential election year Democrats hope to improve the 14-10 partisan split in the Senate and are eyeing districts 7 and 12, which were both Democratic wins in the 2012 election.
Democrats are also eyeing districts 9 and 24 as possible targets as well while Republicans believe they can maintain their solid majority.
Five months is a lifetime in politics and the shifting sands of the current political environment means anything can happen.
The mid-term elections are generally kinder to the party out of power than to the one in, but conventional wisdom is meaningless today.
Garry Rayno may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Distant Dome by veteran journalist Garry Rayno explores a broader perspective on the State House and state happenings. Over his three-decade career, Rayno covered the NH State House for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Foster’s Daily Democrat. During his career, his coverage spanned the news spectrum, from local planning, school and select boards, to national issues such as electric industry deregulation and Presidential primaries. Rayno lives with his wife Carolyn in New London.