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New Hampshire Democrats make strides in House and local elections, challenging GOP control

New Hampshire Democrats make strides in House and local elections, challenging GOP control

A mural deemed an objectionable symbol of LGBTQ+ representation by State Senator Carrie Gendreau hangs on the side of building in Littleton, N.H. Gendreau was replaced on the Littleton Select Board this week by progressive candidate Kerri Harrington. (AP Photo/Nick Perry)

By Colin Booth

March 13, 2024

New Hampshire Democrats won several key elections on Tuesday, overperforming in two special elections for the State House and one seat on the Littleton Select Board formerly occupied by an infamous arch-conservative State Senator.

The special election wins — Jennifer Mandelbaum in Rockingham County’s 21st district (which includes Portsmouth ward 1 and Newington) and Erik Johnson’s in Strafford County’s 11th district (which includes Dover ward 4, Lee, and Madbury) are just the latest for House Democrats, whose election arm, the House Democrats Victory Campaign Committee, (DVCC) has delivered 10 victories for Democrats out of the past 13 House special elections.

“NH House Democrats are on the brink of the majority and continue to move ahead with strong momentum to win the House in November. Our caucus is strong, our campaign is firing on all cylinders, and we fully intend to flip the House this fall,” said DVCC Chair Rep. Laura Telerski.

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Both candidates carried more than 60% of the vote in both races. These latest results bring the current House makeup to 201 Republicans, 195 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 2 seats still vacant. 

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) — which has made significant investments in legislative races in New Hampshire — celebrated the wins and said it represented a preview of things to come in November’s election.

“Breaking the Republican trifecta in New Hampshire is a top priority for the DLCC this year – we have a path to targeting both legislative chambers alongside a competitive race for governor. The days of unchecked Republican control in New Hampshire are numbered,” said DLCC National Press Secretary Sam Paisley.

In Littleton, a space on the select board opened up earlier this year when State Senator Carrie Gendreau—infamous for her attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and her support of a public art ban in the town—decided not to run for another term on the select board.

Kerri Harrington, the leading progressive candidate in the race, won the seat on Tuesday. She said she was well-qualified to repair the damage caused by Gendreau.

“I am honored to have been supported by the voters of Littleton in the polls yesterday. Littleton is an absolute gem of a place and I am excited to be a part of the select board team… In the North Country, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and keep moving into the future with kindness and respect,” Harrington said.

Jordan Applewhite, a North Country activist and organizer who championed Harrington’s run, said the win was well earned.

“Kerri’s victory is a testament to running candidates who respect and connect with people all over the political spectrum. She put in long hours doing voter contact and meeting one on one with stakeholders in town government, the nonprofit sector, local business leaders, and faith communities. Everyone was invited to the party. She’s the most loving and joyful person I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. She’s punk rock Pollyanna, and that perfectly captured the spirit of Littleton.” said Applewhite.

Beck Kelly, organizational Leadership Development Coordinator at 603 Forward, an organization that recruits and trains young and working-age people to run for office in New Hampshire, said the wins were directly related to Granite Staters exhaustion of conservatives attempts to demonize certain groups and attack valued public institutions.

“These elections show that Granite Staters and the young candidates elected to lead remain united against the type of divisive and radical rhetoric that has attempted to push book bans and openly target the LGBTQ+ community,” Kelly said.

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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