Shea-Porter won't seek Senate seat Gregg giving up

CONCORD – Two-term Democratic congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter took herself out of the running for the U.S. Senate seat in 2010.

Shea-Porter issued a statement Monday making clear her preference for staying in the House in the 1st District seat that she’s held since the 2006 election.

“I thank the many people in New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., who have asked me to run, but I have decided that I do not want to run for the U.S. Senate,” Shea-Porter said in a statement.

“I love the House of Representatives and the work I am involved in there to help the people of New Hampshire.”

The announcement is welcome news for her fellow Democratic congressman Paul Hodes who already announced he will run for the seat that Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican, will vacate next year.

“I have the utmost admiration and respect for congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. I see her stand up and fight for New Hampshire every day, serving alongside her in the House of Representatives,” Hodes said in his statement.

Republican State Chairman John H. Sununu said Shea-Porter must have felt too much pressure to take on Hodes.

“I extend my condolences to Carol Shea-Porter,” Sununu said in a mocking statement.

“Although she is putting on a positive public face, I know that she must be very disappointed at having been forced out of a primary contest with Paul Hodes – especially since she probably would have beaten him.”

Some state Democratic leaders made no secret of wanting to avoid a competitive and contentious Senate primary that at the same time would have left open both House seats next year.

This decision, earlier than many had expected, could also help Hodes raise money for the Senate race with an important first quarter of 2009 to end in less than two weeks.

Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley praised Shea-Porter’s service in Washington.

“Carol Shea-Porter is the best to ever represent the 1st District in Congress,” he said. “Since her election back in 2006, no one has fought harder to protect working families, veterans and our children. She is an independent leader and has a long record of providing real results for her constituents.

“With so much at stake, the people of the 1st District can take comfort in knowing that Carol Shea-Porter is their congresswoman. I know she will continue to fight every day to better the lives of the people she serves.”

This shifts the attention to the 2nd District as a number of prominent Democrats and Republicans have said they would consider a bid to replace Hodes.

The Democrats include Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli, of Nashua; ex-state Sen. Mark Fernald, of Sharon; state Senate President Sylvia Larsen, of Concord; 2002 Democratic congressional nominee Katrina Swett, of Bow; activist Ann Kuster, of Hopkinton; and Lebanon Mayor Karen Liot-Hill.

Republicans eyeing the race include former talk show host, Telegraph columnist and 2008 nominee Jennifer Horn, of Nashua; ex-Senate President Tom Eaton, of Keene; 2002 candidate for governor Bruce Keough, of Dublin; and 2008 congressional candidate Grant Bosse, of Hillsborough.

Shea-Porter’s announcement came a few hours after former Republican congressman Jeb Bradley made official his run for an open seat in the state Senate.

Bradley lost to Shea-Porter in 2006 and 2008 elections.