Ayotte holding narrow lead over Lamontagne
posted at 9:30 am on September 15, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
The final primary night may last a little while longer, at least in New Hampshire, where the Republican nomination has resulted in a photo finish. With over 85% of the precincts counted, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte has taken a lead of less than a thousand votes over Ovide Lamontagne. The final result may be so close that it will take a recount to confirm:
Five hours after polls closed in New Hampshire, former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte was clinging to a 1-point lead over surging local tea party favorite Ovide Lamontagne early Wednesday morning in the Granite State’s Republican Senate primary.
As of 1:45 a.m., Ayotte led 38.4 percent to Lamontagne’s 37.3 percent with 81 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.
Should she hold on to her slim margin, Ayotte — the pick of the national Republican establishment — would become the favorite in the general election contest against Democratic Rep. Paul W. Hodes in the race to replace retiring Sen. Judd Gregg.
Politico’s tracking has 85.4% of the precincts counted and a narrower lead for Ayotte, 38.2% to 37.4%, as of 7:35 this morning. The Union Leader shows the vote totals giving Ayotte slightly less than a thousand-vote margin, which in a race where a little over 100,000 votes were probably cast, might not be significant enough for Lamontagne to accept at face value. Assuming the lead doesn’t change again — Lamontangne led for most of the evening — I’d guess that we may not lock in the GOP nominee for another few days.
The rest of the New Hampshire results are more solid. Frank Guinta ended up on top of a crowded field to challenge Carol Shea-Porter for her House seat in NH-01. Guinta edged businessman Rich Ashooh, who made sure to pledge his support to Guinta before the evening was over. Sean Mahoney, the self-funding conservative, dropped to third in the race. In NH-02, former Rep. Charlie Bass won another close race against Jennifer Horn for the GOP nomination. He will face Obama delegate and Democratic Party activist Annie Kuster for Paul Hodes’ vacant seat.
Hopefully, when the counting resumes this morning, we will see a clear-cut winner in the Senate primary as well. However, New Hampshire and other late-primary states might want to rethink their scheduling if this drags out for another week or so. September primaries leave everyone with a short timeframe for actual debate on the issues, and no time for a recount and/or challenge if needed.