New Hampshire Republican Senate primary remains too close to call

New Hampshire's Republican Senate primary was too close to call early Wednesday morning.

With 85 percent of precincts reporting, party-backed candidate Kelly Ayotte held less than a one-point lead over Ovid Lamontagne, 38.2 percent to 37.4. According to The Associated Press, fewer than 1,000 votes separated the two with 257 of 301 precincts reporting.

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The Concord Monitor reported that new reporting requirements from the secretary of state's office caused delays in reporting returns.

The race was the final chance for the Tea Party to pick up a victory in a Republican Senate primary this cycle.

Lamontagne made a big push in the final weeks to tout his ties to the Tea Party movement, even though it gave him no financial support — a decision the group may come to regret, given the closeness of the race.

Polls leading into Tuesday's primary showed Ayotte with a strong lead.

Losers in New Hampshire primary elections can ask for a recount if the losing margin is within 1.5 percent of the total votes cast in a race, according to the AP. The deadline for the recount request is by 5 p.m. the day after the primary.

Heading into the vote, Lamontagne picked up some key last-minute support from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who tweeted his endorsement of the candidate late last week.

He also talked up his support from conservative talk-radio host Laura Ingraham, whom he called "a strong supporter of our campaign."



And the candidate highlighted support from RedState blogger Erick Erickson, who questioned on his blog Wednesday why money and energy was focused on Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and not Lamontagne in New Hampshire.


Up until about two weeks ago, the primary was largely fought between Ayotte and businessman Bill Binnie. The two spent heavily on ads attacking one another.


Ayotte was backed by the state's Republican establishment, led by retiring Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, who lent Ayotte his grassroots network of support.



The national party was also backing Ayotte, who won an early endorsement and a late robo-call from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The winner will face Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) in November.

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