- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Republican Walt Havenstein is walking away from his first foray into electoral politics with an appreciation for New Hampshire lawmakers’ hard work, a debt of gratitude to his staff and supporters, and a personal understanding of just how nasty politics can be.

“I think we ran a campaign with courtesy, respect and dignity, or we certainly tried to,” Havenstein told The Associated Press on Thursday. “At the end of the day, if the voters in New Hampshire had a different view on how things should be going forward, I’m fine with that. I don’t think I left anything behind in terms of my commitment and energy.”

Havenstein lost Tuesday’s gubernatorial election to incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan, who won 53 percent of the vote. Despite victories by Hassan, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, Republicans won control of the Legislature and took one of the state’s two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Havenstein said Republicans in state races succeeded with a central message of economic growth and fiscal conservatism.

“The state Republicans did very well, and we’re very gratified by that result,” he said. “It’s been a while since we’ve had consistency across the state for the party; that’s very, very helpful for us.”

Havenstein, 65, spent his career in the U.S. Marines and as a defense contracting executive, leading several large companies including BAE Systems in Nashua. Havenstein’s wife, Judy, has been active in Republican politics, but Havenstein had never run for elected office. Without a political record to focus on, Hassan and her team centered their message on Havenstein’s business career, dubbing him a “failed CEO” at every turn and blaming him for job losses and fraud at one of the companies he led .



Havenstein stood by his record throughout the campaign.

“The nature of politics operates in an ethical desert,” he said. “It’s not OK in the rest of the world. That lack of integrity is frustrating. Having said that, we understood that getting into it. We understood that was the nature of how your opponents are going to behave, and you fight through it. It doesn’t make it right in our world.”

Havenstein says he has no regrets about the campaign he ran, from his own positions to his criticism of Hassan. Hassan vowed to veto any sales or income tax, but Havenstein frequently said her spending habits would lead the state there. He also criticized her leadership as toxically partisan. His only wish is that he had entered the race before April so he had more time to introduce himself to voters and learn the political process.

Havenstein says he and Judy will stay active in New Hampshire politics. He wasn’t specific about whether that includes another run for office.

“I’m going to stay engaged. We’ll see where I can make a difference, where Judy and I will make a difference,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

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