New Hampshire Attorney General signals Senate run

Former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteThe Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Audit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years MORE (R) has filed the necessary paperwork to form an exploratory committee for Senate in 2010, she announced Monday.

Ayotte resigned her post on Friday and was widely expected to enter the race. She joins Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) in the contest for retiring Sen. Judd Gregg’s (R-N.H.) seat.

“This is the next step in the legal process as I explore my potential candidacy for the race in 2010,” Ayotte said in a statement. “In the weeks and months to come, I look forward to traveling the state and meeting with citizens to discuss the critical issues that are facing New Hampshire and America.”

Ayotte should be the Republican frontrunner in the race, but businessman Fred Tausch and former gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontagne have also shown interest on the GOP side.

The seat is expected to be among the most competitive in the country, with Ayotte and Hodes having polled a virtual tie in a recent survey.