On the trail: Kuster not seeking re-election this year

Rep. Ann Kuster talks to members of the media following a campaign stop with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia in Concord on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

Rep. Ann Kuster talks to members of the media following a campaign stop with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia in Concord on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Elizabeth Frantz/Monitor staff, file

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster shows her button which says, ‘Make America Kind Again’ after voting at Hopkinton High School on Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster shows her button which says, ‘Make America Kind Again’ after voting at Hopkinton High School on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER

By PAUL STEINHAUSER

For the Monitor

Published: 03-27-2024 10:44 AM

Modified: 03-27-2024 4:50 PM


After six terms in Congress, Democrat Annie Kuster says she won’t seek re-election to the House of Representatives this year.

“I always said I wouldn’t be there forever and most of my colleagues don’t realize this,” the Hopkinton lawmaker Wednesday. “I’d be 70 in office. I want to get out on the slopes of New Hampshire and live my life and be with children and one day grandchildren. I think I can do a lot for the country without being in elected office myself.”

Kuster, an attorney and lobbyist with clients in the health care and pharmaceutical industry before winning election to the House in 2012, became known for working across the aisle on key issues, and for her openness in sharing personal experience, including that she was a survivor of sexual assault during her youth.

“This work has been many things — rewarding, frustrating, inspiring, and challenging,” she said. “But, more than anything, it has been an honor.”

She promised to bring a new approach to Washington and tried to tackle challenging issues, including mental health and addiction, as well as domestic and sexual violence.

“We accomplished a lot,” she said in an interview. “We laid out a path for a bipartisan approach. I’m very excited to turn that over to my colleagues, the younger generation, help them realize how they can be effective. They don’t have to wait 20 years for seniority. They can really make a difference in six terms. So that’s a very good feeling.”

Kuster cited her work with the centrist, pro-business caucus known as the New Democrat Coalition, as well her other bipartisan efforts in an increasingly divided Capitol Hill.

She founded the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, as well as the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence.

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Kuster represents New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District, which covers the western half of the state from the border with Massachusetts north to the border with Canada, and includes Concord and many surrounding communities.

It’s likely several Democrats will step forward in the days and weeks ahead to try and succeed Kuster in a district that leans blue. Former Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky has received calls and is considering running for the open seat, sources say.

Kuster hopes Democrats will take back the House.

“As I looked at the next eight months and started to think about my own re-election, I really want to put my energy into solidifying making sure we win back the House,” she said. “So once I know that my race is set, I’m going to continue the work that I’m doing, traveling all around the country, raising resources, recruiting candidates, supporting my colleagues, to win 30 seats, not just the one.”

Kuster may play a key role in the battle to succeed her.

“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.”

Kuster plans to hit the the trail for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

“I truly believe this is an existential moment in our country,” she said. “I believe that our democracy is threatened by Donald Trump and I want to do everything in my power to make sure that democracy and civility and stability prevail.”