Tuesday, voters in Claremont Ward 2 will head to the polls for a special election to fill the state House seat vacated by Rep. Thomas Donovan. The Democratic lawmaker representing Sullivan District 4 resigned in February for health reasons. This is the third special election since the November 2012 election when Democrats retook the House. Democratic candidates won the previous two.
Republican Joe Osgood has served three terms in the New Hampshire House. He gave up his seat in 2012 to run for the District 5 state Senate seat where he lost to Democrat David Pierce (D-Etna).
In his last campaign, Osgood was endorsed by Cornerstone, the conservative advocacy organization leading the fight against marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose.
The group noted Osgood voted with Cornerstone 97% of the time in the House and signed their Families First Pledge, in which he promised to “vote to protect innocent human life from conception to natural death” and defend “traditional marriage.”
As a House member, Osgood supported legislation that would have barred New Hampshire college students from voting in the town they attend college. Osgood mirrored comments by then House Speaker Bill O’Brien, telling The Dartmouth that college “tends to breed liberalism.” College students could have a “drastic” and “detrimental” impact on elections, he said. “I think it’s destroying the country, if I’m telling you the truth.”
In contrast, Democrat Larry Converse says advancing education is his primary reason for seeking office. “My major thing is education, kindergarten through college,” he told the Valley News. One of his priorities is increased funding for the state university system. “The state has never fully funded any of the programs it started for education,” he complained.
Converse criticizes Osgood for his support of the school voucher program that grants tax credits to businesses to help fund students attending private schools, religious schools or home schools. “I am against that and I know my opponent is against public schools,” said Converse.
Converse served in the New Hampshire House from 1983 to 1984. In 1984 he ran for the U.S. Senate against Republican Judd Gregg and was defeated handily. He returned to the state House, where he served two terms from 2004 to 2008.
Registered Democrats have a 873 - 782 edge over registered Republicans in the district. 899 registered voters, representing 35% of the total, are undeclared.
The ward votes solidly Democratic in Presidential elections. Pres. Obama beat Mitt Romney by a 59% - 40% margin. He carried the ward in 2008 by the same margin. Based on voting in 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, Claremont Ward 2 has a Partisan Voting Index of D+7.
Voting takes place Tuesday, June 4, from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Claremont Middle School. Ward 2 residents who are U.S. citizens and will be 18 years of age or older on election day are eligible to vote. Unregistered voters may register on election day at the polling place.