Former Biden administration official plans to jump into New Hampshire House race

Democrat Maggie Goodlander, a former senior official in the Biden White House and Justice Department, is on the verge of launching a primary campaign against the hand-picked, would-be successor to Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., according to three sources familiar with her planning.

The move, which could come as early as this week, promises to bring national and international politics to the heart of a House race in New Hampshire, at a time when President Joe Biden is trying to keep the state’s four electoral votes in his column.

Scott Merrick, an adviser to Goodlander, declined to confirm or deny that she will run — but said a decision is coming soon. Kuster announced earlier this year that she was retiring.

“Maggie is thankful for the encouragement she’s received from Granite Staters and will be making a decision in the coming days,” Merrick said.

Goodlander worked on domestic issues in the federal government — on antitrust at the Department of Justice and on Biden’s “unity agenda” at the White House — and she was also a Navy intelligence officer and an aide to two senators known for their focus on foreign policy. But she also has a connection into the current policy debate over the Biden administration’s positioning on hot-button issues such as the wars in Ukraine and Gaza through her marriage to national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who gives Biden counsel on those matters.

But Goodlander’s path to Congress won’t come without obstacles, starting with her Democratic primary opponent, Colin Van Ostern. The former member of the state executive council has already been endorsed by Kuster and dozens of current and former local officials.

Van Ostern’s campaign declined to comment for this story.

While Goodlander’s resume in the Biden administration is formidable, she also previously worked as a senior advisor to the late Sens. John McCain, a Republican, and Joe Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent.

Though her multi-partisan resume might help in a likely competitive general election for the district, it could hurt her in the Democratic primary.

Plus, operatives in the state have raised questions about how long its been since Goodlander actually lived and voted in the district. After leaving her White House job last month, she now lives in Nashua.

Kuster has held her seat for over ten years, but it’s still rated by the non-partisan Cook Political Report with Amy Walter as competitive, though “Likely Democratic.”

On the Republican side, several candidates are vying for the GOP nomination in the congressional race, including entrepreneur Vikram Mansharamani, who was the GOP’s nominee for Senate in 2022.

And though the state at large is usually considered solidly blue, New Hampshire’s independent streak puts it on the fringes of the presidential battleground as well. In 2020, Biden won the state by just over seven percentage points.

Biden visited the Granite State in March, after shunning the state’s first-in-the-nation primary, while former President Donald Trump visited the state multiple times ahead of the GOP presidential primary there.

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