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November 07. 2012 10:51AM

Sam Cataldo wins District 6 state Senate seat


Sam Cataldo, the new state senator from District 6. (John Quinn/Union Leader Correspondent)


Richard Leonard (John Quinn, Union Leader)

ROCHESTER – In yet another close race, a state representative from Farmington was elected to fill the vacancy left by fellow Republican Sen. Fenton Groen Tuesday night.

Rep. Sam Cataldo defeated Democrat Richard “Rich” Leonard 12,760-12,127 in the race for the District 6 seat in the N.H. Senate. In the end, it came down to 633 votes - or 2.5 percent of the 24,887 those cast in six communities.

While Leonard, of New Durham, won in Rochester – 7,055 to 6,277 – which is the largest community in the district, it wasn’t enough to defeat Cataldo in the race.

Cataldo defeated Leonard 1,965-1,172 in Alton, 1165-1027 in Barnstead, 1,459-1,311 in Farmington, 1079-891 in Gilmanton and 815-671 in New Durham.

Cataldo, 75, who served in the N.H. House of Representatives from 2002 to 2006, was re-elected in 2010 as one of the legislators representing the towns of Barrington, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham and Strafford.

If nothing else, Cataldo said he’s proven to be persistent, especially since he plans to continue his work reducing state spending.

After defeating former Rochester Mayor Dick Green – who previously represented District 6 in the state Senate, Cataldo said he enjoyed the campaign.

“I like going door-to-door,” Cataldo said, adding it was a pleasurable challenge to meet the people of the district.

He spent most of Tuesday traveling between the polling locations to emplace signs and to have one last chance to speak to voters.

Leonard, 61, who works as a pharmacy manager in the Alton Hannaford, owns a small farm in New Durham. He is the father of four children and has seven grandchildren.

While campaigning outside the Ward 6 polls at the Elk’s Hall in Rochester Tuesday, Leonard said he’s worked hard to gain support in Rochester, the largest community in the district, while getting his name out in the other towns.

“A moderate Republican lost in Rochester so I hope a moderate Democrat does well,” Leonard said Tuesday. Either way, Leonard said he feels satisfied with the campaign.

“I think the message is getting out,” Leonard said, adding he’s stressed the importance of affordable health care and how the state must use education to help revitalize the state’s workforce.

After his wife was diagnosed with cancer, Leonard learned the importance of health insurance, especially when his family almost lost everything. Before his wife, Phebe, died in 2011, they were able to obtain insurance through Hannaford. As a result, Leonard supports the Affordable Care Act, according to his website: http://richardleonard2012.com.

“No one should ever be faced with economic disaster due to accessibility or affordability of health care,” Leonard wrote on the site.

Additionally, Leonard said the state must invest in the future.

“I believe quality public education for N.H. is our most important investment for our state's economic future,” Leonard wrote on his website.

After serving in the Senate for the past two years, Groen, of Rochester, announced in May he would not seek reelection in order to focus his efforts as president of his family’s construction business. Groen was one of six Republicans – who helped make up an historic 19 member supermajority - who decided to leave the senate this year.

The district previously included the communities of Barrington, Madbury, Nottingham, Rochester and Somersworth.


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