Kelly Ayotte Clinches Win in New Hampshire GOP Senate Primary

Sep 15, 2010 1:48pm

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports:  Kelly Ayotte, a darling of the Republican establishment and one of Sarah Palin's "mama grizzlies," narrowly defeated Tea Party-backed Ovide Lamontagne to clinch the New Hampshire GOP senate nomination, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner announced Wednesday afternoon.  Ayotte’s victory is the second big win for Sarah Palin in the last major round of primaries this year. It’s also a major relief for party leaders who have viewed Ayotte as the strongest candidate to face Democrat Paul Hodes in November and keep the seat of outgoing Sen. Judd Gregg in Republican hands. A WMUR-TV Granite State Poll taken in July showed her beating Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes by 8 points, while Tea Party favorite Ovide Lamontagne trailed Hodes by 6 points. With 90 percent of precincts reporting as of 1:40 p.m. ET, Ayotte held a 1184 vote lead with 38.2 percent of the vote to Lamontagne’s 37.2 percent. Lamontagne could still request a recount because the margin between him and Ayotte is within 1.5 percent of the vote. He has until 5 p.m. ET today to make a decision. Businessmen Bill Binnie and Jim Bender, who had each spent millions of dollars in their campaigns, trailed significantly behind in the vote. Ayotte, a former state attorney general, had been the steady frontrunner but faced a late-race surge from Lamontagne. 2010 Election Maps: Follow the House, Senate and Governors’ Races

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