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Benson projected to win N.H. governor race


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CONCORD, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Multimillionaire businessman Craig Benson defeated Democrat state Sen. Mark Fernald in the open race for New Hampshire governor, CNN projects.

Benson will succeed retiring three-term Democrat Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, who is running for the Senate.

Benson had a substantial lead in the polls going into the contest Tuesday. Fernald, who unsuccessfully challenged Shaheen in 2000 in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, refused to take New Hampshire's traditional "pledge" to veto an income tax and advocated a 4 percent income tax to fund education. New Hampshire has neither a general income tax nor a sales tax.

Benson, founder of Cabletron Systems, spent more than $9 million, the bulk of it his own money, in a bitter GOP primary against former state Sen. Bruce Keough and former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey, the 2000 Republican gubernatorial nominee.

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