CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Voters in swing-state New Hampshire picked candidates for the first open gubernatorial seat in a decade Tuesday, while a bitter primary in Rhode Island's 1st Congressional District and less contentious contests in Delaware also drew voters to the polls.
In New Hampshire, moderate Democrat Gov. John Lynch's decision to retire after four two-year terms as governor set the stage for a spirited race in a state that has swung sharply to the left and then to the right over the years. Republicans made Manchester business attorney Ovide Lamontagne their nominee instead of consultant Kevin Smith, while Democrats went with former state Sen. Maggie Hassan over former state Sen. Jackie Cilley.
The last time New Hampshire had an open seat in the governor's race was 2002, when Republican Craig Benson defeated Democrat Mark Fernald. Lynch ousted Benson two years later, and was re-elected three more times after that.
Lamontagne, who has made unsuccessful runs for governor, Congress and U.S. Senate, told his supporters that he offers principled, tested leadership at a time when the state's economy has been shaken to its core. He urged voters to reject Hassan's "record of failure" and choose a "future of prosperity, growth and opportunity."
Hassan, meanwhile, said Lamontagne would move the state backward with divisive politics. She said she will promote "the New Hampshire way" rather than what she called Lamontagne's "tea party way," and said to her, the state's "Live Free or Die" motto means protecting gay marriage, the right of workers to organize, and women's reproductive rights.
New Hampshire's two Republican congressmen, Reps. Charles Bass and Frank Guinta, easily defeated primary challengers. While the New Hampshire incumbents faced only token opposition, that wasn't the case in Rhode Island, where the hottest race was a rematch between 1st District Rep. David Cicilline and businessman Anthony Gemma. Cicilline, a former mayor of Providence, came out the winner and will face Republican Brendan Doherty, the former leader of the state police, in November.
In Rhode Island's 2nd District, U.S. Rep. James Langevin easily beat Democratic primary opponent John Matson. Langevin was first elected to the U.S. House in 2000 and is the only quadriplegic serving in Congress. He'll face Republican Michael Riley, who won a four-way primary to secure his party's nomination.
In Delaware, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper easily defeated little-known political newcomer Keith Spanarelli in Tuesday's Democratic primary. Carper, a former two-term governor, state treasurer and congressman, will face Republican Kevin Wade, a northern Delaware businessman, and Independent Alex Pires Jr., a wealthy lawyer and Dewey Beach businessman, in November.
It was also an easy victory for New Castle County Council President Tom Kovach, who defeated homemaker Rose Izzo in the GOP primary to take on U.S. Rep. John Carney Jr. in November.