Donna Soucy takes Senate District 18 for Democrats
By BILL SMITH New Hampshire Union Leader
MANCHESTER - Donna Soucy, a three-term member of the city's Board of School Committee, took the District 18 state Senate seat into the Democratic column Tuesday, defeating a Republican and an independent in a three-person race.
State Rep. J. Gail Barry, R-Manchester, was heading for a second-place finish, while school board member Arthur Beaudry was trailing the field.
The district includes Wards 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in Manchester and the town of Litchfield.
With five of the six voting districts reporting results, Soucy had 10,359 votes, or 53 percent of the total to 6,016 for Barry or 31 percent of the total for Barry, and 3,084 votes for Beaudry.
A large turnout slowed the vote-counting work, as both the volume of ballots to be tallied and lines at the polls at closing time delayed the returns.
"I did a lot of work, going door to door and sending out mail, and I'm very pleased with the end result," Soucy said.
Soucy's victory was an element in a Democratic effort to end Republican control of the state Senate. The District 18 seat shifts from the Republicans to the Democrats as incumbent Republian Sen. Tom DeBlois gave up his seat to make a run for the Executive Council.
While some races around the state were still undecided early this morning, it appeared that the Democrats were poised to come within a seat or two of an even split in the Legislature's upper chamber.
A former senate staff director, Soucy said the Democrats will be able to have greater influence on legislation even if they don't attain a majority.
"Certainly balance in the Senate, whether it's 13-11 or 12-12 is helpful, I think it's good for New Hampshire," Soucy said. "The closer the numbers are in a body like the Senate, the more likely that both sides are willing to reach across the aisle."
The Democrat's campaign was well financed, with more than $94,000 raised during the preliminary and final elections.
Soucy won the wards that she and Beaudry represent on the school board. In Litchfield, the Manchester Democrat trailed Barry by only three percentage points, a major shift from the 2010 race in which DeBlois swamped his Democratic opponent by a three to one margin in the town.
Beaudry said he was disappointed in the result, but knew that he was facing an uphill battle because, he said, an independent candidate doesn't have the money and the organization that candidates from the major political parties bring to the fight.
"I got a lot of good response when I was walking the ward," Beaudry said. "The negative ads that the Democrats put out were lies and they do smear campaigns and didn't want to talk about the issues."
Now in his sixth term on the school board, Beaudry said he intends to run for another term in 2013.
As for making another state Senate run, he said, "I'm not throwing my signs away."
Soucy's vote totals were close to the totals for her party's nominee for governor, running within a few points of Hassan throughout Manchester's wards.
"I'm looking forward to working with Maggie Hassan. I have a very good working relationship with her and I have worked with her personally," Soucy said. I have a great deal of respect for Maggie and look forward to working with her on her agenda. Soucy has been involved in city politics for years as a member of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen currently as a school board member.