Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) announced her surprise retirement on Friday, opening up one of the nation’s most hotly contested swing districts and creating a possible headache for national Democrats.
“The time has come in my life to pause and decide on a different path,” she said in a statement.
Shea-Porter, a liberal community activist, had been in the middle of some of the toughest House races of the last decade. She first won her seat in 2006, campaigning stridently against the Iraq War, beat former Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH) in a 2008 rematch, lost it to Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) in 2010, beat him in 2012, lost to him in 2014 and defeated him again in 2016 after Guinta struggled with corruption charges.
She’d never been a favorite of national Democrats due to her unrepentantly liberal views in the centrist district, but her fervent base support had helped keep her in the race and eventually won over some internal party critics.
She won the district last fall even though President Trump narrowly won it by 48 percent to 47 percent after President Obama carried it twice.
Her retirement is likely to create a scramble in New Hampshire politics, with a number of local politicians who may be interested in the seat.
Democrats are already talking up New Hampshire Executive Council member Chris Pappas (D) as a strong possible candidate, though he’s likely to face a primary.
On the GOP side, New Hampshire state Sen. Andy Sanborn (R) is squaring off against former local police chief Eddie Edwards (R) in the primary.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee insisted that there “is no doubt that Democrats will hold this seat” in a statement thanking Shea-Porter for her service, while the National Republican Congressional Committee said they “are confident we will turn this district red once again.”