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  • photo by Don Himsel

    Bill Keefe, Wilton town moderator, watches James Occhialini vote Tuesday, May 17, 2011. It was election day in District 4, which includes Wilton, Mont Vernon, New Boston and Temple.
  • photo by Don Himsel

    Douglas St. Clair was at Wilton Town Hall to vote Tuesday, May 17, 2011. I
  • photo by Don Himsel

    It was election day in District 4, which includes Wilton, Mont Vernon, New Boston and Temple.
  • photo by Don Himsel

    It was election day in District 4, which includes Wilton, Mont Vernon, New Boston and Temple.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Democrat Daler sweeps 5 towns in special District 4 election

Voters returned former state Rep. Jennifer Daler of Temple to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, choosing the 48-year-old Democrat by 1,401 to 1,007 over Republican Peter Kucmas in a special election for an open seat in Hillsborough County District 4.

In a contest that some regarded as a barometer of the state’s current political climate, Daler won all five towns in the district, topping Kucmas even in his home town of New Boston, which is also a traditional GOP stronghold.

The seat, one of four in the five-town district, came open in January when Rep. Robert Mead, R-Mont Vernon, resigned to take a full-time post as chief of staff to House Speaker Bill O’Brien. In addition to Temple and New Boston, the district includes Wilton, Mont Vernon and Lyndeborough.

Daler, who served the district in the House from 2006-08, said while she didn’t expect to win all five towns Tuesday, her campaign message must have hit home with many voters.

“I was surprised that I won all five, yes,” Daler said Tuesday night. “But I think there are a lot of people who agree with my message of protecting our most vulnerable citizens and the taxpayers at the same time.”

Daler wasn’t re-elected in 2008, and her bid in 2010 also came up short. Kucmas, meanwhile, has never held elected office. He also ran in 2010, but despite his party’s sweeping statewide success, he finished out of the running.

When reached late Tuesday night, Kucmas, who had just arrived in Washington, D.C., was still trying to connect with his campaign staff about the results. He reserved comment at that time.

Along with Tuesday’s intermittent rainfall that greeted voters across the district, a bit of controversy was also in the mix for those in New Boston: Signs informing prospective voters that “per pending legislation,” they should be prepared to present a photo ID to get a ballot.

Town Moderator Lee Nyquist confirmed Tuesday that three such signs had been posted at the elementary school, the town’s polling place.

He said one was posted on the entrance door, one on the door to the gym and one on a bulletin board.

Nyquist said an election official put up the signs following town officials’ decision last week to do a trial run at Tuesday’s polls, in the event pending legislation to require photo ID’s for voters passes this year.

There is currently no state law requiring a photo ID before someone can vote.

Nyquist said poll workers were instructed to ask for an ID, but that if the voter refused or didn’t have one, he or she would still be allowed to vote.

Nyquist said the signs were brought to his attention around 10 a.m., when an unidentified Democrat who was at the polls most of the morning lodged a complaint about them.

Nyquist said he reread the signs and, around 10:40 a.m., decided to take them down.

“I thought, upon reading them again, the language was ambiguous in a way that could be misconstrued,” Nyquist said. “It (the signs) didn’t say what it meant. It sounded more mandatory than what I would have liked,” he added.

Nyquist said that around 11:30 a.m., he instructed the poll workers to stop asking voters for ID’s.

State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley weighed in on Daler’s victory later Tuesday night.

“Jen Daler’s massive victory tonight is a complete and total rejection of the reckless Republican agenda that Bill O’Brien has been forcing upon Granite Staters,” Buckley wrote in a statement.

Buckley said the result sends a “loud and clear message” that “right to work for less, defunding and destroying public education, the irresponsible House Republican budget, and the rest of the Republican job killing agenda …is at odds with New Hampshire values.”

Daler didn’t address the New Boston sign controversy directly, saying only that “like I said, I’m very grateful to the voters of all five towns, and that I’ll be able to serve everyone.

“It’s all about the people,” added Daler, who is married with three school-age children and is employed as a direct care provider for individuals with developmental disabilities. “It’s about what they value.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 31, or