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March 19. 2013 8:45PM

Bill O'Neil wins Manchester 's Ward 2 special House election

MANCHESTER - Bill O'Neil, the president of a telecommunications workers union local, won a special election held Tuesday night for the seat that represents Ward 2 in the New Hampshire House.

O'Neil, a Democrat, bested Republican Win Hutchinson, 297 to 260, in results announced Tuesday night at the polling place, Hillside Middle School. Hutchinson is a one-term state representative who had lost reelection in November. The seat opened up when Robert Thompson, a Democrat, moved to Florida after the election.

O'Neil is president of the 715-member International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2320.

"I got help from the union members, lots of friends, lots of family. I knocked on a lot of doors, met a lot of people," he said.

He said he believed voters were upset with the last two years under former Republican House Speaker William O'Brien, and "they probably wanted a fresh look."

The election was held in a school that was closed for the day because of a storm that dropped more than 8 inches of snow throughout the day.

"We tried, but I'm sure the storm hurt us," said Hutchinson. He said his ideal turnout relied on older people, and many of them did not venture out in the storm.

Ward 2 is located on the northeast side of the city.

In pre-election comments, O'Neil said he would likely support a gas tax, where Hutchinson said he was leaning against it.

However, the election was dominated by mailers from independent organizations. Organized labor and Granite State Progress sent out literature in support of O'Neil.

Meanwhile, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire sent out literature trying to link O'Neil to higher electric rates and the Obama health care law. In earlier news articles, O'Neil said his local comprises telecommunication workers who had nothing to do with the higher electric rates and is far removed from the national health care law.

Hutchinson said he had nothing to do with the independently produced mailer.

But O'Neil on Tuesday said the negative nature of the mailers hurt Hutchinson. Republicans friends, O'Neil said, told him they were turned off by them and voted for him on account of them.

mhayward@unionleader.com

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