New Hampshire Republican candidate wins eligibility dispute

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 30, 2014 3:15 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New Hampshire Republican who hopes to run against Governor Maggie Hassan in the November election was given the green light on Monday to compete in the state's Republican primary after winning a dispute over his eligibility.

The state's Ballot Law Commission ruled 3-2 that Walt Havenstein, a businessman and former Marine, met the requirement that candidates live in the state for seven years before running, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Secretary of State said. A formal opinion will be released within days, she said.

Democrats challenged Havenstein's eligibility on the basis that he maintained a residence in Maryland while working at Virginia-based defense contractors several years ago. Democrats say he received a tax credit on his Maryland home and obtained a Maryland drivers license.

"The fact remains that Havenstein is either ineligible to run in New Hampshire or was misleading Maryland on his taxes," New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said this month.

Havenstein, who plans to face Andrew Hemingway in the Sept. 9 Republican primary, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But local media reported that his campaign called the ruling a vindication.

"The suggestion that somehow, by having a temporary, very spartan apartment for work purposes in another state ... divests you of a domicile in New Hampshire is just untenable and at a certain point unfair,” Havenstein’s lawyer, David Vicinanzo, said, according to the Concord Monitor newspaper.

The winner of the Republican primary will run against Hassan, a Democrat, in the general election.

(Reporting By Edith Honan; Editing by Doina Chiacu)