This is unofficial, but barring any more filings which arrive at the Secretary of State’s office with a Friday postmark, we now know exactly how many primary contests there will be come September, and the number appears to be higher than usual.
The parties still have another 24 hours to fill seats which individuals failed to file for; the Deputy Secretary and I are in accord that this is the excess number:
For State Representative, Republicans will have 59 primary contests in the 203 districts; Democrats will have 17 contests in the 203 districts. You would have to check on the number of Reps in each district to get a better breakdown, but it appears that Republicans have an excess of 83 candidates for State Rep; that’s how many will lose in the primary.
Among those with a primary challenge will be House Speaker Bill O’Brien. Both he and his former Chief of Staff Bob Mead have filed for the two member Hillsborough 5 seats including Mt. Vernon and New Boston. However, a third filing came in at the same time, John Quinlan, also of Mt. Vernon. One of the three will be eliminated in the primary. The other two will advance to face two New Boston Democrats, Kary Jencks and David Woodbury.
Are people talking about these races? Well, as most of you know, I usually stay in and read over the weekend, but with my brother here this weekend, I was engaged in a major outdoor project (it’s called mowing and trimming), and as neighbors walked by, the topic of politics seemed to be on the mind of at least one man whose number one priority is to get rid of O’Brien. Of course, this is in highly Republican Ward 8 (south Manchester), not Mt. Vernon, so as they say in German, “Wir warden sehen.”
Of the 24 State Senate districts, Democrats have only on primary, in the “can’t lose” Democratic district 5 (Hanover, Lebanon, and Claremont) where Matt Houde is stepping down. Hanover Rep David Pierce would have to be considered a favorite over former Claremont Rep Sandy Harris in that one. I happen to like both of them; and during some quite time, remind me to tell you a story of how Rep. Harris put me in my place (rightly so) on the House floor one time. Hint—How I can count the ways.
For the thankless task of advancing in District 5, Republican Represenative Joe Osgood is being challenged by Cynthia Howard, both of Claremont. Claremont is about the same size as Lebanon, but even with fewer people, Hanover is likely to drive this district since its turnout is so much heavier.
Prediction—Senator—if not President—Pierce.
Just like O’Brien in the House, Senate President Peter Bragdon gets a primary challenge. In District 11 (Milford, Merrimack, Amherst), the Milford President will face Daniel Dwyer from Merrimack (which has about twice as many people). Democrats were unable to file any candidate in this district.
The other six Republican primaries are mostly in districts in which incumbents are stepping down including a three way race to replace John Gallus in District 1 (the North Country) and a three way race to replace Senator White in District 9 (Bedford). I would favor Littleton psychologist Debi Warner over Mark Evans of Berlin and Frank Dumaine of Colebrook.
Representative Ken Hawkins faces former District 7 Senator Andy Sanborn (who has moved) and Michael Kenney in this one. All three are from Bedford which dominates this district even as it has moved westward giving Democrat Lee Nyquist an outside shot come November. Prediction—Senator Hawkins.
Former Senator and Rochester Mayor Dick Green has entered the District 6 race (Groen is retiring). In fact, his entry has driven State Rep Peter Bolster, of Alton, out of the race back into a State Rep race. Green would have to be considered a heavy favorite against Representative Sam Cataldo of Farmington.
Also dropping his bid for a Senate race and returning to a crowded House race is Goffstown Rep. John Hikel in District 20 (polegate, and I don’t mean pole as in the ballot box, most likely had a great deal to do with this decision). That leaves Manchester Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo uncontested to face long-time incumbent Lou D’Allesandro in what should be rated a toss-up.
For the newly created District 7 seat, William Grimm, of Franklin, faces Joshua Youssef, of Laconia, for the right to meet Democrat Andrew Hosmer, of Laconia, in November in what should be another toss-up.
To replace Jack Barnes in District 17, House Human Service Chair John Reagan, of Deerfield, is being challenged by Howard Pearl, of Loudon. Reagan should become the next senator here.
Finally, in District 23, which has become much more Republican due to redistricting, incumbent Russell Prescott is challenged by Dennis Acton whom I’ve got to like. He reads this blog on a regular basis…or so I’m told.
There are two Republican races for the five Executive Council seats and one on the Democratic side. The venerable Ray Burton, of Bath, has drawn a challenge from Gerard Thibodeau, of Rumney, in district one. No odds maker would even take bets on that one. That’s how far off the charts it is. (Is this the same Thibodeau who was Manchester City GOP chair in a former life? I believe it is…That name recognition won’t help much against King of the North Country Burton).
Three Democrats from different parts of the new and highly Democratic District 2 have stepped forward—insider (not a compliment by the way) Colin Van Ostern from Concord, former Councilor John Shea, of Nelson (remember he didn’t even know he’d won a few years back), and Shawn Mickelonis, of Rochester. The Concord area should dominate this, so give the edge to the insider.
To replace Ray Wieczorek, a retiring venerable one, it’s State Senator Tom DeBlois against Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns and Gatsas-backed businessman Chuck Rolecek. As much as I like and admire Ted, his endorsements have more often turned out like the kiss of death, so I’ll go with DeBlois here to face former Rep Chris (he of the Back Room Pappi) in November.
The only surprise at the top of the ticket was Ward 5 School Board primary loser Robert Tarr’s quixotic run for Governor on the GOP side (don’t expect him to be invited to any debates).
Frank Guinta faces two opponents and Charlie Bass for in GOP Congressional primaries. Democrat Carol Shea Porter has drawn one opponent (name him or her for extra points); only Ann McLane Kuster gets a pass in the primary.
Tomorrow, a look at who’s not running in the House.
The answer is Diane Soracco, of Manchester. Next question—Anybody know her? Not I said the cat.