Democrat Muriel Hall wins special election for Bow/Dumbarton House seat
Concord Monitor: Democrat Muriel Hall wins special election for Bow/Dumbarton House seat
By: Michaela Towfighi
In the parking lot of the brick Bow Community Center building, two white tents sat adjacent to each other. A sign at one table under the tent read “Bow Democrats” with posters for Muriel Hall. “Bow and Dunbarton Republicans” was on display at the other, in support of Chris Lins.
Hall and Lins faced off in a special election for state representative in Merrimack County District 23 on June 8. The seat was vacant due to former representative Samantha Fox’s resignation on Jan. 12.
By the time the night was over, Hall, a Democrat, was declared the winner of the special election that saw high interest and strong voter turnout. Hall beat Lins by a total of 1,912 votes to 1,393.
“Thank you to the thousands of people who have stood with me in this fight for public education, workers' rights, and health care,” Hall said Tuesday night. “Throughout this campaign, I have heard from the people in this community what they need in a leader and I am ready to deliver. Tonight is just the beginning and I’m humbled by this opportunity to serve.”
Polls opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m. at the Bow Community Center, as well as the Dunbarton Community Center.
While Hall won the overall election, the two towns that make up the House district split, with Lins winning in Dunbarton, and Hall winning big in Democrat-leaning Bow.
During voting Tuesday, both Hall and Lins stood outside the polling place greeting voters. Both are well known in the community: Hall, taught at Bow Memorial School for 32 years, while Lins is a youth lacrosse coach in Bow, as well as a local businessman.
For Hall, this election was a chance for her to take action on issues she is passionate about. First and foremost is education.
“Public education is at risk,” she said.
She said her first priority in office will be to say no to school vouchers included in the state budget, but with Democrats in the minority in both the House and Senate, her vote may not be enough to stop the Republican-backed plan.
The race took on greater significance since it was a chance for Democrats to reclaim a seat in the House, where they are currently outnumbered 212 to 186.
For Lins, this election was a chance to be a red fish in a blue pond in his district. With Democrats Mary Beth Walz and Gary Woods already serving District 23, Lins said it was necessary to include a moderate conservative voice, like himself, for balance.
“I came out of nowhere. As Ronald Reagan said, I am an ordinary citizen who decided to get involved,” he said.
Lins will tell you he came of age in the Reagan political era. A household name in his family, Lins parents supported Reagan and his own interest in the former president made him as a political hero in Lins’ eyes.
So much so that Lins sported a Reagan campaign pin on election day.
The pin, which read Reagan in white letters against an American flag, was a gift from a voter, who drove to Bow to specially deliver it to Lin on Election Day.
The race drew attention outside of the state, with the national group Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice women in politics, endorsing Hall and the conservative Make Liberty Win, an affiliate group of Young Americans for Liberty, raising money for Lins.
Both candidates were proud of the turnout in Bow, as voters braved the heat to head to the polls with just the single race on the ballot.
“I expected a large turnout,” said Lins. “Our town is divided.”
Bow saw a 39% turnout while Dunbarton has 32% of registered voters cast ballots.
Seeing her former students cast votes was a highlight of Hall’s day.
Two of those students, sisters Catherine and Grace Mauer, arrived at the polls around noon. Although Catherine, age 17, is too young to vote she greeted Hall and supported her sister, as they posed for a photo with Hall outside the building.
Both girls were in class with Hall throughout middle school.
“I wanted to vote for a former teacher and it was fun to have a face to the name,” said Grace, as her sister nodded in support. “And I trust her.”
For other voters, like Gil Rogers, the power of civic engagement is what drove him to the polls.
“I’ve voted in all elections,” said Rogers, who has lived in Bow for 48 years. “That’s my duty.”