EXETER – Former Republican state Sen. William Gannon will have the opportunity to run for his old seat after he pulled off a convincing win in the state Republican primary election Tuesday.
Gannon defeated former Brentwood State Rep. Allen Cook 3,897-1,473, without the results from Gannon’s hometown of Sandown available, in the nine-town District 23 primary election, setting up a rematch with Sen. Jon Morgan-D Brentwood, in November. Gannon’s campaign claimed victory prior to 10 p.m. and after receiving a call from Cook conceding the election.
Morgan narrowly defeated Gannon in the 2018 midterm election 12,911-12,890 in the traditionally Republican-leaning district representing the communities of Brentwood, Chester, Danville, East Kingston, Epping, Exeter, Fremont, Kingston and Sandown.
Gannon said based on the number of additional Republican ballots poll workers in Sandown needed to copy to give to voters after running out, he believes he will have the necessary turnout in November to win his old Senate seat back from Morgan. In a statement Gannon thanked his supporters across the district for delivering him an “overwhelming victory” and thanked Cook for his contributions to the campaign discussion.
“Last time our party was apathetic, and our voters were not galvanized,” Gannon said. “The Democrats want to be Santa Clause for everyone, promising free college and free family-medical leave, somebody has to be the adult in the room because we all have to live with a limited budget. I want the people of this district to know what Taxin’ Jon Morgan has done.”
Cook did not respond to a request for comment.
Among voters on Tuesday a majority who spoke to Seacoastonline said they opted for Gannon because of his previous experience in the state Senate and his name recognition.
“I like the way Gannon thinks,” said Warren Graham, of Brentwood. “He has the experience of having worked with the Governor in that seat before.”
Supporters of Cook said they wanted a fresh face to square off against Morgan in the general election.
“I wanted someone who supports our country and supports our president,” said Teri Bilodeau, of Epping said. “Allen has a better voting record with the (National Rifle Association).”
Now the attention shifts to the general election in November and election officials believe the extra precautions they put into place to protect voters and poll volunteers will pay off come election day.
In Exeter, Town Moderator Paul Scafidi said as of mid-afternoon of the nearly 3,100 ballots cast, 1,924 were absentee following a big push by the town to promote absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said based on his conversations with the secretary of state’s office, they expect roughly a third of voters to vote absentee in the general election, which would be roughly 4,500 of Exeter’s approximately 13,700 registered voters.
“I’m glad we put in all this work because it was a good test run for November for us,” Scafidi said.