Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) will not seek re-election in 2018. This news comes as a bit of a surprise. Shea-Porter has been in and out of office in this swing R+2 congressional seat, which covers the eastern half of the state as well as Manchester, since 2006. This seat is a good contender for the single swingiest seat in the nation: Donald Trump won it in 2016 by a 48.2% to 46.6% margin and Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney here 50.2% to 48.6% in 2012. Shea-Porter was first elected in the Democrat wave of 2006 when she ousted Rep. Jeb Bradley (R) by a narrow 51% to 49% margin. She was re-elected 2008 but lost re-election in 2010 to Frank Guinta (R). Shea-Porter then ousted Guinta in 2012 who then ousted her in 2014 before Shea-Porter re-claimed the seat back from Guinta in 2016 by very narrow 44% to 43% margin (with 3 independent candidates splitting the rest).
On the Republican side, two candidates are already running, Cop Eddie Edwards (R) and state Sen. Andy Sanborn (R). Two days ago former New Hampshire Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen (R) announced that he would not challenge Shea-Porter. He may reconsider now that she is not running. Other possible contenders from this seat’s deep GOP bench could include 2010/16 candidate Rich Asooh (R), State Sen. and 2014 candidate Dan Innis (R), Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas (R), ex-Rep. and State Sen. Jeb Bradley (R), and Ambassador to New Zealand and ex-MA Sen. Scott Brown (R). Ex-Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) lives one town outside the seat but could make theoretically make a comeback here as well.
For Democrats, their top recruit would probably be executive councilor Chris Pappas (D), who has held down a relatively conservaitve seat coveirng a fifth of the state surprisingly easily. Other possibilities could include Portsmouth Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand (D), 2016 gubernatorial candidate Mark Connolly (D), State Sens. Donna Soucy (D), Martha Fuller-Clark (D), and Kevin Cavanaugh (D), and ex-State Sen. Jackie Cilley (D).
Progressive Shawn O’Connor is currently running again as an independent. In 2016 Shea-Porter boxed him out of the Democrat primary leading him to run and garner 9.5% of the vote as an independent. Without Shea-Porter running O’Connor could switchback and run in the Democrat primary (but it is our sincere hope that he will not sellout and continue to run a strong independent progressive 3rd party campaign).