The Democratic governor of New Hampshire declared victory shortly before noon Wednesday in her challenge to unseat Sen. Kelly Ayotte in the closest Senate race in the 2016 election cycle.
“It will be my job in the U.S. Senate to make the best decisions for New Hampshire to work with President-elect Trump when it is in the best interest of New Hampshire and the country, and to stand up to him when it isn’t,” said Gov. Maggie Hassan, who ran as future partner to her party’s nominee for president Hillary R. Clinton–while Ayotte struggled to describe her own place in relation to Trump, her party’s nominee.
“As you all know, I entered public service as an advocate for people who experience disabilities,” she said. “People whose voices are too often not heard. I believe we are stronger when we listen to all voices and all perspectives. We are stronger when we are working to ensure that every person has the opportunity to share in our nation’s success.”
The governor declared victory before the final ballots were counted and without a concession from the Ayotte campaign, whose spokeswoman offered this statement:“This has been a closely contested race from the beginning, and we look forward to results being announced by the Secretary of State, and ensuring that every vote is counted in this race that has received an historic level of interest.”
The New Hampshire Secretary of State certified 100 percent of the state’s ballots counted, giving Hassan the nod over Ayotte by 1,023 votes.
Clinton beat Trump by 1.437 votes in the battle for the state’s four electoral votes.
In an Oct. 3 debate with Hassan, Ayotte said she thought Trump was a role model for children, but soon walked it back: “”I corrected that because I made a mistake. I mean debates many people are — you’re asked a lot of questions at a debate. But it’s clear to me that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton, unfortunately, are role models.”
In her final construct, the former state attorney general said: “I will stand up to Donald Trump, but I will vote for him.”
The senator never campaigned with Trump.
Ayotte was a distant third in the GOP primary for Senate in 2010, when she was plucked up by Sarah Palin, who called her a “mama-grizzly” and made her the front runner. In those days, Ayotte campaigned as a member of the Tea Party and disciple of Palin. But, over time in Washington, Ayotte drifted away from her mentress, who in 2013 denounced Ayotte for supporting the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill for illegal aliens.
When Capitol Hill conservatives forced the partial shutdown of the federal government in September-October 2013, the senator joined with Democrats to undercut conservatives.
New Hampshire law allows candidates to request a recount if the deciding margin is at least 20 percent of the votes cast.