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In Rochester, N.H., a win by just one vote

A recount on Saturday concluded Republican David Walker prevailed over Democrat Chuck Grassie after they tied for office a second time

State Representative Chuck Grassie (left), a Democrat, and longtime City Council member David Walker, a Republican. (Ryan David Brown/The New York Times, M. Scott Brauer/The New York Times)Ryan David Brown/The New York Times, M. Scott Brauer/The New York Times

ROCHESTER, N.H. — The two candidates who tied last year in their race for a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and who appeared to tie again this year in their showdown for a spot on the City Council are no longer deadlocked.

A recount on Saturday concluded Republican David Walker prevailed over Democrat Chuck Grassie by just one vote.

The initial machine-tallied election night results showed Walker and Grassie received 406 votes apiece. After six hand-counted ballots were added, they each had 409 votes. But the recount found Walker had actually secured 410 votes, just enough to push him to victory.


“Every vote counts,” Grassie said.

The two candidates sat side by side Saturday, smiling and cracking jokes as workers sorted hundreds of paper ballots into stacks. They have known each other for decades and served their city in various roles over the years. Some voters said it’s a shame they had to choose between the two and couldn’t just elect them both.

When the ballot handlers saw early on that they had briefly placed one vote in the wrong stack, Walker turned to Grassie and quipped, “You want to end it now and go to the bingo barn?” Both men laughed.

In the end, Walker and Grassie said they were relieved Rochester didn’t have to resolve their tie “by lot,” as the city charter would have required if the recount hadn’t revealed the winner. The city has used a tie-breaking coin toss in the past. This time, the council decided it would use bingo balls instead, with each candidate being assigned either odd or even numbers.

Walker said the ballot-counting devices are fairly accurate. The results usually shift by one or two votes on a recount. That shift happened to go his way on Saturday.


Walker said his top priorities on the council will include public safety and ensuring the budget is under control.

Grassie, who serves as a state representative after winning a runoff election against Walker in February, said he hopes Walker and the other city councilors keep up to speed and involved in state-level policymaking.

“One of the reasons why I ran is because I felt like there was a disconnect between what we do in Concord and what happens here in Rochester, and to the detriment of Rochester,” Grassie said. “The City Council needs to be more involved with what’s going on in Concord.”

The post-recount tally very nearly resulted in a 410-410 tie. The process on Saturday revealed one ballot with a write-in vote for Grassie that didn’t count because the voter wrote Grassie’s name on a line for the wrong contest.

Rochester’s city clerk, Kelly Walters, said Grassie could have asked her to issue a statement of fact about that write-in vote, then he could have challenged her determination in court.

Grassie said his loss was “unfortunate,” but he won’t challenge the result.

A voice for Christie

Charles F. Bass, a former US representative for New Hampshire’s second congressional district, endorsed Chris Christie for the GOP presidential nomination. Bass is slated to appear with Christie, the former New Jersey governor, at a town hall Monday evening in Nashua.

“As a former federal prosecutor and governor of a blue state, Governor Christie has experience bringing both parties together to serve the common good and he displays the inherent integrity necessary to restore America’s faith in its leaders,” Bass said. “He is candid about both the problems and solutions for our nation — and as we saw with his recent visits to Ukraine and Israel — Chris Christie has the necessary experience and judgment to ensure America’s security in these dangerous times.”


This story first appeared in Globe NH | Morning Report, our free newsletter focused on the news you need to know about New Hampshire, including great coverage from the Boston Globe and links to interesting articles from other places. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.

Steven Porter can be reached at Follow him @reporterporter.