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November 07. 2012 1:57AM

Lamontagne, supporters somber at loss


Ovide Lamontagne, with his wife, Bettie, looking on, makes his concession speech to supporters late Tuesday after being defeated by Maggie Hassan in the New Hampshire gubernatorial election. (Bruce Preston/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER - Ovide Lamontagne's supporters waited quietly for the Republican gubernatorial nominee to confirm what they had known for more than an hour.

Lamontagne was still cheered loudly when he appeared before hundreds of people who packed a hotel banquet room, but when he acknowledged the campaign was going to come up short, the room was silent.

"It looks like tonight is not going to be our night based on the numbers we're seeing right now. I'm disappointed in that obviously," Lamontagne said during his brief concession speech.

Media outlets had already called the race for Democrat Maggie Hassan about 90 minutes before Lamontagne stood at the podium and thanked his supporters, who stuck around to wish him well one more time.

Fran Wendelboe, a former state representative who drove down from New Hampton for what she hoped was a celebration, felt Lamontagne was right on in blaming the attack ads from Hassan's campaign and outside political action committees, who kept a steady barrage on the airwaves up until Tuesday.

"Ovide's biggest drawback is that he's too nice for politics," Wendelboe said with a laugh. "He was absolutely right. The things that they said were absolutely atrocious and disgusting."

Lamontagne said he and his wife, Bettie, would take some time to regroup after this loss. He did not mention any possible future in politics, but vowed to move forward in public service to the state.

"We're going to continue to work and make sure New Hampshire is a better state and always the best state for our children and young people," he said. "I wish you all well and I wish the people of New Hampshire well at this critical time in our state's history."

The early reports Tuesday favored Hassan, but Lamontagne's supporters held out hope up until late in the evening, watching results come in on television.

"I can't watch this," one woman said as she walked away from a group crowded around one of the TVs.

About an hour later, Lamontagne took the podium and said his brief farewell to the crowd and campaign staff.

"Let's go on to work together to make New Hampshire the best state to do business, the best state to raise a family and the best state to live free or die," he said.


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