Former state Rep. Kevin Avard upset Democrat incumbent Sen. Peggy Gilmour on Tuesday, adding at least one seat to the Republican’s majority in the New Hampshire Senate.
Avard took 50.8 percent of the 21,335 ballots cast in the District 12 contest to beat Gilmour by 323 votes. The narrow margin gives Republicans a 14-10 majority in the Senate, with at least one race that was too close to call.
In District 7, Democratic incumbent Andrew Hosmer had a lead of about 100 votes over Republican challenger Kathy Lauer-Rago.
Avard represented Hillsborough in the New Hampshire House after being swept into office with the Republican wave of 2010. He lost his re-election bid in 2012, but appears to have benefited from a strong anti-incumbent sentiment among voters this year.
Gilmour was first elected to the Senate in 2008. She lost to Republican Jim Luther in 2010, then beat Luther in a rematch to return to the Statehouse in 2012. District 12 encompasses Wards 1,2 and 5 in Nashua and the towns of Greenville, Hollis, Brookline, Mason, New Ipswich and Rindge.
The New Hampshire Republican State Committee spent about $170,000 on state Senate races in the final weeks of the campaign, although it spent only modestly – just over $10,000 - on the District 12 race.
The party’s investment in two races that went down to the wire in 2012 appears to have paid off, however.
In District 9, the NHGOP spent $37,000 to help Republican incumbent Andy Sanborn defeat New Boston attorney Lee Nyquist in a rematch of a 2012 contest. With 13 of 14 precincts reporting, Sanford had about 54 percent of the vote. Sanford won by just 213 votes following a recount in 2012.
In another rematch from 2012, Republican incumbent Sam Cataldo easily defeated Richard Leonard, 56-44 percent.
Republicans also retained two seats that were up for grabs following the retirement of two veteran lawmakers in the Senate.
In District 8, Jerry Little, former president of NH Bankers Association, defeated Linda Tanner, a retired teacher, to claim the seat held by Republican Bob Odell. And Regina Birdsell, a two-term member of the House, captured more than 612 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Kristi St. Laurent of Windham by an 11,547-7,268 margin.
In other Senate results:
- David Boutin, the Republican District 16 incumbent beat long-time Democratic Party activist and attorney Maureen Raiche Manning, 56-44 percent;
- In District 15, Democrat Dan Feltes took 65 percent of the votes cast to easily defeat Republican Lydia Harman of Warner to capture the seat vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Sylvia Larsen;
- David Watters, the Democrat incumbent in District 4, defeated former director of liquor enforcement Eddie Edwards, 56-44 percent.
- Senate President Chuck Morse, a Republican, beat Richard O’OShaughnessy in the District 22 race;
- Republican Nancy Stiles beat Chris Muns in District 24, 61-39 percent.