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GOP’s Kevin Smith takes top job in Londonderry, won’t run for N.H. governor in 2014

Kevin Smith <br/>

Kevin Smith

Republican Kevin Smith, who ran for governor last year, has decided not to run again in 2014 because he’s been hired as the new town manager in Londonderry.

“I am not running for governor in ’14, or for the foreseeable future, anyway,” Smith said yesterday.

Londonderry’s town council hired Smith, 36, Thursday night, and he starts his new job Aug. 15.

A state representative from 1996 to 1998, Smith later ran Cornerstone Action, a conservative advocacy group. He ran for governor in 2012 and finished second in the Republican primary, behind Ovide Lamontagne, who lost in November to Democrat Maggie Hassan.

Hassan remains popular more than a half-year after taking office – a University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll out this week showed 45 percent of residents think she deserves to win
re-election next year, versus
25 percent who’d prefer someone else. The poll, taken July 18-29, had a 4.3 percent margin of error.

No Republicans have announced they’ll run yet against Hassan, though state Rep. George Lambert of Litchfield has said he’s exploring a run. He said yesterday he hasn’t made a decision, but that Smith’s choice makes it more likely that he will run.

“I think that it’s very, very encouraging that Kevin’s not running for my outlook. . . . I’m a lot closer today than I was two days ago,” Lambert said.

The UNH poll out this week found two other potential GOP candidates, Sen. Chuck Morse of Salem and Sen. Andy
Sanborn of Bedford, remain largely unknown. Morse is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, while Sanborn chairs the Senate Commerce Committee and owns a Concord sports bar, The Draft.

Executive Councilor Chris Sununu of Newfields had expressed interest in a run for governor, but told the Union Leader last month he would instead seek a third term on the council in 2014.

New Hampshire is just one of two states where governors serve a two-year term; the other is Vermont.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or
bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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