Voters going strong in Souhegan Valley

New Hampshire Democrats say they are energized by the party turnout in the state primary last week.

The Democratic turnout surpassed that of Republicans in every Souhegan Valley town, but, said one leading local Republican, his party is energized, too.

Official tallies of the statewide vote show 126,492 Democratic ballots were cast, and 100,613 Republican ballots. Just under 1,200 people voted in the Libertarian primary.

There were only two local contested primary races in the Milford area – state Rep. Shannon Chandley of Amherst beat Roger Tilton, of Milford, by an overwhelming margin, for the District 9 state Senate seat nomination. Four Amherst state representative candidates are now three and running for three seats in District 22.

In Milford, there were 1,238 Democratic ballots cast, 1,041 Republican, and 24 Libertarian, for a total of 2,303 ballots cast, for a 20.5 percent voter turnout.

Incumbent Executive Councilor David Wheeler (R-Milford) said voters in both parties are going strong.

“It was a great turnout for both parties,” he said in an email. “Voters are energized. The Dems who had contested primaries from the top of their ticket down, turned out just slightly more voters than the Republicans, especially in towns like Milford and Merrimack where the only contest was for our respective Congressional seats.”

In a phone interview, Raymond Buckley, chairman of New Hampshire Democratic Party, said Democratic voters are showing “a real desire and commitment,” and it is the “year of the women” in towns west of Nashua. On Nov. 6, Debora Pignatelli will challenge Wheeler for his District 5 Executive Council seat. Incumbent Gary Daniels will face Chandley for the state Senate seat and Jeanne Dietsch, of Peterborough, won a contested primary for state Senate District 9, meaning she will face Dan Hynes, a conservative Republican from Bedford.

Buckley predicted that Congresswoman Ann Kuster (NH-02) will win an historic fourth term, and Wheeler and some state senators could lose.

Wayne MacDonald, head of the state Republican Party, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Milford Selectman Paul Dargie, who is running for state representative in District 23, analyzed the mid-term primary numbers for Milford.

“Four years ago in the previous mid-term primary there were 2,186 voters as compared to the 2,303 this year,” he wrote on Facebook. “That election is not exactly comparable since it had much more interesting races (Scott Brown and others for Senator, Walt Havenstein and others for Governor) and some high profile special votes (a vote on factfinders report on the teacher’s contract, purchase of 127 Elm St. property next to Keyes field). I consider this turnout to be significantly greater than then, since the races are much tamer and one would normally expect fewer voters.

“There were 11,148 voters on the checklist at the beginning of the day,” he said. There were 112 new voters that registered at the polls, resulting in 11,260 voters being on the checklist at the end of the day. Of the new voters, there were 71 Democrats, 36 Republicans, and 5 Libertarians.

“In 2014 there were about 1,500 Republican voters and about 600 Democratic voters. This flipped in 2018 with 1,041 Republican voters and 1,238 Democratic voters.”

The big New Hampshire races on Nov. 6, will be Democrat Molly Kelly against Gov. Chris Sununu and Republican Steve Negron challenging Kuster.

Further down the ticket, in Milford, four Republican candidates incumbents Carolyn Halstead and Charlie Burns and John Yule and Michael Thornton will face Dargie, Peter Petrigno, John A. Frazier and incumbent Joelle Martin for the four Milford House District 23 seats.

For Amherst’s three District 22 House seats, Republicans Scott Courtemanche and the two incumbents Reed Panasiti and Peter Hansen will face Democrats Megan A. Murray Julie Radhakrishnan and Daniel T. Veilleux.

Milford and Mont Vernon are in floterial District 40, where it will be incumbent Republican state Rep. Keith Ammon, of New Boston, facing a challenge from Kat McGhee, of Hollis.