99 votes give Burns the victory in Executive Council raceBy GARRY RAYNO
State House Bureau
September 12. 2012 11:00PM
CONCORD - The long night Tuesday ended well for Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns in what was the closest contest in the three contested Executive Council races.
Burns, of Bedford, eked out a 99-vote victory over state Sen. Tom De Blois, winning 7,107 votes to De Blois' 7,008, and Chuck Rolecek's 6,506.
While the District 4 Republican race went late into the night, the other two contested races did not.
The council dean, District 1 Councilor Raymond Burton, R-Bath, easily defeated retired businessman Jerry Thibodeau of Rumney, while newcomer Colin Van Ostern handily won the Democratic nomination to the District 2 seat.
All five seats will be contested in the Nov. 6 general election.
Burns said Wednesday: 'At the end of the day. I campaigned in a lot of small towns that my opponents didn't, like Barrington, Allenstown, Loudon and Pembroke.'
Burns noted that the 99-vote margin is likely to hold up. He said he looks forward to another race against the Democratic nominee Chris Pappas of Manchester, who he has faced twice before for the treasurer's seat.
Candidates have until Friday to ask for a recount.
'It's more than likely we will' ask for a recount, De Blois said Wednesday.
He called the results 'very surprising. I led up until midnight, but Barrington and Pembroke turned the tide.'
Those communities were the last to report results; both were won by Burns.
Pappas, a former city Democratic chair and Hillsborough County treasurer, did not have a primary challenge and has raised a considerable amount of money for his campaign in the newly redrawn district that stretches from Goffstown to Loudon to Barrington to Londonderry - including Manchester.
Libertarian Ken Blevens of Bow is also seeking the seat.
District 4 Councilor Raymond Wieczorek, R-Manchester, did not seek re-election.
Burton who has served 17 terms on the Executive Council had little trouble defeating Thibodeau, who had the backing of the Republican Liberty Caucus of NH.
'I campaigned in the usual manner, always visualizing I'm two or three votes behind,' Burton said Wednesday. 'We did everything we could think of and were very, very fortunate the voters came through and put me on top by as many votes as they did.'
He noted his favorite duty as an executive councilor is to help everyone who calls or emails or talks to him regardless of party, where they live or political philosophy.
In the final unofficial tallies, Burton had 71 percent of the vote with 15,312, while Thibodeau had 28 percent with 6,176.
Burton faces Democrat Beth Funicilla of Jackson in the general election and a rematch of the 2010 race.
Libertarian Howard Wilson of Andover is also seeking the seat.
Political newcomer Colin Van Ostern won over two challengers in what is now a heavily Democratic district that runs from Keene to the Seacoast.
'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.
In unofficial results, Van Ostern had 63 percent of the vote, while opponents John Shea of Nelson had 32 percent and Shawn Mickelonis of Rochester had 7 percent.
Van Ostern faces Republican attorney Michael Tierney of Hopkinton, who has represented NH Right To Life in a suit against the federal government's awarding of a health care contract to Planned Parenthood of NNE.
Incumbent Daniel St. Hilaire, R-Concord, did not seek re-election.
Incumbent Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, faces Bill Duncan, D-New Castle, in the District 3 race.
Sununu, who won the seat in 2010 by defeating incumbent Beverly Hollingworth of Hampton, is running in a more Republican district this time; it now includes Derry with its large GOP numbers.
Duncan is the founder of Defending New Hampshire Public Education and a longtime education and veterans advocate.
Libertarian Michael J. Baldassarre of Hampton also seeks the seat.
The District 5 race will be a rematch between two longtime rivals, incumbent David Wheeler, R-Milford, and Debora Pignatelli, D-Nashua.
Wheeler beat Pignatelli in the 2010 race after she had held the seat for three terms. She defeated him in 2004 after he held the seat for two terms.
The district is more Republican than in the past, as Keene and surrounding towns are now in District 2. District 5 now includes Hudson, which is a very Republican community, although Nashua remains a Democratic stronghold.
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Garry Rayno may be reached at email@example.com.