Tagnew hampshire

Stories about New Hampshire

Voters to decide New Hampshire House special election on April 13

A special election is being held on April 13 for the Hillsborough 21 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Wendy Thomas (D), Bill Boyd (R), and Stephen Hollenberg (independent) are running in the special election. The winner will serve until December 2022. The Hillsborough 21 District is a multi-member district made up of eight seats.

The seat became vacant after the death of state House speaker Dick Hinch (R) on Dec. 9 from complications caused by COVID-19. He was sworn in as House speaker on Dec. 2 and previously served as state House minority leader and state House majority leader. He was first elected to the state House in 2008.

New Hampshire has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the New Hampshire House of Representatives by a margin of 212-186, with two vacancies.

As of April 2021, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2020.

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John Formella confirmed as New Hampshire attorney general

John Formella was confirmed as New Hampshire’s next attorney general by the Executive Council of New Hampshire on March 24 by a vote of 4 to 1. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) nominated Formella to the position on March 3. Formella has served as legal counsel in Gov. Sununu’s office since 2017. 

WMUR reported that Sununu congratulated Formella, saying “John’s work ethic is unmatched, and I have no doubt he will make an exceptional Attorney General and advance the best interests of Granite Staters. I look forward to working with him and the Department of Justice in the years ahead.”

Formella succeeds Gordon MacDonald, who left office earlier this year due to his nomination as chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Deputy Attorney General Jane Young assumed the duties of the attorney general’s office when MacDonald stepped down. According to the governor’s office, Formella will take office after “an appropriate transition period.”

Prior to becoming legal counsel to Gov. Sununu, Formella worked for the New England law firm Pierce Atwood LLP. He was first hired as a summer associate in 2011 and was promoted to a full-time attorney in 2012.

The New Hampshire attorney general serves as head of the Department of Justice. The office’s primary responsibilities include acting as attorney for the state in criminal and civil cases in the supreme court, prosecuting crimes, enforcing the state’s criminal laws, and collecting unpaid debts to the state.

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Former N.H. Attorney General Gordon MacDonald sworn in as chief justice of state Supreme Court

Former Attorney General Gordon MacDonald was sworn in to the New Hampshire Supreme Court on March 4. He was nominated by Gov. Chris Sununu (R) on Jan. 7 to succeed Robert Lynn, and the New Hampshire Executive Council voted 4-1 to confirm his nomination on Jan. 22. All four Republican members of the executive council voted to confirm. The only vote against confirmation was from Cinde Warmington (D).

The New Hampshire Executive Council is a five-member state executive board that oversees the state budget and approves gubernatorial appointments. Following the 2020 elections, the executive council switched from Democratic to Republican control. 

Gov. Sununu previously nominated MacDonald to succeed Robert Lynn as chief justice in June 2019, when the executive council was still under Democratic control. However, the council voted 3-2 along party lines to reject MacDonald’s nomination.

Robert Lynn was the chief justice of the Supreme Court from Feb. 6, 2018, until his retirement on Aug. 23, 2019. His seat on the court remained vacant until MacDonald joined the court.

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New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough 21 special election set for Apr. 13, 2021

Election officials have scheduled a special election for the Hillsborough 21 seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives for Apr. 13, 2021. The seat became vacant when state House speaker Dick Hinch died on Dec. 9 from complications caused by COVID-19. The primary is on Feb. 23, but it may serve as the general election if no primary is required. The filing deadline is on Jan. 15.

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Gov. Sununu (R) to nominate Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to New Hampshire Supreme Court

On January 6, 2021, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced that he will renominate Attorney General Gordan MacDonald (R) to the New Hampshire State Supreme Court. 

In New Hampshire, the governor makes nominations to the state supreme court and those nominees are then subject to the approval of the Executive Council. In order for the nominee to become a justice on the court, a majority of the members of the council must vote to approve them. 

Sununu appointed MacDonald to the State Supreme Court in 2019, but the Executive Council rejected MacDonald’s nomination. Councilman Andru Volinksy (D) stated, “Mr. MacDonald has worked for and supported highly partisan politicians with shockingly extreme views.” After MacDonald was rejected, Sununu left the seat vacant throughout 2020. Sununu said, “If someone of Gordon MacDonald’s character and background is going to be dragged through the mud like this, why would I dare do it to anybody else?”

The first time Sununu nominated MacDonald, there were three Democrats and two Republicans on the Executive Council. In November 2020, every seat on the Executive Council was up for election. The balance on the Executive Council is now one Democrat and four Republicans. 

In our Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship study, we analyzed the partisan data on each state supreme court in the country. In our study, we found that two justices on the court have Republican affiliations, one justice on the court has Democratic affiliations, and one justice on the court has an indeterminate party affiliation. If the Executive Council approves MacDonald, a majority of the justices on the court will have Republican party affiliations.

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New Hampshire Executive Council election, 2020

Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship



New Hampshire House Speaker Dick Hinch dies 

Newly-sworn in New Hampshire House Speaker Dick Hinch (R) died on Dec 9, at the age of 71. According to the Boston Globe, Hinch unexpectedly passed away from COVID-19. 

Hinch won re-election to the New Hampshire House of Representatives to represent Hillsborough 21 on Nov. 3. Republicans gained control of the state House, and Hinch was elected speaker on Dec. 2. Rep. Sherman Packard (R) will serve as acting speaker of the house until the full state House votes on a new speaker on Jan. 6.

A special election will fill Hinch’s vacant seat. According to New Hampshire law, a town or city in the district must first make a formal request to the governor and executive council for a special election. The governor and council will approve or deny the request within 21 days and then set the filing deadline and election dates. 

Hillsborough 21 is represented by Republican Representatives Mary Mayville, Lindsay Tausch, Melissa Blasek, Jeanine Notter, Bob Healey, and Maureen Mooney and Democratic Representative Rosemarie Rung. Hinch’s death represents the only current vacancy in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. 

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Legislative control of redistricting changed in New Hampshire, Vermont following Nov. 3 elections

Following the 2020 elections, two states saw changes to the partisan makeup of their state legislatures that could affect redistricting, which is set to begin in 2021 following the publication of the U.S. Census.

Republicans in New Hampshire gained control of the Congressional and state legislative redistricting process after the 2020 elections. Republicans won new majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, forming a Republican state government trifecta with Gov. Chris Sununu (R). New Hampshire’s legislature will draw Congressional and state legislative district lines in 2021, and they are subject to a possible gubernatorial veto.

Vermont’s redistricting process will fall under divided party control in 2021.

Heading into the election, Democrats and third-party representatives who caucus with Democrats held supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature. This coalition lost its supermajority status in the state House. The Democratic-majority legislature will create redistricting plans in 2021, but will not have the two-thirds supermajority votes in each chamber necessary to override a possible veto from Republican Governor Phil Scott.

Thirty-four states task their legislatures with Congressional redistricting (not including states with a single at-large U.S. House district), and 35 with state legislative redistricting.

Republican legislatures will control 20 Congressional redistricting processes and 20 state legislative redistricting processes. Democratic legislatures will control 10 Congressional redistricting processes and 11 state legislative redistricting processes.

Four Congressional redistricting and state legislative redistricting processes, respectively, are under divided party control. These include Minnesota, where Republicans maintained control of the state Senate and Democrats maintained control of the state House. Other states—like Louisiana, Wisconsin, Vermont (state legislative only), and Pennsylvania (Congressional only)—have single-party majorities in the legislature and a governor of another party. Vermont has a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor, while the other three states have a Republican legislature and a Democratic governor.

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Republicans flip legislature and gain trifecta control in New Hampshire

Republicans are projected to flip control of New Hampshire’s state Senate and House to gain trifecta control of the state. A state government trifecta occurs when one political party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house in a state’s government.

Heading into the election, New Hampshire had been under a divided government since 2019, when Democrats flipped the state Senate and House. Before 2019, New Hampshire had been governed by a Republican trifecta since 2017, when Gov. Chris Sununu (R) was elected.

New Hampshire is the second state Republicans flipped from divided power to trifecta control. They gained trifecta control in Montana after Greg Gianforte (R) defeated Mike Cooney (D) in the governor’s race. If Republicans pick up a net of two trifectas, the country would have 23 Republican-held trifectas, 15 Democratic-held trifectas, and 12 divided governments.

Eighty-six state legislative chambers held elections in 2020. Ballotpedia identified seven states as potential trifecta pickups.

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New Hampshire, Rhode Island hold congressional primaries on September 8

On September 8, New Hampshire and Rhode Island held statewide primaries. A total of six congressional seats—two U.S. Senate seats and four U.S. House seats—were on the ballot. All six incumbents filed for re-election and won their respective primaries. The primary winners advanced to the general election on November 3.

New Hampshire

Incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D) won the Democratic primary for her Class II Senate seat, advancing over two challengers with 94% of the vote. Bryant Messner won the Republican primary for the seat. With 98% of precincts reporting, he secured over 50% of the vote to the second-place finisher’s 42%.

In New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, incumbent Chris Pappas advanced unopposed from the Democratic primary. He will face Republican Matt Mowers in the general election after Mowers won the Republican primary with 59% of the vote. In the 2nd District, incumbent Annie Kuster (D) secured 93% of the vote to win the Democratic primary. With 98% of precincts reporting, Steve Negron advanced from the four-candidate Republican primary with 48% of the vote.

Rhode Island

In the race for Rhode Island’s Class II Senate seat, both incumbent Jack Reed (D) and Republican challenger Allen Waters advanced from their respective primaries unopposed.

Incumbent Rep. David Ciciline (D) was unopposed in the Democratic primary for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District seat. No Republican filed in the race, so Ciciline won’t face major-party opposition in the general election. Two independent challengers will be on the ballot. In the 2nd District, incumbent Jim Langevin (D) earned 66% of the vote to advance from the Democratic primary. Republican Robert Lancia won the two-candidate Republican primary with 73% of the vote.

These primaries were the 47th and 48th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The 49th primary will be held on September 15 in Delaware.

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