Ayotte Concedes New Hampshire Senate Race

Democrat Maggie Hassan beat the incumbent by a fraction of a percent

Gov. Maggie Hassan has declared victory in the New Hampshire Senate race though her opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, is not conceding. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is set to become the next senator from New Hampshire, as Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte conceded the race Wednesday. 

Hassan led Ayotte 48 percent to 47.9 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting, a difference of 716 votes, according to The Associated Press, which has not yet called the race. 

But the New Hampshire secretary of state’s office has called the race for Hassan, showing the governor earned just 1,019 more votes than Ayotte. 

Hassan claimed victory Wednesday morning before the final ballots had been counted, saying that “it is clear” she has won the race. 

“There are only a few small towns left outstanding and I hope these remaining votes are quickly recorded,” Hassan said in a statement. “When they are, we are confident that our margins are large enough that we will maintain a lead.”

Ayotte initially held off on admitting defeat, saying Wednesday morning that she looked forward to the results from the secretary of state. She conceded after those results were announced, saying, “The voters have spoken and now it’s time [for] all of us to come together to get things done for the people of the Greatest State in this Nation and for the Greatest Country on Earth.”

The contest between Ayotte and Hassan, the only Senate matchup of the cycle to feature two women, had been one of the year’s tightest throughout the campaign and remained so on election night.

Ayotte ran a race largely independent of her party, especially presidential candidate Donald Trump, while Hassan supported the top of her party’s ticket. 

[Ground Games Could Make Difference in Tight New Hampshire Race]

Coming into Election Day, the race was rated a Tossup by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.

[Election Results 2016]

In 2014, New Hampshire’s senior senator, Jeanne Shaheen, won her re-election race against former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, 52 percent to 48 percent. 

Hassan has a decade’s worth of experience in public office. The current New Hampshire governor got her start as a state senator in 2005, eventually serving as majority leader in her last term before being pushed out office in the 2010 tea party wave. She made her comeback in 2012 when she successfully captured the governorship. 

Ayotte served as New Hampshire’s attorney general before she ran for Senate, first elected in 2010. Her career before that included stints as deputy attorney general, a gubernatorial aide and a state prosecutor.

As a freshman senator, Ayotte has developed an affinity for national security policy, and has been one of the leading voices against President Barack Obama’s plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. She has also became one of the Senate’s leading advocates for opioid abuse prevention and treatment. 

“It has been a tremendous privilege to serve New Hampshire in the Senate and to make progress on addressing our heroin epidemic, making it easier for our small businesses to create good paying jobs, and supporting those who keep us safe in a dangerous world,” Ayotte said in her concession statement. “This is a critical time for New Hampshire and our country, and now more than ever, we need to work together to address our challenges.”

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