Senator-elect Kevin Cavanaugh celebrated his victory with a handful of New Hampshire elected officials. From left: Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, Sen. David Waters, Sen. Bette Lasky, Democratic Leader Sen. Jeff Woodburn, Cavanaugh, Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, Sen. Donna Soucy, Sen. Dan Feltes and Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky  

Brother Kevin Cavanaugh won a hotly contested state Senate election in New Hampshire on July 25, besting former Republican Sen. Dave Boutin to help Democrats hang on to the important seat.

A city alderman and assistant business manager at Manchester, N.H., Local 2320, Cavanaugh stepped up to run in the special election following the death of Sen. Scott McGilvray, another union activist, who died in office in March.

“We’re so proud of our brother, senator-elect Kevin Cavanaugh,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “He’s a working man who put himself out there to stand up for working people, and we know he’s going to do an amazing job serving the people of New Hampshire. Congratulations to him and to everyone who worked so hard on this campaign.”

Supporters, family and other elected officials cheered Cavanaugh on as he spoke following his special election win. He'll be sworn in to his new position in Concord, N.H. in the days ahead.

Cavanaugh’s victory was the result of an impressive get-out-the-vote effort. “The labor community really rallied around Kevin’s cause and the working class issues he was running for,” said Local 2320 Business Manager Steve Soule. Activists from IBEW locals across the state turned out alongside members of other unions and the progressive community to knock on doors, make phone calls and send mailers to get voters to the polls.

Turnout in special elections is typically low, but 8,700 votes were cast in total, representing 21 percent of the electorate. “This was a tremendous turnout for a mid-summer special election,” Manchester City Clerk Matthew Normand told WMUR, comparing it to what might be typical for a city-wide election in the fall.

Cavanaugh did especially well in the city of Manchester, where three wards are part of the 16th Senate District, including the one he represents on the Board of Aldermen, the New England version of a city council. He plans to keep that job, representing Manchester’s Ward 1 while he serves in the state Senate.

In total, Cavanaugh took 55 percent of the vote to Boutin’s 44 despite the fact that Republicans enjoy a registration advantage in the district of almost 6 percent.

Speaking to WMUR, Cavanaugh wouldn’t characterize his win as an upset, but he did acknowledge the massive effort it took to prevail. “I knew we had a lot of work to do,” he said. “And I like working. Someone told me that I should put my name out there but told me, ‘You’ll never beat him.’ That got me going.”

Before his victorious primary in June, Cavanaugh told the Electrical Worker that it was his background as a Verizon technician and union member that pushed him to step up and fight for the working class in elected office.

“At the IBEW, I see the battles working people go through every day,” Cavanaugh said. “Someone gets cancer and the company wants to take away their health care because they’ve been out of work too long, or gets hurt on the job and their employer wants to reduce their benefits. I have a unique perspective that I can bring to the state Senate.”

He'll join just nine other Democrats in the 24-seat Senate, where Republicans hold the majority by four seats, but he says he’s up to the challenge.

“I’ve been fighting for working people my whole life, only now I’ll have a little bigger platform,” he said. “I can’t wait to get to work on issues important to working families like education and health care and jobs.”

“I’d love to see more of our members following Kevin’s lead,” Stephenson said. “No one represents us better than we can represent ourselves, and that’s why I’m always encouraged when IBEW members step up to run for public office.”

In neighboring Massachusetts, Boston Local 2222 brother Paul Feeney is also running in a state Senate special election, with his primary set for Sept. 19. Members who’d like to find out how they can help his effort are encouraged to visit his website,