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November 10. 2012 11:52PM

Garry Rayno's State House Dome: The election's over, but contests remain


 

The smoke has cleared and you can watch television again without suffering through a barrage of political attack ads.

Democrats in New Hampshire held on to the governor's office and reclaimed control of the House and the Executive Council, not to mention the two congressional seats.

Although Democratic state Senate candidates collectively garnered more votes than did Republicans, the GOP holds the majority, 13-11 (pending results of two recounts; see below). The leadership of the Senate will not change much as Senate President Peter Bragdon has already won the endorsement of his caucus and Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen of hers.

There will be significant changes, however, as 10 of the 24 Senate members will be freshmen, although three Democrats have been there before: Martha Fuller Clark of Portsmouth, Bette Lasky of Nashua and Peggy Gilmour of Hollis.

With the change from 19-5 to 13-11, there will be more Democrats on committees and more Democratic chairmen and vice chairmen of committees, all to be worked out between now and the opening of the Legislature in January.

Larsen said, "I haven't had an opportunity to meet with current Republican leaders, but I would assume they will look at increased chairmanships. There has to be a better balance in the committees."

The current Senate committees generally have only one Democrat among six members.

"I will push to recognize the skills of some of our members who have a high level of experience and a high level of talent," Larsen said.

The House is not as set as the Senate.

Former House Speaker Terie Norelli of Portsmouth is in a heated battle with Nashua Rep. David Campbell to be the Democrats' nominee to lead the House.

Campbell claims he has more incumbent Democrats supporting him than does Norelli, but there are more than 120 new Democrats in the House, and Norelli invested her time and energy, not to mention financial support through the House Democratic Political Action Committee, in many of them.

Conventional wisdom has it that Norelli will win the caucus, but the race for speaker may not stop there.

On the Republican side, House Speaker William O'Brien wants no part of being minority leader. That opens the door for others, including former Speaker Gene Chandler of Bartlett, current Deputy Speaker Pam Tucker of Greenland and Rep. Laurie Sanborn of Bedford, who resigned from her seat in Henniker to move to Bedford, where she also won.

At the end of the week, Tucker put out a statement noting she had the support of more than 70 Republican House members.

"I am humbled and honored to receive the support of so many of my fellow representatives from all over the state in such a short period of time," said Tucker.

This week will tell who the players are, as Republicans caucus on Thursday and Democrats on Saturday.

If the Democrats come out of their caucus as a united front, it will be a quiet few weeks until Organization Day Dec. 5, but if they don't, it will be a very interesting few weeks.

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LET THE RECOUNTS BEGIN: Recounts begin Tuesday and there are 23 of them.

There are two Senate races. In District 9, Democrat Lee Nyquist was edged out by Republican Andy Sanborn; and in District 16, incumbent David Boutin, the Republican, was ahead of Democrat Kathleen Kelley.

In the District 9 race, nearly 31,000 ballots from 14 communities will be recounted. This recount begins Tuesday at 8 a.m. in the Archives Building.

In the District 16 race, nearly 27,000 ballots from four towns and three Manchester wards are involved. This one will begin Nov. 20 at 9 a.m. in Legislative Office Building, Room 301.

The other lengthy recount will be for the Cheshire County Sheriff's race between Democrat Ed Rivera and Republican Earl D. Nelson. Rivera won by 27 votes. Nearly 38,000 ballots will have to be recounted.


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Garry Rayno may be reached at grayno@unionleader.com.


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