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Ex-N.H. House speaker Bill O’Brien takes new job, ends nascent campaign for U.S. Congress

Last modified: 8/27/2013 5:43:36 PM
Former state House speaker Bill O’Brien has decided to end his nascent campaign for Congress.

O’Brien, a lawyer and Republican state representative from Mont Vernon, had been gearing up to challenge first-term U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, a Hopkinton Democrat, in 2014. But he started a new job yesterday as chief operating officer of the Cambridge, Mass.-based U.S. subsidiary of Brainloop, a German software company.

He said he’s done legal work for the company for years, and the job prospect emerged in the last couple of weeks.

“It’s just such an interesting opportunity for me,” O’Brien said. “It’s good for me. It’s good for my family. It’s just something I couldn’t pass up.”

As a result, he said, he won’t run for Congress.

“An interesting life has many attractive choices, and I’ve been honored that for me some of those choices have been public offices,” he said.

With O’Brien’s departure from the 2nd District race, former state senator Gary Lambert of Nashua is the sole Republican who’s announced he’s exploring a run against Kuster. Lambert said yesterday he’ll make an announcement about the race Sept. 4.

O’Brien became speaker of the House following the 2010 election, which saw Republicans win veto-proof majorities in the Legislature. For two years, he was a lightning rod for criticism from Democrats and others, especially over deep spending cuts in the two-year state budget enacted in 2011.

After Democrats retook the House in 2012, O’Brien retained his seat but didn’t seek to lead the Republican caucus or serve on a committee. Instead, he turned his attention toward a run for Congress.

While he didn’t formally declare he was a candidate, he gave every indication he would run against Kuster next year. He created an “O’Brien for Congress” committee in April, set up a campaign website, started raising money and filed a “statement of candidacy” July 10 with the Federal Election Commission.

But O’Brien’s fundraising got off to a slow start. He raised more than $42,000 in the second quarter, plus $60,000 that he loaned his own campaign, with $88,000 on hand as of June 30.

Kuster, who won her seat last year after losing in 2010 to Republican Charlie Bass, raised nearly $346,000 in the second quarter and had $557,000 on hand at mid-year.

O’Brien said yesterday he’ll remain in the state House, representing a district comprising Mont Vernon and New Boston.

“I will still meet my obligations as a state representative,” O’Brien said. “We’re back in session in January, and I’ll be there every session day.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein welcomed O’Brien’s departure from the 2nd District race.

“O’Brien knows that running on the irresponsible O’Brien-Bradley record would be a disaster in 2014, just like it was in 2012,” Kirstein said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican and potential candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

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


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