The country's first primary state was hardly first with its returns last night, as glacial vote-counting in New Hampshire had Republican Senate candidates Kelly Ayotte and Ovide Lamontagne unsure of the outcome of their close race until this morning.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State announced today that Kelly Ayotte won the nod for Republican Senate candidate by more than 1,600 votes. Lamontagne had carried a small lead most of Election Night, and had even addressed his supporters optimistically around midnight saying, "We've been ahead all night, and there's no reason to believe we won't be ahead when the voting ends."

The Union Leader:

The Secretary of State's office has just announced that Kelly Ayotte has won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate with 53,044 votes. Ovide Lamontagne received 51,377 votes. More to follow.

Ayotte was seen as the more establishment candidate than Lamontagne, but she also had Sarah Palin's endorsement. Pro-life groups came to her defense amid attacks on her pro-life credentials by Lamontagne supporters.

Sarah Palin's final primary record for endorsements is 25-11.

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