September 11. 2018 9:24PM

Edwards secures GOP 1st CD nomination

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON and KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondents


Eddie Edwards greets supporters after winning the Republican nomination for the 1st Congressional District Tuesday. (Kimberley Haas/Union Leader Correspondent)

BEDFORD — It was a nail-biter of a race Tuesday, but Eddie Edwards edged out Andy Sanborn to secure the Republican nomination for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District. Edwards is the first African-American to win the GOP nomination in the district.

Edwards thanked his wife, Cindy, after winning the nomination. He also thanked the roomful of supporters at a Toyota dealership in Portsmouth.

"I am so humbled that so many people were motivated to help me on this campaign," Edwards said. "We're going to win this seat. You guys spoke loud and clear that ethics and integrity matter."

Edwards also thanked veterans.

"The veterans will never have to worry that someone is fighting for them like they did for us," he added.

At Murphy's Taproom in Bedford, Sanborn thanked his supporters for fighting a good fight, but did not officially concede as of 10 p.m., although he acknowledged that his team was slightly behind.

"I want to make sure all the votes are counted, but I just think that path to victory is really beginning to narrow for us," said Sanborn, a state senator since 2010. "I think it is really going to be a late night ... I think that mathematically there is still a path so I don't want to concede and drop out, I just think it is getting really narrow."

In what some supporters thought was a concession speech on Tuesday night, Sanborn urged them not to stop fighting for their beliefs.

"We cannot stop fighting until we make sure all the seats we have in New Hampshire and across America remain in conservative hands," he said.

The race came down to two rivals — one with the reputation as a maverick conservative legislator and the other an outspoken former state department head who often clashed with his superiors.

Sanborn, R-Bedford, had more elective experience and parlayed his Concord sports bar business into a massive financial advantage in this race after loaning his own campaign more than $500,000.

Edwards of Dover made a name for himself as head of law enforcement for the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. After that, he worked as a police chief, congressional staffer and lobbyist.

"Eddie is what we need," Marga Couple, a Seacoast Republican leader, said on Tuesday night. "We get behind someone we can trust."

John Wennberg of Portsmouth said he supports Edwards because he believes it is important that President Donald Trump's plans for the economy and border protection become reality.

"Right now, we can't with the Democrats and it's important to have more Republicans in Congress," Wennberg said.

Edwards will now attempt to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH. Edwards will take on Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, a Democrat from Manchester, in November's election.

The lesser-known Republicans on the primary ballot Tuesday were Michael Callis, a stone craft artist from Conway; Jeffory Denaro, a plumbing contractor from Auburn; and Andy Martin, a perennial candidate from Manchester.

Union Leader Staff Writer Kevin Landrigan contributed to this report.