Democrat Maggie Hassan defeated Republican Walt Havenstein to claim a second term as governor. Despite a solid showing by Havenstein it was one of the first state races to be called last night.
Standing before her supporters in Manchester, Hassan cited familiar priorities and stressed that much work remains to be done.
“Together we will make it easier for our families to get ahead, by continuing our healthcare expansion, by holding down the cost of higher education, and by restoring or increasing the minimum wage in New Hampshire,” she said.
Governors in New Hampshire are rarely tossed after a single term, but this race ended up being tougher than expected. Walt Havenstein started a thirty point underdog, but the race became increasingly closer as the season progressed.
“To go from a standing start – 7 percent name recognition and Judy didn’t know who they were – to bringing this race to a competitive finish is an incredible accomplishment,” remembered Havenstein as he conceded defeat, “and you should all be proud of what you have done.”
Havenstein, who led two defense contracting firms, including BAE systems, dropped more than $2 million dollars of his own money into this race, but even so top Republicans knew Havenstein faced long odds.
“This contest was a little bit David and Goliath as I think everybody knows,” said State Senator Jeb Bradley, “Our David, Walt Havenstein fought the fight of his life, and came very close tonight,”
Despite those long odds, the fact the race was decided by a closer margin, may have helped Republicans down ticket. They added to their majority in the Senate, and will likely end up in control of the House.
That could make Hassan’s stated agenda harder to achieve, and also put her ability to forge bipartisan solutions on major issues to the test.
“We will not always agree on the first pass,” she declared in her victory speech, “We will debate, sometimes vigorously. But if all of us maintain a willingness to solve problems, and a willingness to reach common sense solutions and compromise, then we will keep moving New Hampshire forward.”
Havenstein meanwhile says he may not be done with politics, and there’s little reason for Republicans to dislike a first time candidate who ran competitively against a popular governor.
Especially one willing to put his money where his mouth is.