Perhaps the biggest surprise of last night was not that Democrat Jackie Cilley lost to her rival Maggie, Hassan, but by how big a margin. What was supposed to be a close race turned out to be a run-away.
This primary season the question has been: will democrats elect a candidate who hasn’t pledged to veto an income or sales tax? From the outset, Cilley has made not taking such a pledge the centerpiece of her campaign.
But with the very first poll returns it was clear that Cilley was in for a rough night. Later she took the podium to concede the race.
Democrat Maggie Hassan won the Democratic nomination for Governor at the Puritan Conference Center in Manchester last night. She says she’s ready to face Ovide Lamontagne, whom she called “the tea party favorite.”
Hassan brought up issues from payday loans, to education and womens’ health:
Under my opponent’s version of live free or die, abortion would be illegal, even for the victims of rape or incest, and women and their doctors would be treated as criminals.
If Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jackie Cilley thought being a Berlin native would give her a crucial edge in the North Country she was wrong.
Cilley did win in Berlin but her 546 votes were only 56 percent of the total.
Down the road in neighboring Gorham she snared 55 percent of the votes.
But it was downhill from there despite spending five consecutive days touring the North Country from Littleton to Colebrook and Pittsburg and then over to Berlin and the communities along the Androscoggin River.
Last night Ovide Lamontagne turned a commanding lead in the polls into the Republican nomination for governor. His main challenger, first-time candidate Kevin Smith, conceded the race early in the evening.
In the race against a well-known candidate like Lamontagne, Smith was something of a long shot. And he acknowledged that he was the unknown candidate.
Maggie Hassan gave her acceptance speech at her victory party tonight in Manchester, comparing her stance on free kindergarten and abortion rights with her now-opponent, Ovide Lamontagne. Her biggest round of applause came when she announced that "women should be able to make our own health-care decisions." She continued by thanking her family and supporters.
A crowd is forming at the Hassan victory party, although not all attendees are entirely enthusiastic. Alex Cohen of Dover came to the Hassan victory party with his friend Linda, a campaign volunteer from Newmarket. He's sporting a Hassan campaign sticker, but says "I always find myself voting for the lesser of two evils."
A little after 9 p.m., candidate Kevin Smith told supporters, "Tonight I have called Ovide Lamontagne to congratulate him," on winning GOP primary for governor. He thanked supporters and asked them to back Lamontagne in the general election.
It's not exactly a rambunctious crowd here at the Derryfield in Manchester. Folks are just eating, talking or checking their phones for the latest poll numbers. Smith himself hasn't shown up yet and there hasn't been any spontaneous cheering or chanting.
Supporters don't seem anxious so much as resigned - but they're still hopeful. They're also hungry, and not just for the food - there has been a real lack of polling updates. Those with smartphones are making good use of them, but several supporters are turning to members of the press for the latest numbers.
Long-time friends and supporters of Maggie Hassan are early attendees at the Hassan camp at the Puritan Conference Center in Manchester. Nancy Rockwell, Hassan's pastor, waits to give Hassan a bouquet of pink roses, with Chaplain Sue Goodspeed.
Across the room, long-time friends of Hassan's family Sue Ratnoff and Lynda Beck gaze at a television, above the podium. "We're more than friends," Ratnoff says. "We know she's honest. And by the way, she'd make a terrific governor."
Kevin Smith supporters finally outnumber media and campaign staff. People are hitting the bar, and the gourmet food buffet featuring tomato basil crackers, tabouli and hummus. Still, the Derryfield Country Club is far from full.
Early numbers are coming in with 5% of the precincts reporting and Smith is already far behind his primary opponent Ovide Lamontange. Smith has about 2.5 thousand votes (23.5%) and Lamontange has about 8 thousand (75.4%).