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Jul 8, 2015 7:46 PM

Landrigan: NH GOP makes it 3 special elections in a row - trend or outlier for 2016?


CONCORD - Seabrook Republican Rio Tilton wins a special election seat to the State House. That's three straight for the GOP and it poses this question.

Are we looking at a trend and will New Hampshire Democrats have a hard time taking back control of the legislature in 2016?

The 19-year-old Tilton’s big win despite being on social media smoking pot and calling it a gateway drug.

Does this three-peat for the GOP say anything about state politics in New Hampshire going forward?

"Governor Hassan’s destructive and irresponsible vetoing of the budget has had a direct impact on the overwhelming results that we saw,’’ said GOP State Chairwoman Jennifer Horn of Nashua.

Republican Dennis Green of Kingston got 61 percent in April, Yvonne Dean Bailey took her seat with 52 percent in May and now Tilton with a 67 percent walk-off win on Tuesday.

But Democratic Chair Ray Buckley says these losses were no surprise.

"The fact that these were heavily Republican districts and were held by a Republican doesn’t really say that much,’’ Buckley said.

GOP Chair Horn says special election wins have turned into a presidential year trend.

"Let’s look at the last three. In 2004, Republicans hold the Legislature even though George W. Bush and Gov. Craig Benson lose the state to Democrats.

"Four years later, Democrat Barack Obama and a popular Gov. John Lynch keep control at the state house.

In 2012, Obama and Maggie Hassan help Democrats take back control of the house they lost two years earlier.

"I am confident that after over a decade of Democratic leadership in the corner office that the people of New Hampshire are tired of it; that they are looking for a new direction.

Democrats did win a string of special elections in swing districts in 2011 which observers believe led to unseating conservative House Speaker Bill O’Brien.

"This is really showing that once again New Hampshire is a battleground state. We knew that was going to happen in the presidential cycle but we are feeling pretty good,’’ Buckley added.

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