On the trail: New name in race to succeed Kuster in Congress

Maggie Goodlander

Maggie Goodlander —Courtesy


For the Monitor

Published: 04-05-2024 9:56 AM

The wife of a top adviser to President Joe Biden is considering a bid in the race to succeed longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District.

Maggie Goodlander, a top Biden administration lawyer at the U.S. Justice Department who served as a deputy assistant attorney general, has been reaching out to Democratic politicians and leaders in the Granite State, Democratic sources confirm to Monitor. Goodlander, a New Hampshire native, is married to U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

“It was a very pleasant conversation. She introduced herself, told me a little about her background and that she’s seriously considering running in the 2nd CD. We spoke about the importance of winning in November,” former New Hampshire Democratic Party chair and former Democratic National Committee member Kathy Sullivan said of her discussion  with Goodlander.

Goodlander and Sullivan married nine years ago, in a wedding that attracted some top Democratic Party officials and politicians, including former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sullivan served as an adviser on then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign and later that year on former President Barack Obama's general election presidential campaign.

He served as deputy chief of staff to Clinton during her years as Secretary of State in the Obama administration. After Clinton departed the administration, Sullivan became then-Vice President Biden's top security aide. Sullivan then served as a top adviser on Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Four years later, he was one of Biden's first appointments following the 2020 presidential election.

While not as well-known as her high-profile husband, Goodlander also has a jam-packed resume. A Yale University and Yale Law School graduate, she served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and worked as an adviser to late Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. 

She also served as a law clerk to Attorney General Merrick Garland during his tenure as chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Goodlander hails from a prominent New Hampshire family.

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Her grandfather, Sam Tamposi, was a major player in state Republican politics. And her mother, Betty Tamposi, ran for the U.S. House in 1988 in the Second District but lost in the GOP primary.

In some ways, Goodlander's story mirrors that of Kuster, the woman she's trying to succeed in Congress. Kuster's parents were also prominent Republicans in New Hampshire, but she ran as a Democrat.

While Goodlander and Sullivan spend much of their time in the nation’s capital, due to their jobs, they own a home in Portsmouth.

While the port city on the Seacoast is located in the state’s First Congressional District, the geography won’t prevent Goodland from running in the Second District if she decides to launch a campaign.

The U.S. Constitution only mandates that a candidate must reside in the state in which their running in, not the specific congressional district.

The most recent high-profile example of a Democratic congressional candidate in New Hampshire campaigning in a district outside of their residence was six years ago, when Levi Sanders – the son of Sen. Bernie Sanders – ran in the First District even though he lived in the Second District.

Colin Van Ostern, who worked as Kuster's campaign manager in 2010 in her first run for Congress, and who later won two terms as a New Hampshire executive councilor before winning the 2016 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, announced his bid the day after Kuster's retirement announcement.

But the Democratic nomination race to replace Kuster is expected to become crowded, and competitive.

State Sen. Becky Whitley of Hopkinton this week launched an exploratory committee. And former executive councilor and 2020 gubernatorial candidate Andru Volinsky is also mulling a bid.

Burns out; will Hansel get in?

Bob Burns, the two-time Republican congressional candidate in the Second District who won the GOP nomination two years ago before losing by 12 points to Kuster, is switching races.

Burns, a former Hillsborough County treasurer, dropped his 2024 congressional bid this week and announced he would run for the newly open seat on New Hampshire’s five-member Executive Council.

The announcement by Burns came after former Manchester mayor and current three-term Executive Councilor Ted Gatsas announced he would retire at the end of the year rather than seek another two-year term on the council.

Former Keene Mayor George Hansel, who came in second to Burns in the 2022 GOP congressional primary in the Second District, said the news won’t affect his decision-making process as he seriously mulls making a second straight bid for Congress.

“The decision to run for office is a personal one,” he told the Monitor on Thursday.

“I’m doing some research. I’m talking to people. I’m making a trip down to DC in a couple of weeks to better understand how a Republican member of Congress from New England is going to be received and what he can actually get done. That’s where I’m at,” he said. “I want to talk the current membership, the members that I know, that I’ve gotten to know over the years, and understand what their thinking is for the next session of Congress.”

“I’ve always been somebody who gets into public service to get things done, not just to sort of participate,” Hansel added. “I want to get a clearer picture of what that looks like before I jump into a race like this.”

Another Republican who’s considering a bid in the Second District is 2022 U.S. Senate candidate Vikram Mansharamani. Republican sources tell the Monitor that Mansharmani has been making calls regarding a potential campaign.