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Good morning, Granite Staters. This is your Monday morning memo on NH politics. Not a member? Sign up for free.

The general election is just 50 days away, but votes are still being counted to determine who all will advance from the primary – yeah, the one that happened six days ago. (Don't worry. I'll explain everything.)

Here's a rundown of today's highlights:

💭 What I asked Karoline Leavitt (and still want to know)

Why votes are still being tallied today and tomorrow

🏆 Where a poll says Dems stand in NH federal races


Karoline Leavitt speaks with WMUR in Hampton on Sept. 13, 2022, shortly after learning she had won the GOP primary for NH01. (Steven Porter | Granite Memo)

The question that ruffled Karoline Leavitt's feathers

Before I tell you about the question that prompted Karoline Leavitt to end our interview, first let me set the scene.

It was nearly midnight on the day of the primary election. Leavitt had just delivered an impassioned victory speech to a packed room of elated supporters in Hampton, recounting how her team raised funds and knocked on 70,000 doors for her campaign.

"Over the last year, we were outspent, but we were not outworked – no way – and tonight our hard work has truly paid off," she said, as cheers filled the room. [...]


Why vote-counting continues

Ballots from last Tuesday's primary election will be processed Monday and Tuesday in Concord for recounts involving 10 contests across the state. The recounts will determine who moves on to the Nov. 8 general election.

One recount is for Belknap County sheriff. The other nine are state rep races. Here's the rundown, according to a schedule from the NH Secretary of State's Office:

Monday, Sept. 19

9 a.m. – Hillsborough 20 (Manchester Ward 9) – Democratic primary for state rep

10:30 a.m. – Hillsborough 21 (Manchester Ward 1) – Democratic primary for state rep

10 a.m. – Rockingham 21 (Newington Portsmouth Ward 1) – Democratic primary for state rep

11:30 a.m. – Grafton 3 (Easton, Lincoln, Livermore, Woodstock) – Republican primary for state rep

1 p.m. – Strafford 10 (Durham) – Democratic primary for state rep

1:30 p.m. – Belknap 2 (Meredith) – Republican primary for state rep

Tuesday, Sept. 20

9 a.m. – Belknap County – Republican primary for sheriff

9 a.m. – Rockingham 35 (Londonderry & Windham) – Republican primary for state rep

11 a.m. – Hillsborough 45 (Brookline, Greenville, Hollis, Mason) – Republican primary for state rep

1 p.m. – Rockingham 17 (Windham) – Republican primary for state rep

For all the details on who's running in each of those races and how close the initial vote tally was, see the Democratic and Republican state primary results online, or read Kevin Landrigan's report for the Union Leader.

For more detail on the Portsmouth and Durham recounts, be sure to read Karen Dandurant's report for the Portsmouth Herald.

Other ballot-counting tedium

A coordinated effort to force hand-counting of ballots slowed primary election results. NH Secretary of State David Scanlan said an organized effort delayed tabulation by hours in some parts of the state. "Groups opposed to voting machines urged people to write in the names of the candidates they support, even when those names were already printed on the ballot. This forced election officials to count those ballots by hand." (Rick Green for Keene Sentinel)

Both towns pass ballot-counting audit. The NH Secretary of State's Office released an audit report Friday with results from an audit of AccuVote electronic counting devices from Tuesday's primary in Hopkinton and Laconia's Ward 1.

  • In Hopkinton – where the moderator said a potential discrepancy might exist after at least three ballots became jammed in a machine – the audit team found a three-vote discrepancy among the Democratic ballots and a one-vote discrepancy among the Republican ballots.
  • No discrepancies were found in Laconia's Ward 1.
  • The audit process, outlined in a 2022 law, will be used in the general election.
  • This process is different from the election monitors who were appointed to keep an eye on the primary election process in Windham, Bedford and Laconia's Ward 6 after ballot-counting problems were identified in recent elections. Those monitors will submit reports to the state within 30 days of the election.

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Poll suggests Dems leading

A new Emerson College poll indicates the incumbent Democrats are leading their Republican challengers for each of the three federal races (credibility interval ±3.4 points):

  • For U.S. Senate, Maggie Hassan led Don Bolduc by 11 points (51% to 40%).
  • For NH01, Chris Pappas led Karoline Leavitt by 5 points (47% to 42%).
  • For NH02, Annie Kuster led Bob Burns by 18 points (54% to 36%).

Word to the wise: Take this poll with a block of salt. It was conducted Sept. 14-15, mere hours after Bolduc, Leavitt and Burns won their respective GOP primaries – and there's still a long way to go before polls close on Nov. 8.

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Tit for tat. For more on the latest #nhsen war of words, be sure to watch Adam Sexton's latest interviews with Don Bolduc and Maggie Hassan for WMUR's CloseUp. They aired on Sunday.

More noteworthy items

Democrats' midterm reality check. "After Democrats' surge in political momentum over the summer, signs indicate the midterm environment is tilting back in the GOP's direction. ... The elevation of weak Senate candidates is the biggest political challenge for Republicans in the home stretch." (Josh Kraushaar for Axios) #nhsen

Swing-state Republicans on defense over Graham’s abortion ban. "Bolduc put distance between himself and Graham’s proposal this week, arguing that the ban 'doesn’t make sense.' 'Women on both sides of the issue will get a better voice at the state level.' " (Julia Manchester for The Hill) #nhsen

New festival celebrates BIPOC businesses, nonprofits, artists across New England. Sunday, Sept. 25, "will mark the debut of New England BIPOC Fest, a New Hampshire event bringing together leading BIPOC chefs, musicians, and nonprofit organizers for a celebration of the region’s communities of color." One of the festival's founders, Portsmouth assistant mayor Joanna “Jo” Kelley. (Joy Ashford for The Boston Globe)

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Looking for more? Find events on the Granite Memo calendar.

Aren't Hassan and Pappas abortion ads full of "lies" too? Don Bolduc and Karoline Leavitt "have repeatedly said they support states making abortion laws for themselves and oppose a national abortion law. And yet Hassan and Pappas are both spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads claiming the opposite." (Michael Graham for NHJournal) #opinion #nhsen #nh01

Mowers tweet targeting GOP election deniers raises eyebrows. "Granite State Republican activists and campaign insiders interpreted Mowers’ message as a public hit on Leavitt, and they weren’t happy ... Mowers said he was reacting to the broader issue of Republicans nationwide embracing Trump’s unfounded stolen-election rhetoric ..." (Michael Graham for NHJournal, Mowers tweet) #nh01

Boston Globe editorial argues no one should be fooled by Bolduc's pivot. "The people who amplified ludicrous claims of election fraud helped create an environment in which the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was possible, and those who continue to undermine confidence in the election afterward risk fomenting future violence. Election denial is a blot on the record of any politician who embraces it — and a red flag about their own personal integrity." (The Boston Globe) #nhsen

NH keeps patients in the dark about doctor malpractice. "Patients and families (in NH) have no reliable way to learn crucial information about a doctor because the state's medical board is one of the least transparent in the nation." Sununu's office said the NH AG will launch a "review of the practices of the New Hampshire Board of Medicine, along with the rules and statutes that govern their activities." This story is a follow-up on a Spotlight team investigation. (The Boston Globe)

Stray headlines:


Happening this week

In addition to the recounts, there are a few noteworthy items this week on the NH politics calendar.

Tuesday, Sept. 20

8-9:30 a.m. – Mike Pompeo at "Politics & Eggs" – The former secretary of state (2018-2021) and CIA director (2017-2018) has acknowledged he's considering a possible 2024 presidential bid. (Event details)

5-6 p.m. – Constitution Day Event at Dartmouth College with Judge Laurence Silberman, a senior circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Silberman's lecture traces the Constitutional origins of the First Amendment, describes historical threats, and explains how and why it is undermined today. (Event details, Livestream)

Wednesday, Sept. 21

10 a.m. – Governor and Executive Council meeting at Jaffrey Airport in Jaffrey. (Agenda)

Thursday, Sept. 22

7 p.m. – Ken Burns and Sarah Botstein join a conversation about their new documentary film, "The U.S. and the Holocaust," at Keene State College. (Event details, Burns Q&A)

Friday, Sept. 23

11 a.m. – Executive Council holding public hearing on the nomination of Ryan C. Guptill of Contoocook to serve as justice for the NH Circuit Court. (Details)

Saturday, Sept. 24

6 p.m. – Pete Buttigieg at NHDP Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner. Shaheen, Hassan, Kuster, Pappas and state leaders will be there. (Event details)


Have feedback? Reach editor Steven Porter via email: steven@granitememo.com.

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