EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 7, 2012

Sheriff, county attorney likely winners

Results still unofficial

By Doug Ireland direland@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BRENTWOOD — The state Secretary of State’s Office is still confirming the returns, but Rockingham County Attorney James Reams and Sheriff Michael Downing have apparently won re-election.

Both incumbents said they were waiting to hear the official results yesterday, but all indications were they would return to office. The terms are for two years.

“I am humbled that the citizens of Rockingham County continue to trust my vision and leadership of the county attorney’s office,” Reams said. “I look forward to the challenges ahead.”

Reams, a Republican from Hampton, said unofficial vote tallies from the 37 Rockingham County towns show he won by more than 18,000 votes over Democratic challenger Joseph Plaia of Portsmouth. Max Abramson of Seabrook ran as a Libertarian Party candidate.

Reams did well in many southern Rockingham County communities. He finished with 6,547 votes in Salem — one of the county’s biggest towns — compared to 4,443 for Plaia. Abramson received 924 votes.

Reams received 1,914 votes in Plaistow compared to 1,157 for Plaia and 318 for Abramson. Reams received nearly twice as many votes as Plaia in the small town of Sandown, receiving 1,714 to 944 for Plaia and 161 for Abramson.

Reams, first elected to the position in 1998, and Plaia both ran uncontested in the primary Sept. 11.

Reams, 65, is a Navy veteran who started in the county attorney’s office as an intern in 1976. He later served as assistant county attorney and began a private law practice in 1978. He was in private practice in the Hampton and Exeter areas for 20 years.

Plaia, 39, is a Portsmouth resident and attorney who served as a state police prosecutor. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Abramson, a former Seabrook Planning Board and Budget Committee member, was convicted of reckless conduct in March for firing a gun at his home during a party in December. He received a suspended one-year sentence.

Downing, out taking down election signs yesterday, wasn’t ready to officially announce he had won.

“I’m still waiting to hear the official results,” he said.

But Downing, a Republican, said unofficial tallies showed he had a lead of about 11,000 to 12,000 over Democratic challenger John Clark. Reams said he also heard that Downing, a Salem resident, won by at least 10,000 votes.

Downing received 8,324 votes in his hometown, compared to 4,440 for Clark.

“It was a hard-fought election,” Downing said. “Everybody worked hard. I believe we are doing a good job in the Sheriff’s Department and I think the vote of the people reflected that.”

Downing, a former state representative and senator, was first elected sheriff in 2010, beating Clark and four other candidates in the Republican primary that September. He ran unopposed in the primary two months ago.

He is an Army veteran who worked for the New Hampshire State Police for nearly 20 years before moving on to the Salem Police Department, from which he retired because of a disability.

Clark, who ran as a Democrat this year, is a former police officer from Rye who also served as the clerk for Hampton District Court. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said yesterday the results for these two races were still being tallied — along with those for many others across the state. They were expected to be available by today.