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Kathy Sullivan, Fixture In N.H. Democratic Politics, Won't Seek New Term On DNC

A longtime defender of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary won’t be running for another term at the Democratic National Committee.

Kathy Sullivan has helped fight off some of the biggest challenges to the New Hampshire primary in recent years, including a battle before the 2008 election cycle that resulted in South Carolina and Nevada moving up in the nominating calendar. Sullivan has been a fixture in New Hampshire Democratic politics for decades, but she said Monday that it’s time to give someone with a “fresh voice” a chance to represent the state with the national party.

“It’s always good to go out when people think you’re doing a good job and they’re not asking you to leave,” Sullivan joked.

Sullivan has become an essential part of New Hampshire's first line of defense against threats to its first-in-the-nation status. She led the state Democratic Party from 1999 to 2007 and has been involved with local and presidential campaigns for the past 12 years. She also served as national committeewoman at the DNC, where she sat on the influential Rules and Bylaws Committee.

New Hampshire Democratic politics have become part of her identity. And yet she says she won’t miss her gig at the DNC.

“You know, I'm a person who, when I shut a door I typically don't look back,” Sullivan said. “I mean, that's sort of wasted energy to look back. I always say you gotta look ahead.”

Sullivan said she will stay involved in local Democratic politics, and she said her replacement will be working alongside party veterans like Bill Shaheen, another longtime New Hampshire Democrat and the husband of U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen. 

But the next committeeman or committeewoman could have their work cut out for them. DNC Chair Tom Perez has said the party will discuss the order of early states in the presidential nominating process after the election, meaning New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation spot could be threatened again.

But Sullivan said she’s not worried.

"We'll be fine,” she said.

Lauren is a Senior Reporter/Producer for NHPR's narrative news unit, Document.

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