New Hampshire is one election away from becoming Massachusetts — from becoming we are not, Ms. Ayotte stated in her campaign kickoff, explaining why she is seeking the governorship. After Republican Charlie Baker stepped down as governor of Massachusetts, Democratic challenger Maura Healey won the election and took office. In their respective states, both Mr. Baker and Mr. Sununu have widespread support among moderate Republicans.
Ms. Ayotte, a former New Hampshire attorney general, lost her Senate seat in 2016 to Maggie Hassan, a Democrat who had previously served as the state’s governor and was widely seen as a moderate.
Ms. Ayotte’s run for governor coincides with a resurgence of interest in the state from Republican presidential candidates. Many of these candidates have made multiple trips to New Hampshire in recent months to meet with voters ahead of the early G.O.P. primary.
After Mr. Sununu said he would not run again, Ms. Ayotte is likely to get strong support from other Republicans in the state. The race was recently downgraded from solid-Republican to tossup by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Almost immediately after Mr. Sununu’s declaration, Chuck Morse, the former president of the New Hampshire state senate who ran against Ms. Hassan last year and lost the G.O.P. Senate primary, joined the race.
Before Mr. Sununu’s announcement, two New Hampshire Democrats, Cinde Warmington (a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council) and Joyce Craig (the mayor of Manchester), declared their candidatures.
Despite Republican gains at the federal level in 2016, Ms. Ayotte’s re-election campaign was fierce. She was only in the Senate for a single term.
Despite the fact that some current and former Republican state politicians are from New Hampshire, the state has supported Democrats in each of the previous five presidential elections.
At the same time as her declaration, Ms. Ayotte released a long list of endorsements from dozens of Republicans around the state who had rallied behind her candidature.
However, Democrats on a national level were quick to criticise the ex-senator and signal that they want to make abortion rights a prominent issue in the next election.
Ms. Ayotte said in a statement on Monday that she plans to combat crime by “standing up for our law enforcement officers” and that she would work to “protect and strengthen New Hampshire’s economic advantage.”