Les Otten, second from right, and Tom Tillotson, right, cut cakes late Monday night marking the 60th anniversary of the midnight vote at The Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch, N.H. The tradition was started by Tillotson’s father, Neil, and kicks off New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary election. Caledonian-Record via AP

LEWISTON — Former Sunday River resort owner and onetime Maine gubernatorial candidate Les Otten made national news when he helped host voting Tuesday for the first ballots cast in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Otten, a registered Republican, voted for Mike Bloomberg, who is running for president as a Democrat. Otten was one of five residents of Dixville Notch who cast ballots shortly after midnight Tuesday.

He said in an interview with the Sun Journal on Tuesday that he pondered his options painstakingly over a long period and even quizzed the former New York City mayor personally, who phoned Otten recently.

Otten said his views aligned best with Bloomberg on “critical” core issues of climate change and the national debt.

Otten, 70, lives in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, where he is co-owner and developer of The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel, the place where Dixville Notch voting has taken place since 1960.

“It’s sort of an obligation of the owner of the property — if the tradition is going to continue — to take part in that” process.

Otten bought a home there six years ago when he began renovating The Balsams, where he cast his ballot in the 2016 election. He said he moves around a lot depending on what’s happening in his business life.

After 2016, he left for business reasons, then returned last year as a resident.

“I’m back and forth as time and kids and business relationships take me,” he said. “I’m not abandoning the state of Maine, nor am I abandoning the state of New Hampshire.”

Otten is co-owner of a renewable energy company with his son, Benjamin Jacob Otten of Bethel, that does more business in New Hampshire than Maine, he said, because of the two states’ respective energy policies.

In 2016, Otten was one of nine voters in Dixville Notch, most of them living at The Balsams. This year, he was one of five residents — and voters — the minimum number needed for the tiny hamlet to hold its own election in New Hampshire.

Of the five voters, four were undeclared, he said. They all took Democrat ballots: one voted for Buttigieg; one for Warren; and two wrote in Bloomberg’s name. Otten said he took a Republican ballot and wrote in Bloomberg.

“I had prior to the election come to the conclusion that there was not a Republican that met my ideals of what I thought the Republican Party was,” he said. “My opinion is that the Republican Party sort of left me.”

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