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Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Senator, Set To Endorse Mitt Romney For GOP Nomination: Source

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MITT ROMNEY KELLY AYOTTE
AP

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. -- Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is set to win the endorsement of New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte on Sunday.

Ayotte will make her endorsement official in a campaign stop with Romney in Nashua, according to a message sent to supporters late Saturday night.

"I will be working as hard as I can to help him secure the Republican nomination and, most importantly, ensure that Barack Obama is a one-term president," Ayotte wrote in a message distributed after news of the endorsement became public.

The endorsement represents a major pickup for Romney, who's already leading polls in the early primary state.

The 43-year-old Ayotte will become the first member of the New Hampshire congressional delegation to endorse a presidential contender.

"This is Gov. Romney's biggest endorsement in New Hampshire," said Steve Duprey, a New Hampshire member of the Republican National Committee.

Romney already enjoys the support of several prominent New Hampshire political figures, including former Gov. John H. Sununu and former Sen. Judd Gregg.

But New Hampshire Republicans say the backing of Ayotte, who won a landslide election just a year ago, gives Romney tremendous advantages.

"As the most popular Republican in the state, Kelly represents the future of our party," said Michael Dennehy, a local GOP operative who led Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign four years ago. "Very few endorsements matter in this process, but Sen. Ayotte's adds weight in New Hampshire and nationally."

Ayotte said electability was a factor in deciding which presidential hopeful to support.

"It is imperative that Republicans nominate our strongest candidate to face President Obama," she said.

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  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
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Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
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Republican leading
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Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
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