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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Concord Sen. Sylvia Larsen won’t run for re-election, as other NH candidates file

CONCORD – The highlight of the opening of candidate filing season for the 2014 campaign Wednesday was not who showed up, but who bowed out.

Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, stunned political observers and even her own colleagues with her surprising decision not to seek
re-election to an 11th term. ...

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CONCORD – The highlight of the opening of candidate filing season for the 2014 campaign Wednesday was not who showed up, but who bowed out.

Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, stunned political observers and even her own colleagues with her surprising decision not to seek
re-election to an 11th term.

Larsen said she was leaving the Senate to spend more time with her family.

“As I look back on my time in the Senate, I thank the people in my district for the trust they have given me through these 10 elections that has allowed me to accomplish much of what I came here to do,” Larsen said in a speech at the close of the Senate session.

Larsen’s departure opens up a scramble of potential Democratic candidates for this district, which includes Concord, Hopkinton, Henniker and Warner.

The filing period that opened Wednesday runs through Friday, June 13.

Gregory Moore, a longtime Republican campaign operative who runs the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, said there’s little hope for Republicans to win in this central New Hampshire district.

“It’s one of the three most Democratic in the entire Senate,” Moore said. “The real question I have is whether there’s some Concord Democratic insider who’s known about this and is ready to step forward to try and grab this seat.”

Gov. Maggie Hassan, a former Senate majority leader herself while Larsen led the Senate, said Larsen has been a trailblazer throughout her career.

“I was proud to serve in the Senate with her when she became New Hampshire’s longest-serving female Senate president and led the nation’s first legislative body to include a majority of women,’’ Hassan said in a statement.

“During Senator Larsen’s distinguished 10-term career in the Senate, she advanced a variety of important causes that are critical to the well-being of our people and maintaining our status as one of the safest, healthiest and most livable states in the nation.”

A slow parade of candidates started showing up at Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s office to turn in their filing papers and pay a candidacy fee.

Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, achieved the honor of being first in line to sign up when the doors opened at 8 a.m.

“This is quite an honor and, I hope, a good omen,’’ said Woodburn, who is seeking a second term representing the northernmost part of the state.

Right behind Woodburn was Andy Martin, R-Manchester, who is seeking nomination to the U.S. Senate.

Martin has been critical of frontrunner Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts senator who moved to the state last November.

“I am worried about people from Massachusetts coming up to register for Scott Brown,” Martin said.

Martin is not a longtime resident of the state, either. In 2012, he ran in the GOP presidential primary here as a resident of Chicago.

Gardner said the smaller-than-usual turnout on opening day does not necessarily mean there will be fewer candidates than in elections past.

“Some years, we have had a lot at the beginning, but it tapered off. You really can’t tell much by the first hours of the filing period,” said Gardner, who has been the state’s top election official for four decades.

“We have had a lot of inquiring calls about the major offices from newfound candidates.”

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., became the first prominent incumbent to turn in her papers Wednesday morning and meet with supporters outside the Statehouse.

“Today, I filed my intent to run for re-election so I can continue to work across the aisle and fight for the issues that matter most to us, from increasing jobs and opportunities for every Granite State family to protecting Medicare, Social Security and other programs our seniors and veterans rely on and deserve,” Kuster said.

Seeking the GOP nomination in the 2nd Congressional District race are former state Sen. Gary Lambert, of Nashua, and Rep. Marilinda Garcia, of Salem.

Many candidates who signed up today were seeking open seats, such as Jennifer Daler, D-Temple, who is running for the Executive Council spot that Nashua Democrat Debora Pignatelli is retiring from this fall.

A former House member, Daler said she is committed to supporting the return of commuter rail from Boston through Nashua and on to Concord.

Nashua Alderman Diane Sheehan, a Democrat, also has said she will seek her party’s nomination for the Fifth District Executive Council seat.

Rep. George Lambert, R-Litchfield, made official his move to oppose the re-election of state Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, in the district that includes southeastern wards of the city and Litchfield.

And Rep. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, became the first of at least three GOP hopefuls who want to replace retiring Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Derry.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at
321-7040 or klandrigan@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).