CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Former New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte on Monday announced she’s running for governor, days after fellow Republican Chris Sununu said he’s not seeking reelection to a fifth term in 2024.
“Gov. Sununu did a great job, but there’s going to be a vacuum there,” Ayotte said on “Fox & Friends.”
“We are one election away from becoming Massachusetts in New Hampshire, and I’m not going to let that happen,” she said. “We have something very special in New Hampshire — no income (tax), no sales tax, education freedom is so important in our state. So I’m running for governor to make sure that New Hampshire remains safe, prosperous and free.”
Ayotte, who was New Hampshire’s attorney general when she was elected to the Senate in 2010, was defeated in November 2016 by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in a close race.
Ayotte is the second Republican candidate to announce. Chuck Morse, former Republican president of the New Hampshire Senate and a former U.S. Senate candidate, announced his campaign for governor shortly after Sununu announced his decision in an email to supporters on Wednesday.
Two Democrats have already announced their campaigns, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington.
During her Senate farewell speech in December 2016, Ayotte spoke about issues of importance to her, including improving services for veterans and dealing with the “devastating epidemic” of heroin and prescription opioid abuse.
“I’ve met so many people in New Hampshire who are hurting because of this epidemic,” she had said. “Many of the families who have been affected have become my dear friends.”
On Monday, she said her No. 1 priority is making sure New Hampshire is safe, “and that means getting those fentanyl dealers — we need tougher penalties to get them off our streets. ”