Van Ostern ready to jump in as soon as Kuster steps down

Colin Van Ostern was a candidate for governor in 2016 when he lost to Chris Sununu.

Colin Van Ostern was a candidate for governor in 2016 when he lost to Chris Sununu. Andrew Harnik / AP file

By MICHAELA TOWFIGHI

Monitor staff

Published: 03-28-2024 3:44 PM

Colin Van Ostern, a former state Executive Councilor with a long resume as a political operative, will run for Congress this fall, he announced Thursday, the day after U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster announced she would not seek a seventh term.

Van Ostern became the Democratic nominee to run for governor in 2016, but was defeated by Chris Sununu. 

At the time, Sununu and Van Ostern were both serving on the five-member executive council, but Sununu came out on top in the general election with 49 to 46.7 percent of the vote. 

While on the Executive Council, Van Ostern worked to restore state funding for Planned Parenthood and other family planning centers. Now, he said reproductive freedom is one of the key tenants of his Congressional campaign launch. 

“Fixing Washington starts with passing a national law to protect reproductive rights – from IVF and birth control to abortion access – no matter which state you live in,” he wrote in a letter to supporters announcing his campaign. 

He said the country’s elected officials need to do a better job working together to lower the costs of housing, higher education, healthcare, and childcare.

Prior to his election to the Executive Council, Van Ostern worked as a business executive for Southern New Hampshire University and Stonyfield Yogurt. He also served as a political operative, working as a press secretary for John Edward’s campaign in 2004 and campaign manager for Kuster in 2010. 

His business experience, coupled with the community he and his wife have found in Concord with their two kids, is an example of creating unity in a time of division, he wrote. 

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“Outside of politics, there is more common ground in our communities than most in Washington understand,” he said. “I see that common ground every day.”

Kuster’s announcement came as a surprise to New Hampshire. She was first elected in 2012, serving for over a decade where she led bipartisan investments in mental health and sexual violence prevention.

The state’s second Congressional district spans from Concord toward the western half of the state, from Massachusetts to Candian border. 

Following Kuster’s announcement, Van Ostern relaunched his political Twitter account to congratulate the congresswoman, which had been dormant since 2020. 

While Van Ostern is the first candidate to announce, a long list of Democrats is speculated to challenge him in the primary including Former Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky. 

Kuster will make an endorsement in the race, she said. 

“First of all I want to make sure that we have a candidate that can win my seat and I feel confident about that,” she said. “I’ll let them make their own announcement, but I feel very, very good about us keeping the seat.”