After election loss, Van Ostern unsure of future plans

  • Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern speaks during a campaign canvass kick-off rally in Concord earlier this month. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/25/2016 11:20:29 PM

Fresh off an unsuccessful campaign for governor, Concord resident Colin Van Ostern isn’t sure what comes next. 

“Politics is not really what I am focused on right now to be honest,” said the Democrat, who lost the recent gubernatorial race to fellow Executive Councilor Chris Sununu. “I am enjoying having some additional time with family and friends.” 

It’s the first time in over a decade that a Republican will take control of the corner office in New Hampshire. The party had a strong showing in the election, maintaining control of the state House, Senate and Executive Council for another two-year term. 

Van Ostern, who moved to New Hampshire in the early 2000s to work for presidential and senate candidates, seldom spoke of his campaign background on the trail, instead focusing on his work in the private sector at Stonyfield Yogurt and the nonprofit College for America.

The Democrat said he hasn’t decided what comes next professionally. 

Van Ostern took a leave of absence from College for America earlier this year, but remains listed as a senior advisor on its website. A spokeswoman for College for America declined to say whether Van Ostern remains a paid employee and didn’t respond to follow up questions. 

Van Ostern said he hasn’t “finalized plans to return to a new role” at College for America, but said he is “excited by the work CFA has continued in my absence and hope to help it along if I can.”

During the campaign, Van Ostern laid out plans to expand commuter rail to New Hampshire, fund full-day kindergarten and strengthen the workforce. Though he is leaving public office, he pledged to carry out that work in the private sector. 

“It’s still really important to me,” he said. “Those are the things I will continue to work on professionally.”

Van Ostern was first elected to the Executive Council in 2012, campaigning on a platform to fund Planned Parenthood and study a rail expansion. He jumped into the race for governor last year, soon after Gov. Maggie Hassan announced her intention to run for U.S. Senate. 

Van Ostern made it through a three-way primary contest, but lost to Sununu by about 17,500 votes. 

The youngest candidate to seek statewide office this year at 37 years-old, Van Ostern didn’t rule out another political run. 

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me or anyone else for that matter to be thinking about elections two or four years away. There’s a lot of work we have to do as a country,” he said. “That work is a lot more important than the next election.”

But his work as an elected official isn’t quite through. Van Ostern’s seat on the Executive Council will be taken by fellow Concord Democrat Andru Volinsky. Van Ostern will represent the district at two more meetings before year end. 

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or

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