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Democrat Maggie Hassan wins N.H. governor’s race

CONCORD, N.H. — Former state Senate majority leader Maggie Hassan will keep New Hampshire’s governor’s seat in Democratic control after she beat Republican Ovide Lamontagne, an opponent she said was too extreme for the state.

With Tuesday’s win, Hassan is in line to succeed John Lynch, the governor since 2005 who served four two-year terms and is retiring.

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Hassan’s campaign stressed the need to repair damage done by the Republican Legislature in its last budget, particularly by restoring deep cuts to public colleges and the state’s hospitals. She said the way to grow the economy is to invest in education so business has the workforce it needs.

Lamontagne had claimed Hassan was a tax-and-spend liberal who would grow government.

Both Hassan, 54, of Exeter, and Lamontagne, 55, of Manchester, are business attorneys and campaigned on the need to grow the economy and jobs.

Hassan argued education was the key and said she would reverse the $50 million in annual cuts the Legislature made to the University System of New Hampshire in the last budget. She would help pay for the aid by raising the cigarette tax and hiring auditors to ensure businesses pay their taxes.

She also would double the state’s business research and development tax credit.

Lamontagne proposed cutting the state’s tax on business profits from 8.5 percent to 8 percent over two years by finding spending to cut to offset the loss of an estimated $27 million in revenue. He also proposed new tax credits to help business and promised to ease regulations.

Lamontagne praised his conservatism and embraced support from New Hampshire’s loosely organized Tea Party as matching his views of limited government and low taxes.

He took New Hampshire’s traditional pledge to veto a personal income or general sales tax. The state has neither.

Lamontagne argued Hassan would support an income or sales tax — despite her pledge to also veto them. He promised not to raise taxes a single dime.

Hassan criticized Lamontagne for promising to spend more money on services for the disabled and hospital aid without saying where he would make cuts to pay for the spending. Lamontagne, a Catholic, strongly opposes abortion and gay marriage, though he did not emphasize his support for imposing limits on abortion or repealing New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law in his campaign.

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