Democrat Chris Pappas Heads To Congress After Bitter CD1 Race

Nov 7, 2018

Democrat Chris Pappas beat Republican Eddie Edwards Tuesday in the race for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District. The candidates were vying for the seat vacated by Democrat Carol Shea Porter.

Pappas' victory came after a hard-fought battle that began with two bitter primary campaigns and a general election that kept voters on edge until late on election night.

The chicken tenders had long been devoured, and many a mudslide slurped down before Pappas finally took the podium at his family’s restaurant, The Puritan Backroom in Manchester.

He and Edwards were within a few points of each other for most of the night, but by 11:00 p.m. it was clear, Pappas would help Democrats take control of Congress.

"Today voters confirmed that the people of this district, of this state and of this country are so much more kind, more decent and more tolerant than our political system would let you believe," Pappas told supporters.

Pappas won big in Democratic strongholds like Portsmouth, but he also did well in conservative parts of the district. He won in Bedford, for example, and held his own in Derry and Londonderry. (Click here to see election results.)

Republican CD1 candidate Eddie Edwards and Democrat Chris Pappas at an NHPR candidate forum in October
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

While his victory speech struck an inclusive tone, for many 1st District residents, a vote for Pappas was a vote against President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, his opponent Eddie Edwards spent his final days courting Trump fans and campaigning with the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

But at his election night party, Edwards expressed no regrets.

"Chris won tonight, but we didn’t lose. We didn’t lose," Edwards told his supporters. "This is really about sending a message of what conservatism is all about. I’m very proud that we can deliver a message where we talk about human decency, unity, bringing our country together..."

For now, the district that was once known as the 'swingiest swing district' will remain blue two terms in a row.

But Pappas is a different kind of politician than retiring Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter. She got into politics as an outside, and her first victory was a total upset.

Pappas had establishment Democrats like Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan in his corner since the primary. But New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley says CD1 voters could see how genuine Pappas is.

"I think Chris earned this victory, he earned it the old fashioned way by working for it, nothing was handed to him in the primary, nothing was handed to him in the general election," Buckley said.

Chris Pappas hugs a supporter on election night
Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

And for many in the audience last night, Pappas’ win was expected because he’s been working it for for most of his life.

Bob Mongan has known Pappas since he was born, and says he always knew Pappas had potential.

"He was very young in the state legislature and a good friend of mine told me twelve years ago, 'He’ll be a governor some day,' Mongan said. "Well, he’s not a governor, he’s a congressman."

Mongan says Pappas will bring something new to Washington - a pleasant tone but a willingness to fight when it matters.