For the fourth time in as many cycles, New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District flipped from one party to another, as unpopular Republican Rep. Frank Guinta lost to former-turned-current-turned-former-turned-incoming Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.
It was the fourth consecutive time the two had gone up against each other, with Guinta first beating the incumbent Shea-Porter in 2010, then Shea-Porter beating Guinta in 2012, then Guinta beating her in 2014, and now Shea-Porter defeating the former mayor of Manchester.
If that back-and-forth seems tiring, you’re not alone. Nine percent of voters in the district went for Shawn O’Connor, running as an independent. But O’Connor, who cast himself as a true independent who had worked for Republicans and Democrats, was ultimately unable to significantly break in with Democratic voters.
He mostly just took Republican votes from Guinta, who had become increasingly unpopular in the district after accepting in April 2015 a Federal Election Commission ruling that he had illegally accepted donations from his parents during his first run for Congress.
Perhaps fittingly, it was those improper donations from 2010 ― the same ones that helped Guinta win the Republican primary that year and thus win the election ― that may have cost him his seat this year.
In 2010, the FEC concluded that Guinta’s parents had given him money so that he could then loan his campaign $355,000. Individuals are limited to $2,700 donations, so Guinta’s parents’ money was an excessive donation. After years of contending that the money was his, Guinta agreed that it was an illegal contribution and agreed to pay it back along with a $15,000 fine.
But, surprisingly, Guinta continued to tell voters the money was his. He contended he had made contributions to the “Guinta Family Fund” when he was younger that had, over 20 years, come to exceed the money he had taken from his parents. He even paid the money back to an account he claims to own.
New Hampshire voters never bought the story. Neither did New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, the right-leaning Union Leader, whose publisher, Joseph McQuaid, wrote a six-word editorial in May 2015: “Frank Guinta is a damned liar.”
Guinta tried to put the scandal behind him, focusing on the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire and his efforts to reach across the aisle. But Guinta’s uneasy support of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and Guinta’s own scandals undid him.
At least, until the next election.