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District 4 recount likely in Executive Council race

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 12. 2012 12:18AM

MANCHESTER - The race for the Republican nomination for the District 4 Executive Council couldn't get any closer, as the two top vote-getters waited for Pembroke's results early this morning.

Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns of Bedford likely edged former Sen. Tom De Blois of Manchester. Both said a recount was likely, no matter who wins.

The three-way race with businessman Chuck Rolecek showed each candidate receiving about one-third of the vote.

In other contests, the dean of the council, District 1 Councilor Raymond Burton, R-Bath, beat back a challenge from retired businessman Jerry Thibodeau of Rumney, while newcomer Colin Van Ostern won the Democratic nomination to the District 2 seat.

In the District 4 race, Burns held a 69-vote lead over De Blois, with only Pembroke outstanding. Burns was hopeful of having won neighboring Allenstown and other towns in the area, but De Blois was not conceding anything.

The three candidates sought to replace Raymond Wieczorek, R-Manchester, who decided not to seek reelection.

De Blois did well in many Manchester wards, but Burns won Goffstown and Rolecek won Londonderry.

With 97 percent of the vote counted, Burns had 6,913, De Blois 6,844 and Rolecek 6,357.

Rolecek, who owns the Hanover Chop House in Manchester, came under attack for his financial support for former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and current Gov. John Lynch.

De Blois served one term in the state Senate before running for the Executive Council, while Burns was endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire.

The winner faces Democratic nominee Chris Pappas of Manchester.

District 1

Burton built a commanding lead with about 85 percent reporting in the district, which stretches from Canada to the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region and down to the Seacoast.

Burton had 72 percent of the vote while Thibodeau had 28 percent.

Burton has served 34 years on the Executive Council and rarely had an opponent, but had all he could handle this year from Thibodeau, who has the backing of the Tea Party movement.

During his 17 terms on the council as well as serving as Grafton County commissioner and on the Bath School Board, Burton has been known for his constituent service.

Burton remains a moderate Republican and that has drawn the wrath of the more conservative wing of the GOP.

Thibodeau, who was endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus of NH, attacked Burton for his support of numerous spending projects - from a $1 million loan to replace the engine on the Mount Washington Cruise Ship to the newly opened $33 million House of Corrections in North Haverhill.

The winner faces Democrat Beth Funicilla in the general election.

District 2

The Democratic nominee for the District 2 council seat, which stretches from Keene to the Seacoast, Colin Van Ostern led his two challengers in early results, but claimed victory before 9 p.m.

'I'm grateful to the thousands of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans who are supporting our campaign. As we head toward the November election and beyond, I promise to continue to be a voice for a smart, efficient and well-managed state government that is focused first and foremost on supporting job creation and economic development,' Van Ostern said. 'After a year of our Executive Council spending their time attacking Planned Parenthood, passenger rail, and consumer protections instead of focusing on the economy, today's vote is a critical first step toward bringing balance back to the State House.'

The council seat is Van Ostern's first run for major office.

With 67 percent of the vote in, Van Ostern had 61 percent of the vote. Opponents John Shea had 32 percent and Shawn Mickelonis 7 percent.

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Garry Rayno may be reached at