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2012 elections preview: Delaware and New Hampshire voters to choose state executive nominees tomorrow

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September 10, 2012

By Jennifer Springer

DOVER, DE and CONCORD, NH: In the final state executive primaries of 2012, Delaware and New Hampshire voters will head to the polls tomorrow to select candidates for the general election.



In Delaware three state executive offices are up for election in 2012: governor, lieutenant governor, and insurance commissioner. In the race for governor and lieutenant governor, a single candidate from each party will run unopposed, automatically advancing them to the general election where they will face off for the state executive positions. Incumbent Jack Markell (D) will face challenger Jeff Cragg (R) in the gubernatorial election. In the race for lieutenant governor, incumbent Matthew Denn (D) will face Republican challenger Sher Valenzuela in November.

In the race for insurance commissioner, four Democratic candidates, made up of one incumbent and three challengers, are all vying for the nomination. Incumbent Karen Weldin Stewart will face challengers Mitch Crane, Paul Gallagher, and Dennis Spivack in the Democratic primary. On the Republican ticket a single candidate, Benjamin Mobley, will run unopposed, automatically advancing to the general election to face the winner of the Democratic primary. Republican candidate Jim Van Houten announced his candidacy, but withdrew prior to the filing deadline. He failed to appear on any official candidate list. Libertarian Party candidate David R. Eisenhour is also running unopposed for the party nomination.

Democratic candidate Mitch Crane could be the front-runner, if endorsements and media attention are any indication. He received numerous endorsements from such sources as the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA),[1] the Delaware Democratic Party,[1] Barbara Gittings Delaware Stonewall Democrats,[2] the Victory Fund,[3] the Delaware Liberty Fund, Progressive Democrats of Sussex County, Eastern Sussex Democrats, the Progressive Democrats for Delaware , Kent County Democratic Committee, the New Castle County Democratic Party and several state senators and representatives.[1] Crane has also received some attention from the fact that he stands to be the first openly LGBT state executive official in the state if he wins in 2012.[4] He would be only the second openly LGBT state executive in the country, following after Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown.[4] Crane previously worked in the state insurance agency from 2007 to 2011 when current lieutenant governor Matthew Denn ran it.[5]

A debate amongst the Democratic candidates in August led to a heated discussion, ending with candidate Dennis Spivack pounding his fists on the table as he made points about increasing access to health care during the closing remarks, stating "I have been told that I sound angry when I talk. I am angry, but don’t mistake this for anger. It’s the passion that I carry to get this job done right. And I am the only candidate – the only candidate – that has the brains, the heart and the guts to deal with the insurance companies and other health care providers to get it done and get the services you need.”[6] This prompted a response from Crane, who said he "believes 'heart and brains' are plentiful among all the candidates for insurance commissioner. But there are things that set them apart,"[6] citing differences in philosophy and experience.[6] Incumbent Karen Weldin Stewart, who reportedly arrived 15 minutes late to the debate,[6] made the remark that she was proud of her staff and has been working to help prepare for the changes caused by federal health care legislation and ended by stating, “It’s a great job. I love it, and I’ll ask you to revote for me.”[6]

New Hampshire

New Hampshire

New Hampshire voters have a single state executive office, governor, on the ballot in 2012. Voters in the state will narrow down the race of three Democratic candidates and three Republican gubernatorial candidates to each party's nominee. In September 2011, incumbent governor John Lynch announced he would not seek another term in office. He explained although "for me, being governor of the State of New Hampshire is the best job in the world [and] serving in this role is the highest privilege of my life, democracy demands periodic change. To refresh and revive itself, democracy needs new leaders and new ideas."[7]

Six candidates are eager to take Lynch up on his call to "refresh and revive" the state of New Hampshire: three Republicans and three Democrats. Ovide Lamontagne (R) is making his second run for the state's top office; he ran unsuccessfully in 1996 but is now the best known of the candidates and has a slight lead over all of the Democratic candidates in polling. Two former state Senators are running for the Democratic nomination, though neither Maggie Hassan nor Jackie Cilley is well known among New Hampshire voters who have, in the context of this election, been dubbed "an unengaged electorate."[8]

On the Democratic ticket, former state senators Jackie Cilley and Maggie Hassan, along with candidate Bill Kennedy, are running for the nomination. In a poll conducted August 9-12, 2012 by Public Policy Polling for the Democratic primary, Hassan was leading Jackie Cilley 30 percent to 24 percent, with 46 percent of voters either reporting another choice or remained undecided.

In the Republican primary, Ovide Lamontagne, former state representative Kevin Smith, and Robert Tarr are running for the nomination. In the same Public Policy Polling poll from August 9-12, 2012, Ovide Lamontagne was leading with 49% of respondents to the poll, with Kevin Smith coming in second with 21%, and 30% of respondents either undecided or voting for another candidate.

On August 23, 2012, Republican candidate Ovide Lamontagne revealed his campaign had roughly $718,000 remaining from the nearly $1.2 million he had raised.[9] Lamontagne had at that time approximately $600,000 more cash on hand than any other candidate. Democratic candidate Maggie Hassan raised nearly as much as Lamontagne.[9] Of the $930,000 total raised by Hassan's campaign, only $100,000 remained as of August 23.[9] Fellow Democratic candidate Jackie Cilley had $52,000 on hand as of August 23 from the $269,000 total that has been donated to her campaign, and Republican candidate Kevin Smith had $101,000 cash on hand from the $342,000 total his campaign raised.[9]

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