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ICYMI: Buckley bullish on Democrats' chances in upcoming election

In case you missed it, NHDP Chair Ray Buckley sat down with the Keene Sentinel editorial board to talk about the state of the race this year and the momentum that Granite State Democrats are continuing to build going into November’s elections.


Key Excerpts:

  • Democrats are now knocking on voters’ doors again, and this should help them in the 2022 general election, Buckley said. He also takes encouragement from municipal and special elections last year.

  • Democrat Andrew Maneval of Harrisville won a landslide victory over Republican Rita Mattson of Dublin in a special election for Cheshire County House District 9 last October.

  • Democrat Muriel Hall of Bow easily defeated Republican Chris Lins in a special election for a Merrimack County House seat on June 8. The resignation of Democrat Samantha Fox set the stage for that election.

  • In a special election in Hillsborough County in September to replace the late Republican N.H. Rep. David Danielson, Democrat Catherine Rombeau of Bedford narrowly defeated the GOP candidate, former Rep. Linda Rea Camarota.

  • Buckley also said Democrats have been faring well in city races although those are not political positions in New Hampshire. Mayors in 11 of the 13 cities are Democratic; Keene Mayor George Hansel is a Republican.

  • Many school board meetings across the state have been roiled by vehement critics of requirements for masking and remote learning during the pandemic, but Democrats have fared well in school board elections, he said.

  • Buckley also said that, regardless of who is victorious at the ballot box in New Hampshire, Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 418 could inject uncertainty into the process by setting aside ballots from people who come to the polls without proper identification.

  • Under this bill, New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary might not be able to be called for 10 days, Buckley said.

Read more here: Keene Sentinel: Buckley bullish on Democrats' chances in upcoming election

By Rick Greene

N.H. Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley hopes an easing of the COVID-19 pandemic will work to Democrats’ advantage in November’s general election as they seek to take back control of the N.H. Legislature.


In an interview Wednesday with The Sentinel’s editorial board, the longtime party chairman and Keene native said Democrats were put at a disadvantage in the 2020 general election because they largely chose not to campaign door to door in an effort to prevent spreading the virus.


In that election, Republicans narrowly took control of the N.H. House and Senate, even as voters in the state favored Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential race and New Hampshire incumbent Democrats in Congress, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas.


Buckley said there were a number of close legislative races in the state in 2020. He said 400 more votes for Democrats spread across 13 electoral districts would have allowed the party to maintain the majority in the House, while 500 more votes in three districts would have allowed the party to keep control of the Senate.


“The common denominator really is that the [Democratic] candidates need to go door to door and because of COVID, they were not able to,” Buckley said.


On the other hand, he said many Republicans never stopped going door to door to talk to voters.


“Right from the get-go, they weren’t taking COVID very seriously and they were out there canvassing and they were talking to their voters,” he said.


Buckley also said that the GOP might have received a boost from Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who appeared in weekly televised news conferences before the 2020 election and became the face of state government.


Democrats are now knocking on voters’ doors again, and this should help them in the 2022 general election, Buckley said.


He also takes encouragement from municipal and special elections last year.

Democrat Andrew Maneval of Harrisville won a landslide victory over Republican Rita Mattson of Dublin in a special election for Cheshire County House District 9 last October.

The special election was held to fill the seat left vacant when Rep. Douglas Ley, D-Jaffrey, died after a battle with cancer. This is a solidly Democratic district, which covers Harrisville, Dublin, Jaffrey and Roxbury, but Buckley said Maneval’s 1,209 to 655 victory was a positive sign for the party.


Democrat Muriel Hall of Bow easily defeated Republican Chris Lins in a special election for a Merrimack County House seat on June 8. The resignation of Democrat Samantha Fox set the stage for that election.


In a special election in Hillsborough County in September to replace the late Republican N.H. Rep. David Danielson, Democrat Catherine Rombeau of Bedford narrowly defeated the GOP candidate, former Rep. Linda Rea Camarota.


Buckley also said Democrats have been faring well in city races although those are not political positions in New Hampshire. Mayors in 11 of the 13 cities are Democratic; Keene Mayor George Hansel is a Republican.


Many school board meetings across the state have been roiled by vehement critics of requirements for masking and remote learning during the pandemic, but Democrats have fared well in school board elections, he said.


Meanwhile, a new poll by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center of 1,265 registered voters, conducted March 23-24, showed Sununu with a 51 percent to 24 percent lead over his announced Democratic challenger, N.H. Sen. Tom Sherman of Rye.

Buckley even found encouragement in that poll.


Sununu has tremendous name recognition in New Hampshire, and Sherman does not. Buckley said he would have expected Sununu to be favored by more than 51 percent of those polled.


Buckley also said that, regardless of who is victorious at the ballot box in New Hampshire, Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 418 could inject uncertainty into the process by setting aside ballots from people who come to the polls without proper identification.

These ballots would be tallied, but the votes would be subtracted if these people do not follow up within 10 days by sending a letter with a copy of their driver’s license or other documentation.


Under this bill, New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary might not be able to be called for 10 days, Buckley said.


“We’re not going to be able to declare a winner in New Hampshire until after the next state,” he said. “That would be the death knell for the New Hampshire primary.”

Proponents of SB 418 say it is necessary in order to close a loophole that could let the votes of unqualified people count in certified election results.


Of the 814,000 votes cast in the 2020 general election, there are 45 cases in which the state has not been able to verify yet that the voters were qualified, according to the N.H. Secretary of State’s Office.