by James Pindell
Motivated by aggressive State House Republicans in Concord, Democrats and labor unions out-organized GOP efforts to win a special election for a State House seat in the Peterborough area by 20 percentage points on Tuesday night.
Democrat Peter Leishman defeated Republican David Simpson, 60 percent to 40 percent, in the four town district of Peterborough, New Ipswich, Greenville and Sharon.
The contest was decided in Peterborough, the hometown for both candidates. Leishman, a former state representative, defeated Simpson, a first time candidate, 915 to 358 in Peterborough. Simpson won just one town, the Republican leaning New Ipswich, 369 to 160, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the pummeling in Peterborough.
This marks the first loss for state Republican Chair Wayne MacDonald who took over the party earlier in the month. Republicans won a special election two weeks ago, but it was with a GOP candidate who got the endorsement of labor unions which heavily aided in the victory.
In fact, labor unions are a perfect 4 for 4 this year in special elections.
In an interview, Simpson said he was “comfortable” with the loss given that it was his first campaign. He attributes the reason for his defeat as highly organized labor unions that were motivated by anti-union Right To Work legislation that Republicans have been pushing in the state house.
Democrats said the loss tonight should be interpreted as a rejection to Republican House Speaker Bill O’Brien. Simpson doesn’t agree. When asked if O’Brien played any negative role in his loss he responded, “nope.”
“Bill O’Brien did a hard job in Concord,” Simpson said. “He has had to fix problems the Democratic Party created.”
Democrats add another to their ranks, but Republicans still have a 3 to 1 majority in the House.