Primary Sets Stage for Potential Changes in State Senate's Balance of Power

Sep 14, 2016

Control of the New Hampshire Senate in January is up for grabs after primary voters cast ballots for their party’s nominees yesterday. The results provided some clarity to general election races that will define many of the state's political and policy debates over the next two years.  

In District 23, one of six seats vacated this year by Republican incumbents, Bill Gannon, a one-term state representative from Rockingham, won 39 percent of the vote to defeat three other candidates for the GOP nomination.

In the general election, Gannon faces another one-term House member, Democratic Rep. Alexis Simpson, for the Senate seat held by Russell Prescott, who is running for Executive Council.

Dan Innis took 34 percent of the vote in a four-way race to win the Republican primary for Senate District 24. The seat has been held by the retiring Nancy Stiles, a Republican, since 2010.

Innis, who lost the 2014 Republican primary for the 1st Congressional District, raised more money than his two closest competitors – mortgage broker Ray Tweedie and businessman Stephen Kenda – combined. He also received outside help from NH Priorities, a PAC created and funded by businessman Peter T. Paul.

Innis will face Rep. Tom Sherman of Rye, who has served two terms in the New Hampshire House.

Scott McGilvray, president of NEA-NH, easily won the Democratic primary for Senate District 16. McGilvray, who is running for elected office for the first time, will face state Rep. Joe Duarte for another open Senate seat vacated by a Republican, David Boutin.

In the Democratic primary for the Senate District 9 seat, Lee Nyquist, an attorney and town moderator in New Boston, took 53 percent of the vote to beat Jeanne Dietsch.

Nyquist will take on incumbent Sen. Andy Sanborn for the third time. Sanborn narrowly defeated Nyquist in 2012, and he took 53 percent of the vote against him 2014.

In Senate District 1, Dorothy “Dolly” McPhaul, an anti-Northern Pass activist, won the GOP primary, beating two-term state Rep. Leon Rideout with just over 52 percent of the vote. She’ll face Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeff Woodburn.

Bob Guida, a former member of the New Hampshire House, is the GOP nominee in Senate District 2, the seat held by gubernatorial candidate Jeanie Forrester. Guida beat state Rep. Brian Gallagher and will face Democrat Charlie Chandler, a retired attorney and former state representative from Warren, in November.

As of midnight, less than one-half of 1 percent separated retired marketing executive Jim Beard and retired nurse Ruth Ward in their battle for GOP nomination for the Senate District 8 seat.

The winner will face John Garvey, an attorney and law professor. The seat has been open since April, when Jerry Little was confirmed as Gov. Maggie Hassan’s nominee for state banking commissioner.   

Jay Kahn, former vice president for finance and planning at Keene State College, won the Democratic primary for Senate District 10, which had been held by Democrat Molly Kelley since 2006.

Kahn, who had the backing of several labor unions, defeated state Reps. Kris Roberts and Ben Tilton, with more than 63 percent of the vote. He’ll face Chester LaPointe in November.

Ross Terrio appears to have squeaked past former state Rep. George Lambert to win the GOP primary for Senate District 18. The winner will face two-term incumbent Democrat Sen. Donna Soucy, who beat Lambert by six points in 2014.

Executive Council races take shape

In Executive Council contests, attorney Andru Volinsky beat John Shea and Shawn Mickelonis in the Democratic primary for the District 2 seat held by Colin Van Ostern. Shea held the seat from 2006 to 2010.

Volinsky will face Sam Cataldo,  a Republican state senator who ran unopposed for the GOP council nomination.

With  Councilor Chris Sununu seeking the Republican nomination for governor, the District 3 Executive Councilor is up for grabs. In the GOP primary, five-term State Sen. Russell Prescott beat Rockingham County Commissioner Kevin Coyle.

In the Democratic primary, Salem attorney Beth Roth beat Derry Town Councilor Joshua Bourdon .

Executive Council District 1 incumbent Joe Kenney easily defeated a primary challenge to set up a third general election race against Grafton County Commissioner Mike Cryans, a former banker and executive director of Headrest.

Kenney beat Cryans in a special election to replace former executive councilor Ray Burton in early 2014 and again in November 2014.  

​Manchester Alderman-At-Large Joseph Levasseur  is the Republican nominee for Executive Council District 4. He beat Jim Adams, chair of the advocacy group Granite State Taxpayers, and will face incumbent Democrat Chris Pappas.