×

Kuster: I'm running for Congress again



Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Five months after being narrowly defeated by Republican Charlie Bass, Democrat Ann McLane Kuster announced yesterday that she is taking a second run at the U.S. House in November 2012.

In a statement posted on her campaign website, Kuster said after observing "what is happening - in Washington, in Concord, and across the country - it is clear to me that this is no time to sit on the sidelines."

"People were asking if I was going to run again, and I wanted to make sure that people are aware that I'll work very, very hard for the seat," Kuster said in an interview yesterday. "A grassroots campaign takes a lot of time to organize, and that's what we expect to do again this time."

Kuster, 54, of Hopkinton, lost to Bass, a former six-term congressman from the 2nd District, by 3,550 votes in November.

"It was very close - 1 percent - it was one of the closest races in the country against a former member of Congress," Kuster said. "I had not run for political office, so I was very encouraged by the grassroots support that we had."

Kuster beat Democratic challenger Katrina Swett by a nearly 2-to-1 margin in last year's primary. She said she will wait to formally kick off her campaign until about a year from now, sometime after the presidential primary.

Bass spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne declined to comment on Kuster's announcement.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has named the 2nd District as one of 25 districts it is focused on in order to take back control of the House. Of those districts, it was one of 14 carried by both President Obama in 2008 and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004.

The DCCC began running radio ads against Bass earlier this year.

"It's no surprise that Representative Bass is scared of Ann McLane Kuster's candidacy," DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin said in a statement yesterday. Schwerin accused Bass of pandering "to the extreme right of his party" and described Kuster as "a fighter who will stand up for New Hampshire's families and businesses to rebuild the economy."

Kuster described herself in yesterday's statement as a "frugal Yankee." She said she plans to focus on job creation and cutting wasteful spending in areas like oil subsidies and corporate tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.

Kuster said she supports Obama's recent action in response to unrest in the Middle East. She said she felt the military intervention in Libya is appropriate because it's "primarily a humanitarian mission and the international community is leading, not just the U.S."

"I think that's the right approach," she said. "I think we've got to be very careful about not ending up in our third full-scale military operation putting American lives at stake."

Since the election in November, Kuster has founded Newfound Strategies, a consulting practice that helps nonprofits with fundraising and strategic planning. Though she has maintained an office at her former law firm, Rath Young & Pignatelli, Kuster said she is no longer practicing law.

So far, Kuster has hired one full-time campaign staffer: finance director Emily Mellencamp-Smith, a 25-year-old Burlington, Vt., native and former fellow at pro-choice group EMILY's List. Mellencamp-Smith most recently worked on the unsuccessful re-election bid of U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas of Florida and is leaving a mayoral campaign in Jacksonville to join Kuster.

Colin Van Ostern, Kuster's campaign manager last year, said he only plans to help out in a volunteer capacity this time around, as he has recently taken a marketing position with Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry and has a 6-month-old son.

However, Van Ostern said pollster Mark Mellman, television ad consultant Jason Ralston and direct mail consultant Paul Ambrosino have all agreed to work again with Kuster. Kuster said she plans to register her new campaign with the Federal Election Commission after Friday and will then begin fundraising.

Kuster said she intends to spend the next several months traveling throughout the district and getting back in touch with her supporters.

"I expect to be a voice for working families in New Hampshire, and as issues come up I'll speak out," she said.

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com.)