A relieved and excited Catherine Rombeau will head to the State House as Bedford’s newest representative after securing her win during a recount on Monday.
“I am thankful to Bedford voters for engaging with me and trusting me to be their representative in Concord this term,” Rombeau said a few hours after she was, once again, announced as the winner of last week’s special election to fill the vacant House seat.
After the recount, Rombeau, a Democrat, picked up three votes, while her Republican opponent, Linda Rea Camarota, lost one vote from what local officials had initially declared after the Sept. 7 election.
The new tally from the recount was 2,328 votes for Rombeau and 2,287 for Camarota — a new margin of victory with 41 votes as opposed to the initial difference of 37 votes.
“Recounts are an important part of the democratic process and I want to extend my gratitude to New Hampshire and Bedford election officials who administered the recount with quality and precision,” said Rombeau. “I look forward to serving the people of Bedford with distinction and expect to take up the seat at the maximum speed the process allows.”
She will fill the post previously held by Rep. David Danielson (R-Bedford). Danielson died on May 22 at the age of 74; he had been a state representative since 2012.
The recount at the State Archives Building in Concord took less than 90 minutes to complete.
“There were very few issues with this recount,” said Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan.
The 29% turnout was impressive coming a day after Labor Day for an office that pays only $100 a year.
“Both sides clearly did a really great job of turning out their voters,” Scanlan said.
“We did the work and ran an incredibly strong campaign that directly engaged with thousands of voters,” agreed Rombeau. “From public education to healthcare and smart fiscal planning, Bedford voters made their priorities known with their votes in this election.”
One thorny issue that proved to be a moot one was the matter of a single absentee ballot that local officials had rejected.
Scanlan said Bedford election officials reached out and contacted absentee voters who had not properly turned in their paperwork. They were then offered the chance to come in and fix their absentee ballot.
The person who cast this absentee ballot was out of town on Election Day and could not be reached, Scanlan said.
“At the outset of the recount, we set that ballot aside just in case the election determined it could have made a difference one way or the other,” he explained.
Had the recount produced a one-vote margin for either candidate, Scanlan said the Ballot Law Commission would have decided whether it should be counted.
“The recount came up with very few changes, which is also noteworthy since election officials had to print extra ballots because of the high turnout,” Scanlan added. “All of those extra ballots had to be counted by hand on Election Day.”
Both candidates had plenty of financial support in this special election.
Several socially and fiscally conservative groups paid for mailings and consulting work on Camarota’s behalf. She was not available for comment on Monday.
“This is a very important vote for our community. Both camps worked hard on getting the vote out,” Camarota said last week while standing outside of the polls with her supporters. Camarota previously served as a state representative from 2018-2020.
Meanwhile, the Washington-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in mid-August funneled more than $55,000 to in-state groups to help Rombeau.
The Committee to Elect House Democrats got $29,200 of that money and the Senate Democratic Caucus got $25,000.