Former Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire launches Republican bid for governor

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Former Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte says she’s running for governor of New Hampshire to protect “our way of life, free or die.”

The former attorney general, who later represented New England’s top battlefield state in the U.S. Senate for one term, officially launched a campaign for governor in 2024 on Monday, in the race to succeed GOP Governor Chris Sununu.

“Governor Sununu is an outstanding leader who has worked hard to defend our Live Free or Die values ​​and improve New Hampshire’s quality of life,” Ayotte wrote in a statement. “The battle to protect our Live Free or Die way of life must continue.”

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Ayotte also announced her offer to appear on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”

THIS POPULAR REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR HAS ANNOUNCED THAT HE WILL NOT BE RE-ELECTIVE

Former Senator Kelly Ayotte speaking at the 2017 annual conference of the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC. (Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The popular Sununu announced last week that he would not see an unprecedented fifth two-year term as governor in 2024.

“I’m running for governor because New Hampshire is one election away from becoming Massachusetts — from becoming something we’re not,” Ayotte wrote, aiming for the Granite State’s more progressive neighbor to the south.

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MEET THE REQUESTED GOVERNOR WITH THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

Republican Governor Chris Sununu sits for a Fox News Digital interview, at the Statehouse in Concord, New Hampshire, on June 26, 2023. (Paul Steinhauser/Fox News)

“I was born here and grew up here. I raised my children here, and you know what? I’m going to die here because this state and its people are different. What we have here is worth fighting for,” Ayotte stressed. “Together, we will ensure that New Hampshire remains safe, prosperous and free.”

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Ayotte made history as New Hampshire’s first and only woman to serve as Attorney General, from 2004 to 2009.

Former Senator Kelly Ayotte speaks at a campaign rally on September 22, 2020 in Gilford, New Hampshire. Ayotte announced she is running for governor on Monday, July 24, 2023, days after compatriot Chris Sununu said he is not seeking reelection for a fifth term in 2024. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

She won election to the U.S. Senate in 2010, but narrowly lost reelection to Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan in 2016 by a margin of just 1,017 votes.

Ayotte becomes the second Republican to launch a gubernatorial campaign. Former Senate President Chuck Morse declared his candidacy minutes after Sununu announced he would not be seeking re-election.

WHY CHRIS SUNUNU PASSED FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

“I think I’ll take what I did during the Senate presidency and bring it to the job of the governor,” Morse told Fox News last week when he pointed to the conservative agenda he and Sununu have helped pass over the past seven years.

Former Senate President Chuck Morse is being interviewed by Fox News Digital hours after he launched a 2024 Republican gubernatorial campaign in Hudson, New Hampshire, on July 19, 2023. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

Frank Edelblut, the Sununu education commissioner who nearly defeated Sununu in the 2016 gubernatorial primary, is seriously considering a gubernatorial run.

Two Democrats have already launched campaigns for governor: Cinde Warmington, the only Democrat on New Hampshire’s five-member executive council, and three-time Manchester mayor Joyce Craig.

While announcing her campaign, Ayotte revealed an extensive list of endorsements from various wings of the GOP, including former Senator and Governor Judd Gregg, New Hampshire House Majority Leader Jason Osborne and Bruce Breton, a co-chair of former President Trump’s 2024 White House campaign in New Hampshire.

Ayotte had a strained relationship with Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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In October of that year, after lewd sexual comments Trump made in a decade-old video went viral, Ayotte said that as a mother and former prosecutor who had worked with victims, she could no longer vote for Trump in the general election, and instead wrote in Mike Pence’s name.

But in 2017, she helped Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee — now Justice Neil Gorsuch — through his confirmation process on Capitol Hill, serving as a so-called “sherpa.”

Paul Steinhauser is a political reporter from New Hampshire.

Former Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire launches Republican bid for governor

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