MANCHESTER, NH – Just before 8 p.m. on election night Victoria Sullivan made her way into Soho Bistro with a small entourage. Enough votes had been tabulated and announced that she knew what had to come next.
It wasn’t going to be her night.
She entered the lobby and, after a long consoling hug from stalwart supporter and past Manchester GOP Committee Chair Tammy Simmons, Sullivan made a beeline for her family, then went straight to the back of the room looking for a microphone to address her supporters.
But after a few minutes of technical difficulties, Sullivan decided to forgo amplification.
“Hi everybody,” she said. “We can’t get the microphone to work but I”ve been told I have a loud enough voice for most rooms,” the setup for what Sullivan and her supporters already knew. For the second consecutive try, Sullivan could not unseat Mayor Joyce Craig, who won a third term in Tuesday’s election by about 1,200 votes.
I want to thank you all so much for all the blood, sweat and tears that you guys put into this campaign. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it tonight,” Sullivan said. “I’m heartbroken because I just really believe the city needs leadership and change and I’m heartbroken for the people of our city.”
She urged her supporters to “not stop fighting for our city,” and to volunteer. She asked them to continue to hold city leadership accountable to “clean-up our streets,” a continuation of her campaign mantra, which focused on “Craig’s chaos,” and highlighted Sullivan’s main platform, which was a view of a city in decline.
After her brief remarks, Sullivan elaborated on why she believes the election didn’t go her way.
“We knew we were up against a ton of money and a lot of times that’s what it comes down to, but I will say this: We had buy-in from Republicans and people from all around the state and the nation who were watching this race. We worked with people across the board. I think if we had more momentum if we didn’t have a primary we would’ve won tonight. Primaries always tie up resources, but we came out strong after the primary and we couldn’t have worked harder and people couldn’t have been more all-in for this,” Sullivan said.
Sure enough, the high-profile endorsements were there: former Mayor Ray Wieczorek, who supported Sullivan over her primary opponent Rich Girard, who served as a staffer for Wieczorek during his term at City Hall; former U.S. Senator and NH Attorney General Kelly Ayotte; former U.S. Congressman and NH Senator Jeb Bradley, current U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, and former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown – who was in attendance at Tuesday night’s post-election event at Soho Bistro; speaker of the NH House Sherm Packard, and Gov. Chris Sununu. Despite the local and national endorsements, there were some obvious campaign shortcomings and missteps: Sullivan’s lack of political experience along with the perception that her plans, on paper, for turning things around were light on specifics, coupled with her hard-edged campaign strategy that leaned negative at a time in history when the public has become adept at tuning out negative vibes.
When asked what’s next, Sullivan didn’t hesitate.
“I’m going to take time for my family. We were out door-knocking every single day in all weather. In one weekend we did 12 miles. Our message resonated with so many people. We came out stronger than last time in Wards 1 and 2 but it wasn’t enough,” Sullivan said.
And she said she would continue to do what she has always done, which is to be involved. After attending a vigil on Sunday for Thamba Mbungu, a 20-year-old Central High School alumni who was shot and killed the previous weekend at Derryfield Park, Sullivan said her main focus will be on the kids.
“There’s so much tragedy in our city. Those young people [at the vigil] were literally crying out for the adults of our city for change and the fact we didn’t deliver that for them tonight was heartbreaking. I will continue to be in the community – I don’t walk away just because I didn’t win,” Sullivan said. “This is where I live and I’ll always give back to my community.”
Below: Sullivan’s remarks at Soho Bistro following her defeat in the 2021 Mayoral race.