CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A divided New Hampshire electorate was sending messages to both parties on Tuesday, casting ballots to change the power structure in Washington, prod lawmakers into action or voice concerns about issues important to their home state.
With state races and the balance of power in Washington at stake, New Hampshire could see a record turnout for a midterm election.
Secretary of State Bill Gardner told the Associated Press on Tuesday that raw data from polling places shows that the state could see “the highest number of voters in a midterm election.”
Three Democrats were trying to hold onto their seats in Washington. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat seeking a second term, faced Republican Scott Brown, who moved to New Hampshire last year after losing his U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Shaheen, a former state senator and governor, has been contrasting her decades of public service in the state to Brown’s recent arrival, while he emphasized how often she votes with President Barack Obama. Shaheen said she’d keep working throughout the day to get people to the polls.
“We always knew this was going to be a close race and we’ve spent the last weeks and months pointing out the differences between me and Scott Brown,” she said after voting Tuesday morning. “I’m working for middle class families for small businesses here. We know that when he represented Massachusetts, he was really in the pocket of the corporate special interests, the Wall Street banks, the oil companies, the companies that want to outsource our jobs. I think the voters will look today at who’s going to represent New Hampshire, put New Hampshire first versus someone who’s not been here, who doesn’t know the state.”
In Concord, Julie Votaw voted straight Republican as a protest.
“I want to send a statement to the Obama administration that I’m very upset,” the 50-year-old homemaker and independent voter said. “I think there’s a lot of inactivity. They just don’t seem to react or lead. I just feel like no one is in control. It’s almost like we don’t have a leader.”
Of the contentious Affordable Care Act, Votaw said, “I dislike it greatly. I think it’s way too expensive.”
Dan Revellese, who’s in software sales, split his vote. He cast a ballot for Brown because he wants to see a change in leadership nationally and thinks a less-intrusive federal government would be good for businesses.
“I’m a bit of the spend less, less-government camp,” the 43-year-old from Concord said. “I feel that I contribute a lot to the economy and I work hard to do that.”
Revellese’s vote for Brown was also a reflection of his concerns about foreign policy and public safety.
“I’m worried about our borders and I’m worried about our security,” he said. “I’m very worried about how we approach things on a global level.”
Kitty Hok, an 80-year-old retiree from Concord, said her vote down the Democratic side of the ballot was shaped by concern over women’s issues and the environment. She also didn’t hold back disdain for Brown.
“He’s not only a carpetbagger, I don’t think he’s all that clever,” she said after voting.
In the 1st District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter was facing a challenge from Republican Frank Guinta. Shea-Porter was first elected in 2006, was ousted by Guinta in 2010 and regained the seat in 2012. In the 2nd District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster was seeking a second term against GOP state Rep. Marilinda Garcia.
The governor’s office and the 424-member Legislature also were up for grabs. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, hoping to win a second term, faced a challenge from Republican Walt Havenstein.
Revellese voted for Hassan because he thinks she cares about local issues.
“Two years as governor is too little time to get anything done,” he said. “I’d like to see what she can bring to the table.”
Polls began opening as early at 6 a.m. across the state and, depending on location, will remain open until 7 or 8 p.m.
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