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Sullivan County GOP Vies to Reclaim Majority

Newport — Republicans who in 2012 lost control of the New Hampshire House — as well as their majority in the Sullivan County delegation — look to be mounting a serious challenge for seats this year.

All four seats representing Claremont will be contested, with Republican state Rep. Joe Osgood, who currently represents Ward 2 in Concord via the District 4 seat, challenging Democratic incumbent John Cloutier for District 10, the at-large seat covering the entire city.

Osgood, who owns an automotive repair business, lost a bid for the newly drawn District 5 state Senate seat to David Pierce, D-Etna, in 2012. He then won special election last June for the District 4 seat after Democrat Tom Donovan resigned for health reasons.

Vying for Osgood’s current seat are former Democratic state Rep. Larry Converse and George Caccavaro, a former Claremont mayor and current chairman of the city’s charter commission who retired last year as business manager for the Mascoma Regional School District.

District 3 (Ward 1) incumbent, Democrat Andrew O’Hearne, a Claremont police officer, is being challenged by Neil Ward and in District 5, (Ward 3) incumbent Democrat Ray Gagnon will face Republican Richard Madigan, a current School Board member.

In District 1, with two seats representing Cornish, Grantham, Plainfield and Springfield, incumbent Democrat Andy Schmidt, of Grantham, and Lee Walker Oxenham, of Plainfield, will face Republicans Bill Walker, of Plainfield, and Don Wenz, of Grantham. Incumbent Democrat Ben Lefebvre, of Grantham, is not running.

District 6, representing Newport and Unity, has Republicans Skip Rollins, an incumbent, and Ernie Bridge, of Unity, against former Newport Middle High School Principal Barry Connell and small business owner Dan Lloyd, who lost a bid for the House in 2010.

The other District 6 incumbent, Virginia Irwin, D-Newport, is running for the District 9 floterial seat (Cornish, Croydon, Grantham, Newport, Plainfield, Springfield, Sunapee and Unity) that is now held by Linda Tanner, D-Sunapee, who is running for state Senate.

Irwin will face former state Rep. Tom Howard, a Croydon Republican and a casualty of the Democratic rout in 2012 when the GOP saw its 9-4 advantage in the Statehouse from Sullivan County fall to a 10-3 minority.

Incumbent Democrat Sue Gottling, a Sunapee Selectboard member, will look to keep the seat she won from Republican Spec Bowers two years ago, who is back on the ballot for the District 2 seat representing Croydon and Sunapee.

Republican Tom Laware, another former lawmaker who lost in 2012, will challenge incumbent Democrat Cynthia Sweeney for District 8, representing Charlestown.

Incumbent Republican Steve Smith of Charlestown is running for the District 11 seat that also represents Acworth, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster and Washington. Linda Wooddell, a Charlestown Democrat, is running against Smith for the District 11 seat.

Finally, it appears Jim Grenier, R-Lempster, is running unopposed for District 7, which also includes Acworth, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster and Washington. Irwin said Monday she did not believe that Democrats fielded a candidate for that seat.

Tanner is a candidate for the District 8 state Senate seat to replace Republican Bob Odell, who is not seeking re-election.

Republicans Jerry Little of Weare and J.P. Marzullo of Deering are also running for the Sunapee-area Senate seat.

In county races, a Republican primary will decide who will run in November to replace Mike Prozzo, who is retiring. Sheriff Department members Denis O’Sullivan and John Simonds, a Claremont City Councilor, and Sunapee Police Chief David Cahill are on the GOP ballot. No Democrats filed for the sheriff’s position.

Another longtime county official, Sharron King, Register of Deeds, is not running and there are three Republicans in the Sept. 9 primary: Claremont attorney Jim Feleen and Chaunee L. Baker and Debra Searles, both of Newport. James Reed, a Claremont city councilor, is running on the Democratic ticket.

Incumbent County Commissioners Jeff Barrette, a Claremont Democrat (District 1) and Ben Nelson of Newport, a Republican (District 2), have no opposition. Neither does County Attorney Marc Hathaway and Register of Probate Diane Davis.

David Scanlan with the Secretary of State’s office said filings made late last week by Friday’s deadline and mailed to Concord won’t be received until today or Wednesday and said political parties have an opportunity to fill vacancies on the ballot by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com .