CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen along with Democratic Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas were reelected Tuesday, ensuring that Democrats maintain their dominance of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump in New Hampshire. Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Further down the ballot, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu defeated Democrat Dan Feltes to win a third term.
As it did for the September primary, the coronavirus pandemic significantly changed both the process of campaigning and voting. Safety precautions were in place at the polls, and anyone with concerns about the virus was allowed to vote by absentee ballot.
Secretary of State Bill Gardner on Monday said he expected more than 800,000 ballots to be cast, surpassing the record of 755,850 set in 2016. As of Tuesday morning, more than 235,000 absentee ballots had been returned to city and town clerks. The state’s Joint Information Center said there were long lines at some polling stations across New Hampshire but no signs of problems.
“It was a campaign like no other, but it worked,” Shaheen told cheering supporters at an outdoor gathering in Manchester, where her husband, children and grandchildren stood behind her wearing masks to protect against the virus and mittens to ward off the cold. It was about 30 degrees.
Shaheen, a former governor, defeated Republican Corky Messner, a newcomer to both politics and the state. An attorney from Colorado who turned his New Hampshire vacation home into his permanent residence about two years ago, he criticized Shaheen as a career politician while casting himself as an independent outsider with experience creating jobs and navigating bureaucracies. Shaheen emphasized her record of helping small businesses during the pandemic, securing funding to fight the opioid crisis and her commitment to the Affordable Care Act.
“I have always fought for New Hampshire and I always will," she said. “And right now, that means overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Our nation is in crisis. We need to work together, we need to rebuild and if we do, we will come through this even stronger than before.”
Shaheen became only the second New Hampshire Democrat to win a third Senate term.
Two of the other three members of the all-Democratic delegation also were up for reelection: 1st District Rep. Chris Pappas and 2nd District's Kuster.
While the state has been represented only by Democrats in Washington for the last four years, Republicans held some of the seats before that, and the 1st District in particular had swung back and forth between the parties.
In the 1st District, Pappas defeated Republican Matt Mowers to win a second term. Pappas, a former state lawmaker whose family runs a popular restaurant in Manchester, spent much of the campaign playing up his bipartisan credentials and his work on behalf of veterans. President Donald Trump endorsed Mowers, who briefly worked in his administration’s State Department.
Speaking to a handful of supporters, Pappas said he would continue working for additional coronavirus relief in Congress and would work to invest in the country’s infrastructure and measures to help people “get back to work.”
“It is an honor of a lifetime to represent my home state in Congress,” Pappas said. “I am so eager to get back to work. We must stop the political attacks on the Affordable Care Act and insure that health care is a right and not a privilege in this country. We must take on the big drug countries who reap record profits at the expense of Granite Staters and we’ve got to negotiate lower drug prices for the people of New Hampshire.”
In a rematch of their 2018 race, Kuster and Republican Steve Negron were facing each other. During the campaign, Kuster emphasized her work in Congress to help pass the $2 trillion CARES Act that provided emergency relief during the pandemic and her advocacy for frontline workers. Negron, who runs a defense engineering and consulting firm in Nashua, is a conservative who supports Trump.
Kuster, speaking to supporters before her race was called, said she would work in her next term to protect Medicare and Social Security, lower the cost of prescription drugs, and combat climate change with investments in clean energy.
“I’m committed to fighting for policies that put hardworking families here in New Hampshire first,” she said.
She also praised the resilience of Granite Staters in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and called for unity as the country looks to “rebuild and strengthen our economy.”
“We will build back better lifting up all Americans and their families to a brighter future,” she added.
Voters also will elect 400 members of the state House and 24 members of the Senate.
At several polling stations in Manchester, voters shrugged off the coronavirus to vote and said the precautions at the polls made them feel comfortable.
Daniel Brisson, 77, wearing a mask outside a polling station after for Trump, said he had no concerns about voting in person and that he had trust in the election results.
“Whomever wins the vote, that is it. He is the president whether you like it or not,” he said. “He is our president and you have got to live with it.”
Mukhtar Idhow, a 35-year-old immigrant in Manchester, said coming out to vote was a chance to exercise a right he never had in his native Somalia. Idhow, who said he voted for Biden, wasn’t concerned about the election being undermined by one candidate or the other.
“It is not up to Trump or Biden. It is up to the American people,” he said. “We have rules and laws in the country. No matter what they say, the American people will recognize who the right winner is,” he said.
Casey reported from Manchester. Associated Press writer Kathy McCormack contributed to this report.
Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.