It was a repeat match-up with a very different outcome in the Second Congressional District. Democrat Ann McLane Kuster defeated Republican Congressman Charlie Bass by a roughly five point margin.
It didn’t take long for the atmosphere at Ann McLane Kuster’s Concord victory party to take on a victorious air. The crowd broke out into cheers at regular intervals as election results continued to favor Democrats. It wasn’t long after news media called the race for President Obama that Kuster took the podium amid chants of , “Annie! Annie! Annie," as raucous supporters rang cowbells.
This was the second time in a row Kuster has challenged Congressman Charlie Bass.
In an unusual move, she delivered her victory speech after Bass called her, but before he’d publicly conceded the race. While Kuster is well-known as a progressive Democrat, in her victory speech, she brought up bipartisanship.
“I promise that I will work hard every single day to move this country forward and get our government working for us once again. We all know it’s going to take common sense and compromise," Kuster said. "So here’s my commitment to you: I will work with anybody, from any party, on any issue, if I believe it’s in the best interests of this great state. And I will always stand up for what I believe in!"
During the campaign, Bass stressed his moderate record over seven off-and-on terms. He supported the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles budget, for example, and would break with his party on women’s health and environmental issues. And, he frequently referred to Kuster as “hyper-partisan.” In his concession speech, Bass said he hoped Kuster and other members of Congress would embrace bipartisanship.
“And I made a commitment in this election that if elected, I would work across the aisle to make sure that Americans don’t suffer in the next year or two because of the failures of the system in Washington," Bass said in an emotional concession speech. "Obviously, I’m not going to have that opportunity now, but I do want to hope that this action occurs. Because America depends on it.”
Back at the Kuster camp, supporters rushed to congratulate their candidate. Embracing yet another member of the crowd, and kissing her on the cheek, Kuster laughed, “There’s so many hugs and kisses! I’ve been doing this all night!"
But she did take a few moments away from the crowd to discuss her priorities once she gets to Congress.
“We’ve got to do something to avoid the fiscal cliff, and then we’ve got to focus on jobs for the middle class and making sure that every student has opportunity for higher education and making sure that we protect Medicare and Social Security," Kuster said.
Underlying the standard partisan jubilation during a wave election, however, was an historical element. With the election of Maggie Hassan to the governor’s office and Carol Shea-Porter in the First District, the state’s highest-level politicians are all women. Fifty-four year old Richard Longley lives in Shea-Porter’s district, but volunteered for Kuster and donated to her campaign. And he succinctly summed up the mood in the room.
“There’s a lot of estrogen in the air in New Hampshire,” he said with a smile.