There was a big surprise waiting for New Hampshire politicos this morning. As the final votes were tallied in the four hundred races for the State House of Representatives, the Democrats had won a 221 to 178 majority with one race still undecided.
Prospects of a divided state legislature has both sides singing about bipartisanship.
Given that many of the races for the NH House are decided by fewer than a hundred voters, there will likely be a couple dozen recounts.
But as the dust begins to settle, Democratic House Leader Terie Norelli says the Democratic lead will hold.
Norelli: I think that people are ready to have common sense here in Concord. They are ready for Democrats and Republicans to sit down and civilly discuss the issues that are before us and to come up with solutions.
But What Solutions?
They certainly will have to discuss. Republicans still hold the Senate by a two vote margin. That’s got everyone throwing the B-Word around: bipartisanship. But it’s easier said than done.
Just as an example, Democratic leader Norelli says one of the House priorities will be restoring the cuts to the university system. But Republican Senate President Peter Bragdon says many of his party ran saying no increased taxes.
Bragdon: Right, right and I think the question on the Republican side is going to be ok, how do you propose paying for that.
He says new spending will have to be balanced by cuts elsewhere.
Bragdon: Where you have the House controlled by one party and the Senate controlled by another it’s going to have to be stuff that both sides agree to that eventually is going to be passed.
That could also mean that a lot less will get done.
Of course it’s too soon to start making any real predictions, especially since the balance of power isn’t set for sure yet. In Senate District 9, Democrat Lee Nyquist lost to Republican Andy Sanborn by less than 200 votes, and has requested a recount. If he wins, the Senate will be divided 12-12, which is when things would start to get really interesting.
Democrats Make Inroads To Republican Strongholds
Democrats had a very strong night across the board, driven by gains in traditionally Republican areas of the State, says House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli.
Norelli: We picked up seats in Carroll County and Belknap County, which currently have no democratic house members, we also picked up seats in some non-traditional Rockingham county districts, two in Derry, and one which may be for the first time in Londonderry.
While Democrats may have taken the house, Republicans managed to hold the Senate 13-11.
Norelli was the Speaker of the House from 2006 to 2010, and is hoping to have that job again. Nashua Democrat David Campbell is expected to challenge her for that position.