Persistent GOP candidate wins NH House seat on 4th try

  • Margaret Drye (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/10/2022 12:15:05 AM
Modified: 11/10/2022 12:14:39 AM

PLAINFIELD — For Republican Margaret Drye, of Plainfield, who will serve next term in the New Hampshire House as the Sullivan District 7 representative, the fourth time “was the charm,” to borrow from an old adage.

On Tuesday, Drye defeated Democrat Jason Bourne, of Cornish, 3,603-3,438, in the race to represent the five towns in the newly drawn Sullivan 7 House District.

Since 2017, Drye, 64, who serves on the rescue squad in Plainfield, has run three times as a Republican candidate for a House seat.

In 2017 she lost a special election in Sullivan District 1 to Democratic candidate Brian Sullivan, of Grantham, 1,297-671.

In 2018, she lost in the Sullivan District 9 general election to the Democratic incumbent Linda Tanner, 4,938-4,335.

In 2020, running again as the Republican candidate against Tanner for the District 9 seat, Drye fell short by 108 votes, losing 6,022-5,914.

“I came within 1% of winning, and that only whet my appetite to continue,” Drye said on Wednesday.

The Sullivan 7 District, comprising Cornish, Charlestown, Newport, Plainfield and Unity, could be a challenge to represent, due to the stark contrasts in political leaning of the communities, Drye acknowledged.

“It’s not a district that anyone, if asked to pick five towns that would go well together, would have picked these,” Drye said.

To illustrate the contrast, in Plainfield and Cornish, which are considered Democratic strongholds, Bourne led over Drye by 566 votes. In the strongly conservative towns of Charlestown, Newport and Unity, Drye had a positive differential of 731 votes over Bourne.

Floterial districts such as Sullivan 7 are generally more challenging to represent than “one town, one representative ideal,” Drye noted.

A floterial district legislator has to make sure that all their communities are represented, not just one’s town of residence.

Drye said one approach to representing the towns is to find their commonalities. Drye pointed out that many towns provide services through volunteer organizations, such as fire and rescue operations. Drye, with a background in fire and rescue service, said she could identify ways through legislation to benefit all the communities through emergency services support.

Drye also stressed learning the individual needs of each community, including engaging in school board or selectboard meetings to find “the driving issues” that could be addressed at the state level.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Drye said. “But they are individual towns, and I like them as individual towns.”

In addition to working in Concord, Drye said she also looks forward to serving on the Sullivan County delegation. The delegation, composed of the 13 state representatives of Sullivan County, authorizes the county’s budgetary spending, including its annual operating budget.

Drye voiced support of the county’s proposed nursing home renovation project, which aims to upgrade the 156-bed nursing home’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure, bring the living units into compliance with modern federal standards, improve overall operating efficiency and create more spaces for visitations and social gatherings.

On Nov. 15 the current county delegates will hold an emergency meeting to consider additional bonding for the project, whose guaranteed maximum price has increased to more than $75 million, an amount $12 million higher than what the state representatives previously approved.

“I have been watching the nursing home renovation project for many years, mostly because I have a friend whose mother was at the nursing home,” Drye explained. “I’ve watched the process stall several times, which has been frustrating. So the chance to work on that when it has forward momentum is a great relief to me.”

County officials and delegates said they would like to resolve the additional funding before 2023, to avoid turning the issue over to the incoming legislators, which will include Drye.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at 603-727-3216 or at

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