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Democrat Spagnuolo wins Laconia special legislative election

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 27. 2018 9:15PM

Philip Spagnuolo (File photo)

LACONIA — State Democrats continued their winning ways in special legislative elections Tuesday taking another seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that was Republican before becoming vacant, this one in Laconia.

First-time candidate and past substance abuser Phil Spagnuolo Jr. defeated Republican nominee Les Cartier, a retired first responder who had the vocal backing of Gov. Chris Sununu and leading Republicans.

The final outcome gave the six-ward race to Spagnuolo, 968-841.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff of Concord said Spagnuolo’s personal story resonated.

“Representative-elect Spagnuolo is the perfect advocate at just the right time,” Shurtleff said in a statement.

“He earned this seat by connecting with voters who share his concerns about the growing opioid crisis and our ability as a state to respond to it. Phil knows firsthand how crucial Medicaid Expansion is to so many Granite Staters and I know he will fight to reauthorize it.”

Spagnuolo received nearly 54 percent of the vote in a district President Trump won over Hillary Clinton by about 13 percent in November 2016.

This also became the fifth, New Hampshire House seat to flip from Republican to Democratic since President Trump’s election. Spagnuolo replaces nine-term Republican State Rep. Donald Flanders, who died last year. It also gives Democrats unusual bragging rights in the city delegation where the split will now be 3-2 in favor of Democrats who represent Laconia in the House. The GOP will still hold a 43-vote majority over Democrats in the 400-person House of Representatives.

In this race, Democrats outraised Republicans by more than a 2-1 margin thanks largely to the Let America Vote organization led by former Missouri Secretary of State and possible 2020 presidential candidate Jason Kander.

The group raised nearly $4,000 and did online ads directly for Spagnuolo’s election along with direct mail and for making phone calls to targeted voters.

Spagnuolo raised $1,740 on his own according to his latest report, including $500 from the Granite State Teamsters, $250 from Executive Councilor and congressional hopeful Chris Pappas of Manchester and $400 from former State Sen. Andrew Hosmer of Laconia.

Cartier did not report any campaign contributions and spent $1,237 of his own money on signs, stamps and palm cards.

The New Hampshire Republican State Committee raised $1,240 and spent nearly all of it on printing by Spectrum Monthly, a Manchester-based consulting firm. The Committee to Elect N.H. House Republicans gave the GOP $1,000 for that effort.

Gov. Sununu and GOP congressional candidate Eddie Edwards of Dover sponsored meet-and-greets with Cartier and the state GOP has also produced web ads promoting him.

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