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Vote returns point to Democratic gains in N.H. House, no major changes in Senate or Executive Council

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

One upshot of the heavy split ticket voting in this week’s election is a narrowly divided State House.

Final numbers for the New Hampshire House will likely depend on a half-dozen or so recounts. But early counts from the House Clerk’s office indicate the 400-member chamber could see a partisan split of the narrowest of margins - perhaps as slim as a single member margin between Democrats and Republicans.

The battle for partisan control was also competitive in the state Senate, where Republicans appear to be on track to retain their current majority of 14 seats to Democrats’ 10.

But regardless of who wins any outstanding races, there will be a different mix of senators in Concord next year.

They include former Republican Senator Dan Innis, who will rejoin the chamber, who was elected out of a new district. The UNH business professor had represented the Seacoast, but now lives in Bradford. He'll replace Harold French, who stepped down to run for Executive Council.

Democratic state Rep. Debra Altschiller of Stratham will meanwhile take over the Senate seat left open by Rye Sen. Tom Sherman, who fell short in his bid for governor this week.

Milford Republican Sen. Gary Daniels, now the Senate's top budget writer, meanwhile, lost reelection to former senator, Democrat Shannon Chandley.

Republicans are also poised to hold onto the majority on New Hampshire's Executive Council.

The council is heavily gerrymandered to favor Republicans and currently has four Republicans and one Democrat. As of Wednesday afternoon, all the incumbents on the five-person council were significantly ahead in their races.

Councilors have significant ability to limit the powers of the governor, approving or rejecting his appointments for judges and other key state posts. They also get the final say on many critical state and federal contracts.

Long a kind of political afterthought, in recent years, the council has grown increasingly politicized and has served as a launch pad for New Hampshire politicians, including Congressman Chris Pappas and Gov. Chris Sununu.

Lately, councilors have waged big fights over funding for women's health care and sex education, as well as judicial appointments.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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