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Pappas, Edwards gearing up hotly watched race

New Hampshire Union Leader
September 12. 2018 11:02PM
Eddie Edwards speaks to the crowd Tuesday night after beating state Sen. Andy Sanborn for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District. Gov. Chris Sununu is at left. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

MANCHESTER — Fresh from his victory in the 1st District Democratic primary for Congress, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas greeted supporters at his family-owned restaurant, the Puritan Backroom, with a pledge to “keep making the case on the issues that matter to the people of the Granite State.”

“We’re really proud of the effort we ran in this 10-month primary campaign, with 11 Democrats in the field,” he said. “I think the voters are best served by a positive, constructive conversation about the issues. We did that in our primary campaign and are going to stay focused on what we can do to bring people together around solutions.”

Pappas won a convincing victory over his closest competitor, veteran and former Obama official Maura Sullivan, with 42 percent of the vote to Sullivan’s 30 percent. The other nine candidates finished in single digits.

“I spoke with a number of them last night, including Maura Sullivan, and everyone was gracious and pledged their support,” said Pappas. “I was prepared to support any of the other candidates were they successful on Sept. 11.”

Pappas will now square off against Republican Eddie Edwards, who has served as South Hampton police chief and chief of enforcement for the state Liquor Commission.

Edwards beat state Sen. Andy Sanborn by more than 3,000 votes, 48 percent to 41 percent, in the Republican primary. Despite a primary campaign that featured personal attacks in both directions, Edwards predicted the party will unite behind his candidacy.

Edwards was barred from the state Republican Party’s only sanctioned debate when he refused to say he would support Sanborn if the Bedford Republican prevailed.

“If anything, I believe that will unite our Republican party, and the reason I say that is that the one thing we appreciate in New Hampshire is strong, independent people — people willing to stand on principle. We are a small state, but we deliver a mighty punch in this country when it comes to standing up for what’s right.”

Edwards said he would carry his primary message forward into the general election campaign, with a focus on smaller government and individual liberty.

“People I talk to across the political spectrum are interested in their liberty, their freedom,” he said, “so this race will come down to this: Do you want more government in your life or more individuals accountable for their own decisions.”

Democrat Chris Pappas, candidate for the 1st Congressional District celebrates his win with supporters at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester on Tuesday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Nearly 120,000 Democrats cast ballots statewide on Tuesday, compared to 77,000 Democratic ballots in the September primary two years ago. Approximately 92,000 Republican ballots were cast, compared to more than 110,000 in 2016.

“We’ve got to stop the Republican attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act, which will jeopardize the coverage that Granite Staters have,” said Pappas, summing up some of the points he plans to take into the general election. 

“We have to make sure we expand the doors of opportunity for the middle class, bring down the cost of college, protect our natural environment and the basic rights that everyone should be able to enjoy in this country.”

Edwards says he’s banking on making sharp distinctions on policy, not personality. He contrasts his career in law enforcement and the military, with Pappas’ experience in business and politics.

“I think we offer voters a real choice between what conservative policy looks like and what a Democratic policy looks like, and voters will make that choice,” he said. “I’m very excited to have that discussion with Chris, and show we are adults having a conversation about policy that can set a different tone for the country.”

The race is expected to attract national attention. “I really believe this race will be one that people will look at and say, ‘That’s how you do a general election contest,’” said Edwards. “Right now, families are actually divided over politics, and that’s not healthy for our country.”


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