Returning votes point to Democratic gains at NH House, no major changes to Senate or Executive Council

One of the results of the massive split-ticket vote in this week’s election is a tightly divided state House.

Final numbers for the New Hampshire House will likely depend on half a dozen recounts. But early tallies from the House Clerk’s Office indicate the 400-member chamber could see a partisan split from the narrowest of margins — perhaps as thin as a single-member margin between Democrats and Republicans.

The battle for partisan control has also been competitive in the state Senate, where Republicans appear to be on track to retain their current majority of 14 seats to Democrats’ 10.

But whoever wins the exceptional races, there will be a different mix of senators at Concord next year.

They include former Republican Senator Dan Innis, who will join the chamber, which was elected from a new district. The UNH business professor had represented the Seacoast, but now lives in Bradford. He will replace Harold French, who resigned to run for the Executive Council.

Democratic state Rep. Debra Altschiller of Stratham will take the Senate seat vacated by Senator Rye Tom Sherman, who failed to become governor this week.

Milford Republican Sen. Gary Daniels, now the Senate budget editor, meanwhile lost re-election to former senator, Democrat Shannon Chandley.

Republicans are also poised to retain a majority on the New Hampshire Executive Council.

The council is heavily Gerrymander to favor Republicans and currently has four Republicans and one Democrat. By Wednesday afternoon, all of the five-person council holders were significantly ahead in their races.

Advisors have an important ability to limit the governor’s powers, approving or rejecting his appointments to judges and other key state positions. They also have the final say on many critical state and federal contracts.

Long a sort of political afterthought, in recent years the council has become increasingly politicized and served as a launching pad for New Hampshire politicians, including Congressman Chris Pappas and Gov. Chris Sununu.

Lately, councilors have fought big fights over funding for women’s health care and sex education, as well as judicial appointments.