New Hampshire Senate: Democrats Look to Solidify Majority

New Hampshire Democrats are showing a bit of friskiness as they compete today for the state senate seat that Republican Ted Gatsas gave up when ...
by | February 16, 2010

New Hampshire Democrats are showing a bit of friskiness as they compete today for the state senate seat that Republican Ted Gatsas gave up when he was elected mayor of Manchester.

John DiStaso of the Union Leader gives the essentials of the district:

On paper, the key factors favor the Republicans. They lead in voter registration, 14,121 to 12,494, with 12,540 undeclared, according to the latest figures available from the Secretary of State's office.

The district, which consists of Manchester wards 1, 2 and 12 and the towns of Bow, Candia, Dunbarton and Hooksett, has traditionally been Republican territory.

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Given the registration edge and the perception that voter sentiment these days is not in the Democrats' favor, it's surprising to some that they are playing so hard in this district. But they are.

Surprising or not, you can see why Democrats would like a win here. This seat (like the entire New Hampshire Senate) will be up again in November, but the race nonetheless has real significance. Democrats currently hold a 14-10 edge in the Senate. If Democrats could add to their majority in a Republican-leaning seat, the result would have to be at least somewhat deflating for the G.O.P.

You also can see why Democrats think they have a chance. Their candidate, State Rep. Jeff Goley, has stockpiled more than $50,000 in campaign cash, giving him a substantial financial edge over State Rep. David Boutin, the Republican nominee.

Goley and Boutin also have a history of running competitive races against one another. Boutin beat Goley in a race for state representative in 1996. Two years later, Goley bumped Boutin from office.

Still, the Republican inclinations of this district shouldn't be underestimated. Gatsas survived the incredible Democratic tide in New Hampshire in 2006 by 314 votes, when Democrats swept both houses of the legislature and both of the state's U.S. House seats.

The two candidates seem to have spent most of their time fighting over economic issues. Boutin's campaign has argued that only their candidate will fight tax increases, while Goley's supporters have noted their candidate's support for a higher minimum wage and other working class causes.

The race should come down to who can turn out his base. Gatsas' 2006 race is a good guide to what a tight contest in the district looks like. That year Gatsas survived by winning in Candia, Dunbarton and Hooksett. His Democratic opponent prevailed in Bow and all three Manchester wards. Today, the political geography likely will be similar, especially because Goley represents Manchester and Boutin represents Hooksett.

Also of note: It's snowing in New Hampshire today. So, will Goley's financial edge mean he's the one that can turn out voters in spite of the conditions or will fired up Republicans be the ones to brave the weather?

Coming a little later: a preview of today's race for Alabama House District 40

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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