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Rep. Annie Kuster says she will not run for reelection in 2024

Congresswoman Annie Kuster, a Democrat who has represented New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District since 2013, announced March 27 that she is not running for reelection in 2024. Here she is shown at the State House in 2022.
Josh Rogers
/
NHPR
Congresswoman Annie Kuster, a Democrat who has represented New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District since 2013, announced March 27 that she is not running for reelection in 2024. Here she is shown at the State House in 2022.

U.S. Representative Annie Kuster says she is not running for reelection this year, ending a 12-year run in Congress.

The Hopkinton Democrat has represented New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District since 2013, and is the longest-serving member in the history of the district, which covers the western half of the state and stretches from New Hampshire’s southern border all the way to Canada.

In an interview, Kuster, 67, said she's proud of her work to bring more money for infrastructure, including broadband access, to New Hampshire communities. She also said she plans to use her final months in office helping other Democrats across the country get elected to Congress.

“I want to save our county, and I think it’s a big threat, what’s happening in Washington and nationally, so I want to use my time to really lean in,” she said.

Kuster, who worked as a lawyer and State House lobbyist before winning election in 2012, leads the New Democratic Coalition, a centrist House caucus and political organization aimed at recruiting members willing to work across the aisle.

In her years in Congress, Kuster focused on bringing more money to fight the spread of opioid addiction. She and former Republican Congressman Frank Giunta, teamed up in 2015 to found Congress’ Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force,which Kuster still co-chairs.

Kuster, a victim of sexual assault in college, also led the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence.

“I’m proud of the work I did.” Kuster said.

Kuster said a recent conversation she had with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson gives her hope that Congress could reach a bipartisan deal to approve more aid to Ukraine, Israel and residents of Gaza. But she said that political polarization has made the work of serving in Washington more difficult.

“There is no doubt this is a very challenging time,” she said. “The toughest two years that I’ve had of the 12.”

Kuster’s decision to step aside sets up a wide open race to succeed her.

On the Democratic side, former executive councilor Colin Van Ostern, who mounted unsuccessful bids for governor in 2016 and secretary of state in 2018 — and who managed Kuster’s first losing race for Congress in 2010 — was quick to praise Kuster in a statement Wednesday.

“Annie has spoken truth to power on countless issues, like fighting to end the war in Iraq and for full LGBT equality before either were popular views even in the Democratic Party,” Van Ostern wrote.

Other Democrats believed to be eyeing a run include Hopkinton State Sen. Becky Whitley, who took to social media Wednesday to praise Kuster as “a mentor, an inspiration, and a true friend to me and so many women in #NHPolitics.”

With an open seat, the race to succeed Kuster is sure to draw Republicans, too. In 2022 conservative businessman and serial candidate Bob Burns won a 3-way GOP primary over former Keene Mayor George Hansel and liberty-minded Republican Lily Tang Williams.

With Kuster out of the picture, the Republican field could be bigger this year..

Kuster said she will get involved in the race and expects to endorse a candidate at some point. She said she could seek public office again, but stressed she was in no hurry to do so.

“Put it this way: I feel very good about the next chapter of my life, and one thing I can tell you is it will include a lot of skiing,” she said.

Read Kuster's full statement here.

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Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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