Shaheen set to take on Sununu again

Former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenEpstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse House Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities Crucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research MORE (D) announced Friday that she will run for Sen. John Sununu’s (R) seat in 2008.

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“Jeanne Shaheen will be a great candidate and a great Senator,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE (D-N.Y.). “We are excited that someone who represents the best of New Hampshire and American values is our candidate for the Senate.”

Shaheen’s entry sets up a likely rematch from the 2002 race, in which Sununu, then a congressman, narrowly defeated the three-term governor.

Shaheen has been at the top of national Democrats’ wish list but has said little about the race for months. Leaving her post as head of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University made the decision particularly tough.

The Institute of Politics on Friday announced her resignation, effective at the end of the day.

In recent months, Shaheen has polled as many as 28 points ahead of Sununu. The state underwent a massive shift toward the Democratic Party in the 2006 elections, and Sununu appeared vulnerable regardless of whether she entered the race.

Former state Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan, the spark behind an online Draft Shaheen movement, said she sent a message to the former governor Friday morning thanking her for getting in.

Sullivan said she would continue to do whatever she can to help Shaheen win next November. As for the rest of the Democratic field, Sullivan said it would be "up to them" to decide whether to stay in the race or clear the field for Shaheen.

"Now that Gov. Shaheen is in, it certainly does make it a different race than it was yesterday," Sullivan said.

Astronaut Jay Buckey (D) said early Friday morning that he would stay in the race, and Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand (D) has recently backed off a pledge to defer to Shaheen.

Marchand and another Democratic candidate, Katrina Swett, are expected to issue statements today.

Shaheen’s entry gives Democrats a second big-name recruit in two days. Popular former Virginia Gov. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency at hearing MORE (D) entered that state’s 2008 Senate race on Thursday, and he appears to be the favorite to succeed retiring Sen. John Warner (R).

 “With Jeanne Shaheen and Mark Warner announcing their candidacies in the last two days, our efforts to increase our majority in the Senate got a tremendous shot in the arm,” Schumer said. 

Sam Youngman contributed to this report.