To my knowledge no one has called the race yet, but businessman and Tea Party favorite Ovide Lamontagne has been leading former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte all night in the New Hampshire GOP Senate primary. All of the contestants in that race are solid conservatives, and the conventional wisdom is that Ayotte would be a virtual lock to keep the seat in Republican hands–Judd Gregg currently occupies it–but with 34 percent of precincts reporting, Lamontagne leads Ayotte 40-38 percent. It could be a long night. At this point, I don’t have any insight into whether a Lamontagne victory is likely to deliver the seat into Democratic hands. It is worth noting that Sarah Palin endorsed Ayotte, so on paper at least, the Tea Party vote should have been split.
PAUL adds: The conventional wisdom, reflected by polls, is that Ayotte is a solid favorite to win in November, while Lamontagne is a slight underdog. Unlike O’Donnell, Lamontagne is a “viable” candidate. But the ideological gain from nominating him is considerably less than the ideological gain from nominating O’Donnell in Delaware.
SCOTT adds: As of 2:00 a.m. this morning, Kelly Ayotte had moved into a narrow lead over Lamontagne with the outcome still too close to call..
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