Candidates Chuck Grassie and David Walker are maintaining a friendly relationship in the contest that ended in a tie after all the votes were counted. A recount yielded the same result, forcing a special election between the incumbent Democrat Grassie and his Republican challenger.
The New Hampshire House had the ability to decide the outcome themselves, but during a session last week, they opted to send the race back to the city, which is going to hold a new vote.
The race has become extremely important in the Granite State. There are 400 seats in the New Hampshire House, and Republicans control the chamber by the slimmest of margins, 201-198. It can’t get any closer in Rochester’s Ward Four, and in the entire state.
But with so much on the line, Grassie and Walker are keeping it civil, and it’s because they go back a long time with each other. Grassie, who is 11 years Walker’s senior, previously served as a mentor to Walker, helping him learn how to read the budget, among other tasks.
Meanwhile, Walker pitched in on Grassie’s campaign for mayor years ago, even though the two differ quite a bit politically. Despite the ideological differences, and despite the tension of a close contest with surprisingly high stakes, the race between Grassie and Walker has been free of vitriol.
They see each other not as enemies but neighbors, literally, as they live on the same street.
“Dave bought the house door next to me as a rental, and I was over there this summer helping him beat back some invasive species and cutting down some trees for him,” Grassie said Thursday on “Dan Abrams Live.” “We’ve worked together on a lot of local issues which are nonpartisan.”
Walker has been a longtime councilman on the Rochester City Council and has worked with Grassie over the past 30 years.
“We leave our differences inside council chambers and we go out and have a beer or whatever we do after the meeting. We’ve gotten along for many many years and done a lot of good for the citizens of Rochester,” Walker said. “I don’t play the mudslinging game, I never have.”
The tone of the local standoff is in stark contrast to those at the national level, where mudslinging has been commonplace in recent years. President Joe Biden has accused the “MAGA wing” of the Republican Party of being a threat to democracy, while the GOP has threatened payback for probes into Donald Trump with investigations of their own into Biden and his son.
Can Washington take an example and adopt the civility being shown in this local race?
“Well I don’t think you’re ever gonna get it to spread that far,” Walker said with a chuckle.
His opponent agreed.
“I’m not saying this is something you can take anywhere else, and I’m not saying that all is perfect here in Rochester,” Grassie said. “But some of us are old school, you could say.”