CONCORD — The final tally in the Republican primary election for the Executive Council in District 1 showed that Joe Kenney carried 63 of 98 districts where votes were cast to top Christopher Boothby of Meredith by an even 1,000 votes, 3,622 to 2,622, with Mark Aldrich trailing in third place with 499 votes.
The 6,743 ballots cast represented approximately 6 percent of the registered voters in the district, even fewer than anticipated, even in a special election in the middle of winter when the campaign was interrupted by the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Martin Luther King holidays. By comparison, three-and-a-half times as many voters went to the polls in September 2012 when the late Ray Burton easily defeated Jerry Thibodeau in the Republican primary in District 1, which drew, 23,698 voters to the polls.
Insiders familiar with both campaigns suggested the exceptionally low turnout favored Kenney, who drew much of his support from highly motivated voters on the conservative wing of the GOP, including the Tea Party Republicans and Independents.
The low turnout reflected itself in the 27 towns where the winner was decided by three votes or fewer and the five towns where Kenney and Boothby ran a dead heat. Aldrich carried one town — Benton — and was shut out in 10. Boothby won Dixville 2 to 0 and Hart's Location 3 to 1 while Kenney took Waterville Valley 6 to 4 and Landaff 5 to 4.
Kenney carried 59 towns and all four cities in the district, which includes seven of the ten towns and the city of Laconia in Belknap County. In the county Kenney topped Boothby in Alton 93 to 40, Gilford 141 to 132, New Hampton 34 to 31, Sanbornton 58 to 30, Tilton 38 to 21 and Laconia 265 to 248, while Boothby won Center Harbor 43 to 37 and Meredith 192 to 146.
Elsewhere in the Lakes Region, Kenney ran strong in Moultonborough and Wolfeboro, where his margins over Boothby were 156 to 96 and 207 to 70 respectively. In addition to Laconia, Kenney carried the other three cities in the district — Berlin by 50 to 36, Claremont by 154 to 43 and Lebanon by 58 to 40.
The lone Democrat vying for the seat, Michael Cryans of Hanover, polled 1,767 votes, including 144 in his hometown, almost three times more than the three Republicans put together.