The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee today named two New Hampshire House races as key battlegrounds in the fight to make substantial gains in state legislatures around the country.
In selecting Jennifer Daler, who is running for re-election in Hillsborough District 25, the DLCC noted her previous “crushing special election” win in Bill O’Brien’s home district. “If Rep. Daler can hold on here,” they wrote, “it’s a very bad sign for Republicans statewide.”
Aaron Gill, who is running to unseat Free Stater incumbent Mark Warden in Hillsborough District 39, was one of ten races selected through a process of grassroots nominations. The race matters, wrote the DLCC, because the outcome could indicate whether the state’s Republican-leaning districts are in play this cycle and if the Free State Project has staying power.
Sixty contests in 23 states were named Essential Races by the DLCC. “Across the country, Democrats are poised to make substantial gains in state legislatures,” said DLCC Executive Director Michael Sargeant. “These are strong candidates running in competitive districts, and they will decide the balance of power for legislative control in key states.”
New Hampshire House District 25 (Hillsborough)
Status: Democratic Incumbent
Why this Race Matters: The New Hampshire House is one of a handful of chambers where redistricting thoroughly scrambled the statewide outlook: though the number of seats remains the same at 400, the number of districts expanded from 103 last cycle to 204 today, and Democratic Rep. Jennifer Daler’s 25th Hillsborough district is by some estimation the fourth-most Republican in the state. Put simply, if Rep. Daler can hold on here, it’s a very bad sign for Republicans statewide. It would also be the second time this cycle that Rep. Daler’s race has been looked to as a bellwether: she previously won a crushing special election in the home district of GOP Speaker Bill O’Brien.
New Hampshire House District 39 (Hillsborough)
Aaron Gill (Grassroots pick)
Status: Republican Incumbent
Why this Race Matters: Unlike the New Hampshire House’s many multi-member House races, Hillsborough District 39 is a one-on-one matchup featuring Democratic community banker and Deering Conservation Commission officer Aaron Gill, who faces an incumbent Republican who moved to the state as part of the so-called Free State Project, which encourages Libertarians to move to New Hampshire in order to remake that state’s government in the image of Libertarian Party ideology. (The project targets New Hampshire, specifically, because of its relatively small electorate.) The outcome of this race could show whether conservative-leaning districts like this one are “in play” for New Hampshire Democrats, as well as whether the Free State Project’s unique brand of conservatism has staying power among normal New Hampshire voters.