New Hampshire Democrat Announces Retirement

By John Celock

A New Hampshire Democrat from a swing district has announced that she will not seek another term in Congress next year.

The surprise announcement from U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter opens up a swing district, that has fluctuated between the two parties almost every election next year, in a state that has seen swing elections for many offices. While Shea-Porter, a fourth term Democrat, unseated a Republican incumbent last year, President Donald Trump won the district along New Hampshire’s seacoast.

“I felt the tug of family at our reunion on Independence Day, and I have continued to feel it,” Shea-Porter said in a statement. “My family has repeatedly said that they would support any decision I made, and I am grateful to them for that and for all of their love and support through the years.”

Shea-Porter, the first woman elected to represent New Hampshire in Congress, was already likely to face another competitive election next year. State Sen. Andy Sanborn and former South Hampton Police Chief Eddie Edwards are already running on the Republican side. Shea-Porter’s unexpected announcement leaves Democrats to look for a candidate in a district where Shea-Porter has been the Democratic nominee since 2006.

The decision comes as New Hampshire is likely to expect a competitive race next year against first term Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and what had been expected to be a competitive battle against Shea-Porter. Shea-Porter’s district has routinely voted for Republicans in midterm races, while elected Shea-Porter in presidential years.

Shea-Porter’s announcement brings to a close a political career that has seen her trade the seat with Republican Frank Giunta four times since 2010.

Shea-Porter was a little known activist when she defeated the Democratic Party’s preferred candidate in a 2006 primary and then unseated two-term Republican U.S. Rep. Jeb Bradley that year. She won a second term in 2008, defeating Bradley, now the state Senate majority leader, again.

Shea-Porter lost the seat against Giunta, a former Manchester mayor, in 2010, but came back and defeated Giunta in 2012. Giunta then came back and unseated Shea-Porter in 2014 with Shea-Porter unseating Giunta in 2016. Giunta has announced that he will not run for Congress in 2018.

Shea-Porter currently serves on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and House Armed Services Committee and previously served on the House Armed Services Committee.

She is the second Democrat elected in 2016 who had previously served in Congress to announce they are not seeking another term in 2018. Earlier this year, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) announced that she would not run for Congress next year in order to seek the Hawaii governorship.