Negron edges Levenson in 2nd Congressional District

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup Steve Negron at his campaign headquarters in Nashua Wednesday, just hours after he won a tightly contested Republican primary race for the state's 2nd Congressional district.

NASHUA – Tuesday night became the wee hours of Wednesday morning by the time 2nd Congressional District candidate Steve Negron felt comfortable enough with the vote tally to accept congratulations from his closest Republican primary competitor.

“Dr. Levenson called me, I think around 12:30 a.m., to congratulate me,” Negron, a Nashua resident, said later Wednesday, referring to fellow candidate Dr. Stewart Levenson of Hopkinson.

“He was very gracious … we had a great conversation,” Negron added.

According to results posted by the New Hampshire Secretary of State late Wednesday, Negron finished with 11,195 votes, compared to 10, 952 for Levenson.

Because this is a difference of only 243 votes, a Levenson campaign official announced Wednesday that he is considering a potential recount. Levenson could not be reached late Wednesday for further comment, but he has until 5 p.m. Friday to request the recount.

Coming in third was U.S. Navy Reservist and military nurse Lynne Blankenbeker, of Concord, who finished with 9,858 tallies.

Nevertheless, Negron’s focus now turns to the Nov. 6 general election, in which he will – outside of a recount that overturns the results – face incumbent 2nd District U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H.

Kuster, who was unopposed in the primary, issued a statement Wednesday morning congratulating Negron, then citing what she referred to “my proven track record of working across the aisle … “ on behalf of her New Hampshire constituents.

She is “looking forward to a robust, but civil, debate on the issues” important to the state’s seniors, veterans, students and families,” Kuster added.

Negron, meanwhile, floated between second and third place for much of Tuesday evening, jockeying with Levenson and Blankenbeker atop the seven-candidate card.

It was a late surge, fed chiefly by his 49 percent runaway win in Nashua, that pushed Negron into first place for good.

Hudson also went for Negron, albeit by just 55 votes more than Blankenbeker and 63 more than Robert Burns.

Negron fared quite well across Greater Nashua, winning by 110 votes in Amherst and by modest margins in Hollis, Greenville, Milford and Wilton.

Among his few third-place finishes was in Brookline, where Blankenbeker and Levenson finished first and second, and in Concord, where Blankenbeker, the hometown candidate, topped him and Levenson by a nearly 2-1 margin.

“It was a great day for the Negron campaign,” the 30-year Nashua resident said, quickly adding that it certainly didn’t come easy.

“We were waiting longer than we expected for (results from) a few places to come in,” he said. Among them were Salem, from where campaign adviser Fred Doucette hails, as well as out west in Keene.

Negron, who ran for and won a Ward 5 state House seat in 2016, said he and his campaign staff “knew name recognition was an issue” in the towns and cities outside Nashua.

“We had it in Nashua,” he said of name recognition. “We knew going in that if we can maintain a stronghold here, we should be OK.”

Negron said he and his staff put a great deal of emphasis on the power of meeting voters face-to-face. “We knocked on tons of doors in every ward,” he said.

While speaking with Levenson early Wednesday morning, Negron said he made sure Levenson knew that he wants his help.

“I said, ‘I need you … I cannot do this alone,'” Negron said. “We have an incumbent with deep pockets … a formidable foe in November,” he said, referring to Kuster.

After heading down to Boston with plans to watch Wednesday’s Red Sox game with a group of family members and friends, Negron said it will be time to get to work.

“Starting Thursday, it’s boots on the ground.”