400-member New Hampshire House splits almost evenly

400 Member New Hampshire House Splits Almost Evenly
Holly Ramer - staff, AP

FILE - Members of the New Hampshire House recite the Pledge of Allegiance on March 10, 2022, in Concord, N.H. Unofficial results from the House clerk show an almost even partisan divide in the 400-member House after elections on Tuesday, Nov. 8, with 203 Republican winners and 197 Democrats. The Associated Press has not called many of the races, and recounts are likely.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The stage is set for either unprecedented bipartisanship or major gridlock in New Hampshire, where unofficial election results show an almost even divide in the 400-member House.

Republicans appear to have retained control of the chamber, but will have the slimmest majority of either party in at least three decades, according to unofficial results from the House clerk.

If those results hold, the House would be made up of 203 Republicans and 197 Democrats. The Associated Press has not called many of the races, and recounts are likely.

While the 24-member state Senate has generally been more stable, control of the House has flipped in six of the last nine elections, most recently in 2020 when Republicans gained a 26-vote majority. The GOP’s largest advantage was during the 2011-12 session, when they held nearly three-quarters of the seats.

House Majority Leader Jason Osborne said Republicans look forward to delivering on their promises to lower energy prices and taxes while promoting personal freedom.

“We have shown that we can be effective with a small majority, and we will do it again,” he said, while also expressing hope that Republicans “can develop a better working relationship” with Democrats.

Rep. David Cote, the House Democratic leader, said his caucus will focus on addressing voter concerns about abortion rights, energy costs, increased property taxes and public education.

“Our strong gains highlight the connections that Democratic House candidates built with their neighbors out on the campaign trail this fall,” he said.

Tuesday’s results also reflected the state’s tradition of split-ticket voting, as voters once again picked one party for Congress and the other for the governor’s office. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu was reelected, as were three Democratic members of Congress: U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and U.S. Reps. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster.

While the state’s last five Democratic governors faced GOP Legislatures for at least part of their tenures, Sununu was the first Republican governor in modern New Hampshire history to face the opposite scenario when Democrats won control in 2018.

That session, Sununu set a record for vetoing legislation, including the state budget. And though his party won back control in 2020, it was hardly united, thanks to the growing influence of libertarian-leaning members.

That tension came to a head in August when Sununu inserted himself into a management controversy at the Gunstock ski area and called for the ouster of three fellow Republicans from the Legislature who oversee the resort and had been siding with anti-government activists who want to privatize the ski area.

All three lost their primaries in September, and a political action group that sprang up in response to the controversy said Wednesday that more moderate lawmakers now make a majority of the Belknap County delegation.

“Between the primary and the general elections, voters sent a clear message that they favor reasonable and responsible candidates over those who bring us chaos and collateral damage,” said Alan Posnack, chairman of the Citizens for Belknap group.