Democrat Chuck Grassie secured re-election to the New Hampshire state House in resounding fashion on Tuesday, defeating Republican David Walker 56-44 three-and-a-half months after their initial faceoff in November ended in an exact tie. The victory shrinks the GOP’s margin in the chamber to just 201-198—the narrowest gap between the parties in state history—and puts Democrats one step closer to flipping the House next year, if not sooner. (One safely blue seat is vacant.)
But this election almost didn’t take place at all. New Hampshire has traditionally held special elections to resolve tied legislative contests, and after November’s deadlock, Republicans signaled their intent to follow precedent. But on the day lawmakers convened in December to address the matter, the GOP’s official Twitter account shot off a tweet congratulating “Rep. David Walker,” revealing the party’s plan to use its majority to simply seat Walker as the winner of the race for Strafford County District 8.
The premature celebration and attepted power-grab may have backfired, as a handful of Republicans joined with Democrats to vote down a GOP proposal to dispense with the planned special. That set the stage for Tuesday’s election, which ensured Walker won’t be adding “Rep.” before his name any time soon. The result also represented a considerable overperformance for Democrats: While Joe Biden carried the district (known locally as Rochester Ward 4) by about 5 points, Grassie’s 12-point win means, with rounding, that he ran 7 points ahead of the president—a welcome sign for Democrats, especially since turnout was more than 50% of November’s.
And more special elections are all but guaranteed, since the giant 400-member House always sees turnover between election years. That raises the tantalizing possibility that Democrats could flip two GOP-held seats and take a numerical majority before 2024. That might or might not result in a new vote for speaker (a post currently held by Republicans) since party loyalty in this notoriously swingy state is never absolute. But either way, Tuesday’s outcome shows Democrats are well-positioned to make further gains and take back the House in the near future.
P.S. Daily Kos readers played a huge role in making this happen. You generously gavemore than $26,000 via an astonishing 2,200-plus donations to Grassie’s campaign—a sum that went a huge way in a race where just over a thousand votes were cast. As we’ve long argued, small-dollar grassroots donations can have a huge impact in legislative races, and on Tuesday night, they most certainly did!