November 07. 2012 3:04PM

John DiStaso's Granite Status: Democratic state Senate candidate Nyquist seeks recount in District 9

Senior Political Reporter

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 7, UPDATE: RECOUNT REQUEST. Democratic state Senate candidate Lee Nyquist of New Boston says he will seek a recount in District 9.

The results currently show Nyquist losing to Republican former state Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford, 15,478, to 15,225, a 223-vote, or seven-tenths of a percent, difference.

“After very, very careful consideration of what is the appropriate thing to do, we have determined it is appropriate to seek a recount. The margin is considerably less than 1 percent,” Nyquist said.

“We owe it to the incredible number of supporters we had,” he said. “I’m so amazed and gratified.”

The result of the recount could determine the balance of power in the Senate.

The current result have Republicans with a 13-11 majority beginning in January. If Nyquist wins the recount, the Senate would be split 12-12 and control of the Senate leadership would be up for grabs.

The House has already flipped to Democratic control. House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli says her party now has 217 seats compared to 177 Republican seats with some seats still outstanding.

(Earlier updates and the full Nov. 1 Granite Status follow.)

TUESDAY, NOV. 6, UPDATE: WHAT HE DIDN'T EXPECT. Republican candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne said on Election Day he did not anticipate the avalanche of negative advertising against him that he faced during the campaign.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, several hours before the polls closed, Lamontagne told the Granite Status he felt positive about his chances of defeating Democrat Maggie Hassan. As it turned out, he lost the election to Hassan by a substantial margin.

“What I didn't expect was the amount of negative advertising against me and how difficult it was to try to respond to all of that in an effective way," he said. He echoed those comments hours later in his concession speech at the Executive Court in Manchester.

“I didn't have the resources to rebut every one of those charges and so it was incumbent on people who know me to get the word out that these were misrepresentations and outright lies in some cases.

“That's the one factor that, depending on how this race turns out, it was something that I didn't expect this kind of intensity of negative activity by groups from around the country,” he said. “This is outside money targeting me in a very direct way.

“It's a national race much moreso than I think I can remember any other governor's race being,” he said.

“Significant special interests put a lot of money into demonizing me and hopefully the people see through that.”

Lamontagne was targeted by groups such as the Democratic Governors Association, EMILY's List, NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action.

The Republican Governors Association attacked Hassan on taxes in support of Lamontagne.

(The full Nov. 1 Granite Status follow.)

THURSDAY, NOV. 1: GARDNER PREDICTION. Secretary of State Bill Gardner expects about 722,000 Granite Staters, or about 70 percent of the total voting age population, to go to the polls on Election Day.

"That's a really good turnout," Gardner said Wednesday.

In 2008, a total of 719,393 New Hampshire residents voted, Gardner said, and according to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate, there were 1,021,787 voting age residents that year, both registered and non-registered.

That was good for a 69.6 percent turnout, second in the nation behind only Minnesota, at 73.2 percent.

Gardner said he expects the turnout percentage to be roughly the same next Tuesday and maybe a bit higher.

Turnout surpassed 300,000 in 1968, 400,000 in 1980 and 500,000 in 1992. But Gardner noted that in 2004, the number jumped to about 683,000 and then climbed modestly in 2008.

He said the only year since Eisenhower in 1956 in which the turnout dropped when a President sought reelection was 1996, and he does not expect that to happen this year.

As as we have reported, Gardner is concerned that questions about voter ID and registration, in addition to having three constitutional questions on the ballot, could make for long lines at the polling places.

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DEEP PURPLE. When was the last time all the top New Hampshire races were too close to call?

Not in our nearly 33 years doing this.

There were elections in which one top race was close and the others weren't.

In 2000, the presidential race in New Hampshire was razor close, with George W. Bush defeating Al Gore by 7,211 votes. But there was a 5 percentage point spread in the governor's race, with Jeanne Shaheen defeating Gordon Humphrey, and lopsided Republican wins in both congressional districts.

In one year or another, there has been at least one race that was not close, largely because of at least one major player on the ballot, whether it was Judd Gregg or Shaheen, or more recently John Lynch.

This time, there is no such "stalwart" on the ballot on either side.

Add to that the record-breaking spending taking place on both sides of the major races.

The spending is a result of how close the races are, and at the same time, the huge money, split pretty much evenly, is one factor in helping to keep the races close.

In the governor's race, the Democratic and Republican governors associations are playing big time, and not just because it's an open seat, but also because the chairmen of the two groups - Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Martin O'Malley - have presidential ambitions for 2016 and/or beyond, and surely want to make friends in powerful places here.

Total spending in the governor's race by candidates and outside groups will probably end up in the $12 million to $14 million range.

This could also be the closest presidential contest in New Hampshire history, with the possible exception of 2000. While surveys conducted by the University of New Hampshire have shown President Obama maintaining substantial leads, virtually every other poll of the state in October has been within the margins of error.

And the gubernatorial and congressional races are essentially dead even as well.

"I see no way around it," said Republican strategist Tom Rath. "We are a state that is now evenly divided and I expect it to stay that way for the foreseeable future. We have turned purple."

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REMEMBER COATTAILS? Yes, "coattails" is an antiquated term. But we agree with UNH Survey Center Director Andy Smith's view that the race for the open governor's seat will be substantially affected by the top of the ticket.

While Ovide Lamontagne and Maggie Hassan have raised their name recognition, UNH polling had the percentage of undecided voters still hovering in the 25 to 30 percent range a little more than a week ago, and more than 35 percent among independent voters.

And although the congressional races are not open seats, Democratic challengers Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster are virtually as well-known as incumbents Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass. The presidential contest is expected to be a big factor in those races as well.

Even optimistic Republicans are not predicting a 19 to 5 majority to be maintained in the state Senate. They're looking at a 14-10 or 13-11 majority.

Democrats say that even the new Senate districts, re-drawn earlier this year by the Republican legislative majorities, do not guarantee a GOP majority.

They say the map shows that, based on the results in the various cities and towns comprising the new districts, 13 of the 24 districts are either "even" or slightly favor Republicans, while only four more heavily lean Republican and six lean Democratic.

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THEIR FINAL PITCHES. With the state's four electoral votes still up for grabs, both presidential candidates will make final personal pitches for New Hampshire votes.

President Obama will return to the state for a campaign event in Concord this Sunday. Details to be announced, but the campaign says former President Bill Clinton will be with Obama.

Mitt Romney will be here twice more. On Saturday morning, he will have a rally at Portsmouth International Airport. (Tickets available at area campaign offices) and then a "Final Victory Rally" at the Verizon Wireless Arena on election eve Monday at 9:30 p.m.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The event is free but tickets are required by visiting

Recording artist Kid Rock will perform at the event.

Also, the Romney-Ryan campaign will hold a rally with U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire today at the Executive Court in Manchester, beginning at 12:30 p.m.

The Obama campaign will bring in Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Caroline Kennedy Friday and Saturday for a "Granite State Women Decide" tour.

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RAISING AND SPENDING. With outside groups doing the bulk of the spending in the governor's race, it's almost immaterial what the individual candidates are raising and spending.

But for the record, Democrat Hassan has narrowly out-raised and has substantially out-spent Republican Lamontagne in the general election campaign.

In the candidates' campaign finance reports filed on Wednesday, Hassan raised $260,784 since her last report on Oct. 17 and $747,602 since the Sept. 11 primary.

She reported spending $329,159 since Oct. 17 and $681,944 since the primary.

She entered the final few days of the campaign with $65,658 on hand.

Lamontagne raised $183,483 since Oct. 17 and $743,531 since the primary.

He spent $289,937 since his previous report and $564,156 since the primary.

Lamontagne reported $179,375 on hand.

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DEMS FOR OVIDE. Lamontagne today will release the names of nearly 30 registered Democrats supporting him for governor, led by former state Senate Majority Leader Robert Preston and former state Sen. Bobby Stephen of Manchester.

Others on the list include former Merrimack County Treasurer and Manchester City Clerk Leo Bernier, Dr. Brian Gilchrist of Amherst, Nancy Formella, former president of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital and former House Assistant Democratic Leader Rick Newman.

Preston says he believes Democrats "will have a seat at his table and that he will be able to push back against some of the more extreme elements of his own party in order to draft policies that are right for the Granite State."

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HALLOWEEN "NIGHTMARE." The "No Income Tax" political action committee chose Halloween to go on the air with a "nightmarish" radio ad promoting passage of a proposed constitutional amendment banning a state income tax.

PAC chairman Kevin Smith says the ad, in which a man is awakened from an income tax "bad dream," began airing Wednesday on radio stations statewide and will continue through the election.

It will take approval of two-thirds of the voters to amend the constitution to, as the ad says, "forever ban an income tax in New Hampshire."

That's "an uphill battle," Smith says, but he points to recent UNH polling on the question, saying, "It's trending in the right direction."

Back in February, Smith points out, sentiment ran 41 to 39 percent against the proposed amendment. The latest UNH poll conducted between Oct. 17 and 21, had 44 percent in favor of the question and 34 percent against.

Smith, by the way, says he will host a spaghetti supper for Lamontagne, his former GOP gubernatorial rival, on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Londonderry's North School.

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-- Granite State Taxpayers this week backed Romney for President, Lamontagne for governor and a "yes" vote on the income tax constitutional question.

-- Veteran North Country newspaperman John Harrigan will be featured at a "rural values rally" for Democratic District 1 state Senate candidate Jeff Woodburn on Saturday at the Little Grill in Littleton.

--Former Republican State Committee Chair and six-term state Rep. Elsie Vartanian and her husband, David, will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 9.

-- Vote!

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John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at Twitter: @jdistaso.