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NEW ENGLAND

Turnout low as primaries held for governor, Senate

Candidates throughout New England were engaged in primary battles yesterday.

In New Hampshire, sparse voter turnout and the lack of major Republican challengers in primaries for governor, Congress, and US Senate led to early decisions for the incumbents.

Governor Craig Benson, Senator Judd Gregg, and US Representatives Jeb Bradley and Charles Bass all won their primaries handily.

Among Democrats, John Lynch easily beat Paul McEachern in the gubernatorial race and Paul Hodes won the Second District primary to face Bass in November. The winner in the First District Democratic primary remained unclear.

In Rhode Island, Representative Patrick Kennedy coasted to a win in the Democratic Party's primary election for the First Congressional District, a region he's represented for a decade. With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Kennedy had 74 percent of the vote to storyteller Mark Binder's 26 percent, according to unofficial results.

Kennedy, 37, will face Republican challenger David Rogers in November, a repeat matchup from two years ago.

Rhode Island's other Democratic congressman, Representative Jim Langevin, was unopposed in yesterday's primary for the Second District.

Langevin will face Republican Chuck Barton, of East Greenwich, in November.

Barton is East Greenwich's town council president and has served on the School Committee there.

In Vermont, the biggest race was between Democrats Cheryl Rivers of Stockbridge and Jan Backus of Winooski, both former state senators who want to run for lieutenant governor.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting last night, Rivers was called the winner with 53 percent of the vote to Backus's 47 percent.

Senator Patrick Leahy is seeking his sixth consecutive six-year term, and he faced a challenge from Craig Hill of Montpelier, who argued that the Bush administration and Leahy should have known about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks before they happened and done something to stop them.

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