In the second recruiting coup for Senate Democrats in the past 24 hours, former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) issued a statement this morning saying she plans to run for the Senate in 2008.
Shaheen’s decision comes on the heels of former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner’s (D) announcement that he would run for the open Senate seat in the Old Dominion.
Shaheen, the current director of the Harvard Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government, will speak publicly about her plans at her home in Madbury on Sunday afternoon. But she left little doubt her intentions.
“I have stepped have down from my position at the Kennedy School of Government because we have major problems facing this country,” she said in the statement, “and there is an urgent need for real change in Washington. We have proven in New Hampshire that we can work together to get things done. I want to take that common sense approach to Washington and help this country move in the right direction.”
Shaheen’s decision puts first-term Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) in grave danger. Although he beat Shaheen by 5 points in 2002, that was a very good year for Republicans. New Hampshire Democrats enjoyed an unprecedented surge in last year’s elections, and several independent polls have shown Shaheen with a substantial lead over the incumbent.
Liberal interest groups already have been hammering Sununu for failing to break with President Bush on the Iraq War and other issues. Sununu does, however, have a substantial financial advantage over Shaheen at the outset, having banked more than $2.1 million as of June 30.
The biggest question for Shaheen is whether she’ll have to first withstand a Democratic primary before squaring off against Sununu. Three Democrats already are in the race, including Katrina Swett, wife of ex-Rep. Dick Swett (D-N.H.) and daughter of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). But some may end up deferring to Shaheen.
— Josh Kurtz