---- — CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Democratic President Barack Obama captured New Hampshire’s four electoral college votes after a feisty fight with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who owns a vacation home in the state.
Former state Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan also will keep New Hampshire governor’s seat in Democratic control after she beat Republican Ovide Lamontagne, an opponent she said was too extreme for the state.
With yesterday’s win, Hassan is in line to succeed John Lynch, the governor since 2005 who served four two-year terms and is retiring.
Hassan’s campaign stressed the need to repair damage done by the Republican Legislature in its last budget, particularly by restoring deep cuts to public colleges and the state’s hospitals. She said the way to grow the economy is to invest in education so business has the workforce it needs.
Hassan painted Lamontagne as too radical for New Hampshire, particularly for women.
Lamontagne, a Catholic, strongly opposes abortion and gay marriage, though he did not emphasize his support for imposing limits on abortion or repealing New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law in his campaign. He supports replacing gay marriage with civil unions for heterosexual and same-sex couples but doesn’t support invalidating existing same-sex marriages. He also supports exempting religious organizations from contraceptive mandates in insurance coverage.
Hassan highlighted her support for the rights of workers to unionize, for women to have access to abortions and birth control and for gays to marry. Hassan was instrumental in the Senate passing the state’s law legalizing same-sex unions in 2009. An effort to repeal it fell short this year.
Exit poll interviews with New Hampshire voters showed Hassan drew support from women, unmarried voters and those whose annual family incomes totaled less than $50,000.
Independents were also a key. According to exit polls, Lamontagne and Hassan each captured more than 90 percent of their respective party bases, but Hassan led among the 4 in 10 who consider themselves independents.
In conceding, Lamontagne said he was disappointed, especially in the negative ads.
“I wish you all well and I wish the people of New Hampshire well in this critical time,” Lamontagne said in his concession speech.
Voters also were deciding close races for two congressional seats and were casting ballots for 400 state House seats and 24 state Senate seats.