Democrat Flips Another N.H. House Seat, Party Touts Trump Backlash

Sep 27, 2017

Democratic candidate Kari Lerner of Chester won a special New Hampshire House election in Rockingham County on Tuesday.

Lerner defeated Republican former state Representative James Headd of Auburn by 39 votes.

Headd has requested a recount. It will be Tuesday, 10 a.m., at the State Archives building in Concord. 

The election took place in District 4, which has 20 percent more registered Republicans than Democrats, according to the New Hampshire Democratic Party. President Donald Trump won the district by 23 points.

That pendulum swing had Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez cheering the victory as remarkable and a counterpoint to the President. It's no coincidence, he says. "In New Hampshire and across the country, the American people are rejecting Donald Trump's agenda and electing Democrats up and down the ballot," Perez said in a statement.

But how much of Lerner's victory was really related to Trump?

Listen to Peter Biello's conversation with UNH political scientist Dante Scala and get his take on the wave of Democrats winning local races in the state:

Close to 100 percent, according to Chris Galdieri, political science professor at Saint Anselm College.

"Donald Trump has activated Democrats in a way that I don't think any other President would have. I don't think if you had John Kasich or Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio in the White House - I don't think you would've seen the same sort of outpouring of opposition and activism," said Galdieri.

Lerner's district, Rockingham District 4, represents Auburn, Chester, and Sandown. The GOP retains majority control of the state House of Representatives, as well as the Senate and Executive Council.

It was the third time since May that Democrats flipped a House seat in a special election. Lerner, a real estate associate, was a first-time candidate. She will also be the first Democrat to hold the seat since 2006.

Galdieri expects Democrats will continue to use Trump as a rallying point.

"They can point to this and say, 'Look, we're winning, we're winning in unexpected places. 2018 can be a great year for our party if you get in the race, or if you make this donation, or if you come down to the local party headquarters and make phone calls, and stuff envelopes and knock on doors."

(This post was updated with the latest information on Headd's requested recount.)