WASHINGTON -- Five months after narrowly losing the race for New Hampshire's second congressional seat, progressive favorite Ann McLane Kuster has announced that she's jumping back in for another run in 2012.
"When I see what is happening -- in Washington, in Concord, and across the country -- it is clear to me that this is no time to sit on the sidelines," Kuster wrote in an email to supporters. "To fight for good jobs, to protect the fragile economic recovery, and to invest in strengthening our country’s future, this week I am taking the first steps to begin a campaign for U.S. Congress in 2012."
Kuster lost the 2010 race to Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) by less than 4,000 votes in a fight that attracted considerable attention and involvement from activists on both sides of the aisle. Many had considered her primary victory as a big win for progressives, who fought against her opponent, the former presidential campaign co-chair for Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).
Democrats have high hopes for Kuster’s district in 2012. The district has gone for both John Kerry and Barack Obama in the past two presidential elections, and voters who come out for Obama next year may pull out more votes for Kuster. One Democratic insider said Democrats think Bass is vulnerable, pointing to the heat he has been taking on local issues.
"Ann Kuster's record of supporting higher taxes, bigger government and more debt was rejected in 2010 because it stands in sharp contrast to the New Hampshire values of fiscal discipline and limited government," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Tony Mazzola. "With a history of supporting a New Hampshire state income tax and Nancy Pelosi's government-takeover of health care, it's clear that Kuster is drastically out of touch with voters in the Granite State."
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) made Kuster’s election a top priority in 2010 and raised over $150,000 for the race. With the help of progressive grassroots organization Democracy for America (DFA), they made more than 157,000 volunteer phone calls to voters in her district.
"Annie Kuster is a bold progressive champ who will be at the forefront of fighting for a progressive economic and jobs agenda in 2012," PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor said in response to Tuesday's announcement. "For those who care about putting Main Street ahead of Wall Street and holding Republicans accountable for their war on middle-class families, Annie's entry into the race is a burst of great news."
The New Hampshire Union Leader reported on Tuesday that members of Kuster's political team -- including pollster Mark Mellman, media consultant Jason Ralston and direct mail guru Paul Ambrosino -- have all said they're on board for a 2012 run.
Kuster said she will be making a more formal announcement on a run next year. "I’m not willing to sit on the sidelines until then -- I’m going to roll up my sleeves and start working today," she wrote in the email.