Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire: Another win for Sarah Palin?
Kelly Ayotte – the candidate backed by Sarah Palin – holds a slight edge over Ovide Lamontagne, the Senate candidate backed by tea party activists in the New Hampshire Republican primary. But race is still too close to call.
Gallery Primary Day 09/14
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Ayotte held a slight lead – close enough for Lamontagne to legally request a recount if the margin held – with 85 percent of precincts reporting. Ayotte had 46,331 votes, or 38 percent, while Lamontagne had 45,352, or 37 percent.
Multimillionaire businessman Bill Binnie, who spent more than $5 million out of his own pocket pushing his jobs agenda, received 16,960 votes, or 14 percent, and conceded along with millionaire businessman Jim Bender, who got 10,507 votes, or 9 percent.
That left the two more conservative candidates to count votes into the next morning. Three others also were in the race but did not challenge for the nomination.
Lamontagne, who painted himself as the only true conservative in the race, held a slight advantage in early returns over Ayotte – former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's pick for the seat. But as the night wore on, Ayotte took a slight lead.
Hodes said Tuesday night the Republican agenda is "extreme, radical and right wing." He said Republicans would take the country backward into the hole from which the nation is struggling to dig out.
"I'm running for the people of New Hampshire. I don't have to run against anyone," Hodes said.
Lamontagne closed fast in the final days of the race despite spending only $400,000. Lamontagne, 52, counted on conservative groups, not money, to win the nomination.
"It's not how much money you have, it's the message," Lamontagne said Tuesday night.
In a fight over who is the most conservative, Ayotte won Palin's endorsement in July over Lamontagne, who courted tea party activists. Palin, the former vice presidential nominee, recorded telephone messages to voters that started Sunday praising Ayotte as "the true conservative" – a mantle Lamontagne had tried to claim as his throughout his campaign.