Despite projections of a close race, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan easily held off a reelection challenge from retired private sector chief executive Walt Havenstein on Tuesday, ending a race filled with negative charges and counter charges about each other’s management style.
With 44 percent of the state’s voting precinct reporting, Hassan had 52 percent of the vote, as compared to 48 for Havenstein.
The Associated Press called the race for the incumbent less than an hour after the polls closed.
Hassan, addressing excited supporters at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester thanked Granite Staters “for putting your trust in me.”
“I am proud of the work all of us, Republicans, Democrats and independents have done over the past two years,” and she promised to continue to earn the trust of New Hampshire residents.
Hassan also thanked Havenstein for a “vibrant debate.”
“The people of New Hampshire engage with you and tell you their priorities,” Hassan said, encouraging continued bipartisanship.
Havenstein, addressing supporters at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, said, “This is a great country. As a first time and unknown candidate, we have achieved remarkable things.”
He wished Hassan well in tackling the challenges facing the state, and said, “I hope on someday the New Hampshire I knew in 1999 will return and with it the opportunities it brought me.”
Looking ahead he said that he and his wife, Judy, “will see how we might continue to contribute to our state.”
Havenstein, a 65-year-old former CEO of BAE Systems and SAIC, had been a long-time donor for the New Hampshire GOP, but was recruited to run by top party activists who believe that someone with a business background had a chance at defeating the freshman Democratic governor. This was his first run for public office.
Havenstein, of Alton, has rolled out a plan to cut the Business Profits Tax, while saying he would support right-to-work legislation. He promised to create 25,000 good paying jobs in the state by August 2017.
Hassan, a 56-year-old attorney and former state senator, was elected governor easily in 2012 over former Manchester attorney Ovide Lamontagne. She has stressed what she has called a bipartisan approach to governing, based largely on the deal she struck to bring Medicare expansion to the state under the Affordable Care Act and a state budget that passed the Senate by a vote of 24-0.
Havenstein said that Hassan’s spending would lead the state toward an income tax, despire her repeated promises to veto such a tax. Hassan said Havenstein would return the state to what she described as the dark days of 2011-2012, when the GOP-controlled Legislature was headed by then-speaker Bill O’Brien.