Saturday November 3, 2012

CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- The state legislative races in Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Walpole and Westmoreland will provide an interesting scenario on Tuesday, as each feature some geographic changes.

Those towns currently are covered by three state House districts and two state Senate districts but redistricting will take effect next year and place those towns in one House district and one Senate district. That means even incumbent legislators have had to acquaint themselves with many new voters.

"I've been in for six years, and now I have a whole new group to introduce myself to," said state Rep. Tara Sad, D-Walpole, told the Reformer months ago.

Sad had represented Cheshire County's District 2, which includes her hometown and several other towns. But she's now in a redrawn House district that consists of Walpole, Chesterfield, Hinsdale and Westmoreland. She has never represented the latter three towns.

Other incumbents face similar adjustments. And the reshaped Cheshire District 1 means one sitting House member ultimately will lose his or her seat in the general election, since five incumbents are vying for four seats.

There are three challengers involved as well. The eight total House candidates, however, are evenly distributed between the Republican and Democratic parties with four nominations available in each party, resulting in zero contested primaries in the district.

On the Democratic side, Sad is joined by fellow incumbents Bill Butynski and Lucy McVitty Weber. Challenger Paul Berch is also running.

On the Republican ballot, House members Robert W. Moore Jr. and Edwin O. Smith are joined by Whitney Aldrich and Elaine H. Levlocke.

In the state Senate race, incumbent Molly Kelly is the lone Democrat on the ballot, while Richard A. Foote is alone on the Republican ballot.

Kelly is a three-term senator from Keene whose new district added Walpole and Westmoreland, towns that had been represented by Republican Sen. Bob Odell.

Jack Zeller bested Earl D. Nelson in the Republican primary for the position of sheriff and will face off against Democratic nominee Eli Rivera. Peter Graves defeated Bayard Tracy and will be the GOP candidate for county commissioner against Democrat John M. Pratt.

Colin Van Ostern won the Democratic nomination for executive councilor, as John Shea and Shawn Mickelonis fell well short.

Republican Rep. Charlie Bass will defend his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives against Democratic nominee Ann McLane Kuster. They are both running to represent New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District.

Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide Lamontagne won their party primaries and will duke it out to replace Democratic Gov. John Lynch, whose retirement will leave the seat open for the first time in a decade.

Both Hassan and Lamontagne are attorneys.

New Hampshire is considered a swing state, though it veered conservative in the 2010 election, and both major parties feel they have a good shot at winning.

This is Lamontagne's second try for the governor's office. He lost to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, now a U.S. senator, in 1996. He also ran unsuccessful campaigns for Congress in 1992 and U.S. Senate in 2010, according to the Associated Press.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.