Molly Kelly To Face Sununu

  • 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) ap — Elise Amendola

  • 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) Elise Amendola

  • 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) Thomas Roy

Associated Press
Published: 9/12/2018 12:21:13 AM
Modified: 9/12/2018 7:47:51 AM

Concord — A former state senator who jumped into the race for governor of New Hampshire more than a year after her Democratic opponent beat him in Tuesday’s primary and will face Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in November.

Molly Kelly, a former five-term state senator from Harrisville, defeated former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand. Though she didn’t start campaigning until April, she quickly gained the support of key Democrats, including the state’s two U.S. senators.

Both Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan are former state senators and governors, and Kelly would be the third woman elected governor if she beats Sununu, who is seeking a second term.

With 67 percent of districts reporting, Kelly had 66.2 percent of the vote, to 33.8 percent for Marchand.

During the campaign, Kelly often emphasized her upbringing as the second oldest of 11 siblings and her later years as a single mother who raised three children whi le putting herself through college.

“The people of New Hampshire know that I will fight for them every single day because I understand their struggles. The overwhelming Democratic turnout sends a message to Chris Sununu that they want a governor who will put the people first, not corporate special interests,” Kelly said on Tuesday night. “When I’m governor, we will take care of our children and families instead of wealthy corporations. That’s the only way we’re going to create opportunities and build a New Hampshire that works for everyone, not just a few.”

While Marchand made a pitch for bold vision instead of compromise and cast himself as the true progressive in the race, Kelly argued that she had the track record to back up her ideas, citing work in the Senate on support for public education, women’s rights and gun safety.

She accused Sununu of pandering to the Trump administration with his support of a school voucher bill that ultimately failed. And she said he hadn’t done enough to address serious deficiencies at the state’s child protection agency, which has been under intense scrutiny since the deaths of two toddlers under its supervision.

She called for a system of care separate from the Division of Children, Youth and Families to focus on prevention and intervention measures that would help families avoid abuse and neglect.

Sununu, who was unopposed in his primary, said in a statement that he looks forward to promoting his pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda.

“We are getting the job done for New Hampshire — without raising taxes or fees — and Granite Staters are taking notice,” he said.

State Rep. Susan Almy, D-Lebanon, said she was backing Kelly in part because she “could get a fair amount accomplished as governor” based on her legislative experience. Almy said it appears that Kelly’s ability to raise more campaign money than Marchand also helped her.

“I guess it’s true that the television speaks loudest,” she said. “He had a lot less money.”

Kelly defeated Marchand in Lebanon, 873-558, and 893-493 in Hanover, and also won all three wards in Claremont. Marchand pledged his support to Kelly, telling backers, “It is important that we win this general election and what I can do to be helpful, I’m going to do. And I would urge you all to do the same thing as well.”

Valley News staff writer John P. Gregg contributed to this report.

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