CONCORD, NH — In a primary race that proved nothing is ever a sure thing in politics, Republican Charlie Bass barely eked out a win over conservative underdog Jennifer Horn early Wednesday morning, setting the stage for his matchup with liberal Democratic nominee Ann McLane Kuster in the November election.
In a three-way race with Republican Bob Giuda, Bass’s victory looked uncertain well into the night, when only a single percentage point separated him and Horn. At 12:30 a.m., about two hours after Kuster declared victory in her Democratic primary, Bass told supporters that the gap between him and Horn was growing, and he expected to win his race. At 1 a.m., the Associated Press called the race for Bass.
But in a race where Bass had long been considered a frontrunner by the national media and was running against two opponents splitting the conservative vote, to face a serious challenge from a woman who didn’t have the finances to run television ads must prove a concern for state Republicans.
While Bass did eventually secure the win, there was a point in the night when supporters were quiet and worried, and reporters started drafting stories in case of a Horn victory. Probably not how the former Congressman wanted to stage his comeback.
But when Bass did take the stage, there began to emerge glimpses of the former six-term Congressman who won kudos for his pragmatic leadership and steady, moderate approach to politics. While it’s not his style to dazzle a crowd, he seemed newly energized as he said of national Democrats, ”Madam Speaker, start packing your bags.”
Cheers from moderate Republican supporters — one of whom said Bass has always been “good old Charlie” — buoyed the candidate’s oft-repeated speech about returning to politics to fix Washington and cut government spending.
Bass spoke of making this election “Kuster’s last stand” with a conviction that wasn’t present in his earlier deliveries of the line, and marked the first stages of what will likely be a close and contested November election, in which Bass will try to paint Kuster as a radical, left-wing liberal, and Kuster will portray him as a washed-up D.C. insider.
“I couldn’t stand aside and let this district be represented by two Democrats who are so liberal they make Obama look like Glen Beck,” he said.
And with the GOP nomination called for Bass, his supporters can finally turn their efforts to the ultimate prize: a win on November 2.
Check back later today for Top 5 takeaway points from the race, and photos from the night.
CONCORD, NH — Democrat Ann McLane Kuster easily coasted to victory this evening in her primary match against Katrina Swett. On Tuesday night, with 35 percent of precincts reporting, Kuster had won 68 percent to Swett’s 31 percent.
Although the numbers will continue to trickle in, Kuster was euphorious Tuesday night when she greeted supporters in Concord, speaking of her desire for unity and bipartisanship in her November race.
“Voters will have a crystal clear choice in November.”
Kuster congratulated opponent Swett on well-fought race, and expressed her excitement to beat the Republicans in November.
“She is a strong, intelligent, and fearless voice for our state. And I promise you Katrina, I will continue that.”
Kuster will face a Republican opponent in the general election, but at 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the GOP race was too close to call.
Frontrunner Charlie Bass was locked in the race with opponent Jennifer Horn, with neither side declaring victory or defeat. Bass seemed confident that he would pull off the win, but votes will continue to be tallied into the night.
Check back later on Wednesday for updates on the GOP race, photos from Tuesday, and analysis of the crazy primary night.
NEWPORT, NH — Less than 24 hours before the polls will open in New Hampshire, Republican state legislator Beverly Rodeschin is doing everything she can to get Republican Congressional candidate Jennifer Horn nominated.
Ushering friends and acquaintances into Village Pizza on Main Street, she surveys the crowd to make sure everyone has a seat and enough pizza, and tells them to get excited for Horn’s arrival. She spoke excitedly of her candidate’s endorsement by the Union Leader. But privately, she said she’s not sure how Horn will fare tomorrow.
“Do you think she’s nervous?” she asks me.
Horn certainly didn’t seem nervous at the packed event in Newport on Monday. She hugged friends and supporters, gave glowing recommendations of the pizza and spoke passionately about why she should be the Republican nominee in November. She proved once again that she’s a strong campaigner who does an excellent job connecting with voters and making them believe in her words.
But with very little money to compete, and facing a challenge from opponent Bob Giuda to capture the conservative vote, a Horn victory on Tuesday isn’t looking likely. Almost all pundits and political reporters in the state have called the race for Republican Charlie Bass, the moderate former Congressman and fundraising leader.
The national media has tentatively predicted that Bass, a moderate, will appeal to more voters than Ann McLane Kuster, the liberal Democrat likely to be his opponent in November. But in talking to Rodeschin, it’s clear that Bass will have a hard time winning the state’s conservative base and coasting to victory in the general, should he win on Tuesday.
“He’s not a conservative,” Rodeschin said. She said she saw his performances in the GOP debate last week, and thought he looked “terrible.” She said she supports Horn because of the candidates’s clear conservative beliefs and likability among voters, although Giuda would be her second choice.
So would she vote for Bass in November, should he become the nominee?
“I would leave that spot blank,” she said, noting that she would still vote for Republicans in other state races.
It’s possible that Bass could still pull off a win with the support of the state’s independent and moderate voters who find Kuster (or Katrina Swett, should she win on the Democratic side) too liberal.
But all the talk of Republicans nationwide getting out to vote and changing the course of the 2010 midterms will be a non-factor in the 2nd district race if New Hampshire’s conservatives like those at Village Pizza on Monday feel that both candidates on the ballot are too centrist to win their vote — or even a trip to the polls.
KEENE, NH — As Paul Hodes shouted about taking on the Republicans in November to an enthusiastic, applauding Democratic crowd in Keene on Sunday, it was clear that liberals in New Hampshire won’t go down without a fight.
Hodes is the Congressman in the 2nd district vacating his seat to run as the the sole Democratic nominee for the Senate. A relatively popular Representative among liberals, he trounced Jennifer Horn in his 2008 reelection and made headlines beating then-incumbent Charlie Bass in 2006.
But the community support he received Sunday showed the degree to which he has benefitted from running without opposition as the Democratic nominee, and provides an interesting contrast with the race between Democrats vying for his seat, which has been a bitter, at times unpleasant, struggle.
On Sunday he recieved enthusiastic support from a clearly very liberal crowd — many of whom, incidentally, were sporting Kuster stickers.
The Congressman, who has run against (and beaten) two of the three Republican candidates running in the 2nd district race, thinks whoever the Democrats elect on Tuesday will run a strong November fight against the conservatives.
“We’re going to have on Tuesday, or whenever the results come in, a tremendous Democratic candidate,” he said.
Check back this evening for a post on Democratic candidate Ann McLane Kuster’s appearance at Keene State.