New Hampshire to make history with nominees in House race

AP

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  • FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2018 file photo, Chris Pappas participates in a debate of Democratic hopefuls in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Pappas won the Tuesday, Sept. 11, Democratic primary and will represent his party in the November general election. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool, File)

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    FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2018 file photo, Eddie Edwards, Republican hopeful for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District smiles during a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Edwards won the Republican primary on Tuesday, Sept. 11. He would be state's first black congressman if elected in November. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

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    New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly, middle, greets supporters at her primary night victory party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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    New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly, middle, greets supporters at her primary night victory party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 4

    New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly celebrates victory at her primary night party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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    New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly celebrates victory at her primary night party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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    FILE - This panel of 2018 file photo shows New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial nominee Molly Kelly, left, and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. Kelly won her party's Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary and will challenge Sununu in the November general election. (AP Photos, File)

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    Supporters of New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly cheer as they watch returns on a big screen at her primary night party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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    FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, file photo, Republican hopefuls for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, from left, Eddie Edwards, Michael Callis, Andy Martin, Jeffory Denaro and Andy Sanborn participate in a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Eleven Democrats and six Republicans are competing in the Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary for a chance to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who is not seeking re-election. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, Pool, File)

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    FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, file photo, Democratic hopefuls are introduced during a televised debate for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District at the Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. From left are William Martin, Deaglan McEachren, Mark MacKenzie, Mindi Messmer, Chris Pappas, Naomi Andrews, Lincoln Soldati, Paul Cardinal, Terence O'Rourke, Maura Sullivan and Levi Sanders. Eleven Democrats and six Republicans are competing in the Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary for a chance to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who is not seeking re-election. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool, File)

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    FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2018, file photo, from left, Republicans Bob Burns, Lynne Blankenbeker, Gerard Beloin, Stewart Levenson, Rep. Steve Negron, and Brian Belanger participate in the 2nd Congressional District debate at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H. The winner of the Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary will face Democrat U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster in the November general election. (Thomas Roy/The Union Leader via AP, Pool, File)

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    FILE - In this Sept. 4, 2018, file photo, former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, left, and former state Sen. Molly Kelly participate in a Democratic gubernatorial debate at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H. The two Democrats face off the in Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary for the chance to take on Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in the November general election. (Thomas Roy/The Union Leader via AP, Pool, File)

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    FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2018 file photo, New Hampshire Republicans Stewart Levenson, left, and state Rep. Steve Negron participate in the 2nd Congressional District debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Levenson conceded the race to Negron in the Sept. 11 Republican primary. (Thomas Roy/The Union Leader via AP, Pool, File)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2018 file photo, Chris Pappas participates in a debate of Democratic hopefuls in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Pappas won the Tuesday, Sept. 11, Democratic primary and will represent his party in the November general election. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool, File)

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    FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2018 file photo, Eddie Edwards, Republican hopeful for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District smiles during a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Edwards won the Republican primary on Tuesday, Sept. 11. He would be state's first black congressman if elected in November. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

  • 2

    New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly, middle, greets supporters at her primary night victory party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 3

    New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly, middle, greets supporters at her primary night victory party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 4

    New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly celebrates victory at her primary night party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 5

    New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly celebrates victory at her primary night party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 6

    FILE - This panel of 2018 file photo shows New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial nominee Molly Kelly, left, and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. Kelly won her party's Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary and will challenge Sununu in the November general election. (AP Photos, File)

  • 7

    Supporters of New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Molly Kelly cheer as they watch returns on a big screen at her primary night party, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Keene, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 8

    FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, file photo, Republican hopefuls for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, from left, Eddie Edwards, Michael Callis, Andy Martin, Jeffory Denaro and Andy Sanborn participate in a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Eleven Democrats and six Republicans are competing in the Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary for a chance to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who is not seeking re-election. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, Pool, File)

  • 9

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, file photo, Democratic hopefuls are introduced during a televised debate for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District at the Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. From left are William Martin, Deaglan McEachren, Mark MacKenzie, Mindi Messmer, Chris Pappas, Naomi Andrews, Lincoln Soldati, Paul Cardinal, Terence O'Rourke, Maura Sullivan and Levi Sanders. Eleven Democrats and six Republicans are competing in the Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary for a chance to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who is not seeking re-election. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool, File)

  • 10

    FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2018, file photo, from left, Republicans Bob Burns, Lynne Blankenbeker, Gerard Beloin, Stewart Levenson, Rep. Steve Negron, and Brian Belanger participate in the 2nd Congressional District debate at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H. The winner of the Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary will face Democrat U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster in the November general election. (Thomas Roy/The Union Leader via AP, Pool, File)

  • 11

    FILE - In this Sept. 4, 2018, file photo, former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, left, and former state Sen. Molly Kelly participate in a Democratic gubernatorial debate at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H. The two Democrats face off the in Tuesday, Sept. 11 primary for the chance to take on Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in the November general election. (Thomas Roy/The Union Leader via AP, Pool, File)

  • 12

    FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2018 file photo, New Hampshire Republicans Stewart Levenson, left, and state Rep. Steve Negron participate in the 2nd Congressional District debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Levenson conceded the race to Negron in the Sept. 11 Republican primary. (Thomas Roy/The Union Leader via AP, Pool, File)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) New Hampshire is set to elect either its first black member of Congress or first openly gay representative.

Eddie Edwards, an African-American former police chief backed by the Trump administration, won the Republican nomination Tuesday in the state's toss-up congressional district. He will face Chris Pappas, an establishment-backed Democrat, in November.

In the governor's race, former state Sen. Molly Kelly defeated former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand and will face Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who faced no primary opposition.

Edwards, who was endorsed by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, defeated six Republican opponents in the 1st Congressional District, which covers the eastern half of the state. A Navy veteran who also served as enforcement chief for the state liquor commission, Edwards is the second African-American to be nominated to a U.S. House seat in New Hampshire.

The district, which covers the eastern half of the state, was once reliably Republican but has flipped in each of the past four cycles. In 2016, it returned Democrat Carol Shea-Porter to Congress but backed President Donald Trump.

Shea-Porter's decision to step down after four nonconsecutive terms resulted in a swarm of candidates seeking to replace her, including Levi Sanders, son of Vermont senator and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. He came up far short Tuesday in an 11-way race won by Pappas, a restaurateur who would be New Hampshire's first openly gay member of Congress.

Former Obama administration official Maura Sullivan raised more money than the 10 other candidates combined, but she faced criticism for being both new to the state and voting in general, having just moved to New Hampshire last year and acknowledging she failed to vote in several recent elections.

Pappas is a former state lawmaker who is serving his third term on the governor's Executive Council and runs a family restaurant in Manchester. He had the backing of the state's two Democratic U.S. senators, and said he was proud that most of the money he raised came from within the state.

Pappas told supporters Tuesday evening his campaign will be about decency, unity and progress. He described meeting an LGBTQ student in Manchester who said she was unsure of her place in the community.

"She needs a role model and a champion, too, and I hope this historic victory tonight has some small impact in making her understand this fact: You, too, are welcome here, and regardless of who you are or who you love, the sky's the limit," he said.

Edwards had sought to make the race about character, and said he'd refuse to support his rival, state Sen. Andy Sanborn, as the nominee after he was accused of sexual harassment at the Statehouse.

"People demand change in Washington," Edwards said. "They yearn for honesty, integrity, and leadership. They want to vote for someone who has served our country and understands the honor that comes with that responsibility."

Kelly, the Democratic nominee for governor, said the party's strong turnout should send a message to Sununu that voters want someone who will put the people first, not corporate special interests. A five-term senator from Harrisville, she frequently emphasized her experience as a single mother who raised three children while putting herself through college.

"The people of New Hampshire know that I will fight for them every single day because I understand their struggles," she said in a statement Tuesday night. "Chris Sununu should not underestimate me. I've been underestimated before."

Stewart Levenson, a whistleblower doctor who had flagged abuses at the state's veterans hospital, conceded victory early Wednesday to Republican rival Steven Negron, a state lawmaker, in a hard-fought primary to face Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster in the 2nd Congressional District. Kuster, too, faced no opposition in the primary.

Accustomed to going first in the presidential primary, New Hampshire voters were among the nation's last to nominate candidates for November, providing one of the final measures of the country's mood before the midterm election.

Rhode Island holds its primary on Wednesday, and New York follows a day later.

           

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