NEWS & Insights

Rep. Annie Kuster to Retire

Another House retirement announcement came to the forefront yesterday, one that was never even a subject of speculation.

Six-term New Hampshire US Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton) stated that she will not seek re-election next year. Her departure paves the way for a competitive primary and general election season. Time exists for large fields in both parties to build, but the surprise nature of Rep. Kuster’s announcement suggests a few weeks will elapse before forming Democratic and Republican candidate fields will stabilize.

Plenty of time exists for political moves since the New Hampshire filing deadline is not until June 14th in conjunction with the late September 10th congressional primary.

Ms. Kuster averaged 53.3% of the vote in her six victorious elections, dropping below 50% in 2016 (49.8%) while scoring her strongest vote of 55.8% in 2022. She was first elected in 2012, defeating then-Rep. Charlie Bass (R) in that year’s general election.

The Dave’s Redistricting App statisticians calculate a 50.8R – 46.3D partisan lean even though the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the western New Hampshire seat as D+2. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks NH-2 as the 21st most vulnerable district in the Democratic Conference. President Biden, however, recorded a 54-45% victory over Donald Trump in 2020, thus exceeding the typical Democratic performance in this swing seat.

New Hampshire’s 2nd District houses half of the state’s population. The domain stretches from the Canadian border and the northernmost Coos County all the way to Massachusetts, covering the state’s northern and western sectors. The 2nd is home to New Hampshire’s second largest city, Nashua, and the state capital of Concord. The population is 88% white, 3.5% Hispanic, 3.0% Asian, 1.8% black, and 1.8% Native American.

NH-2 becomes the 49th open seat heading into the next election. Ms. Kuster is the 25th House Democrat not to seek another term, and the 23rd member to retire from politics.

A total of 13 departing House members are running for the Senate. One, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) ran for President, while two more are running for Governor, two for State Attorney General, one for local office, while one, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), is seeking re-election in a different district. A total of seven members, including two whose seats have been filled in special elections, resigned from Congress, and one more was expelled. Additionally, a new open seat was created in Alabama as a result of court ordered redistricting.

Despite the large number of open seats, very few are competitive for the general election. Virtually all have strong competition, usually within large candidate fields, in their respective primaries, but it appears at the outset of the general election that only six open districts will host major intra-party competition for the November election.

In addition to the impending political battle in Ms. Kuster’s open seat, California’s 47th District, now officially a race between Republican Scott Baugh and Democratic state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine), will result in a tight finish to replace Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) who ran unsuccessfully for Senate.

Maryland Rep. David Trone’s (D-Potomac) open district should be competitive in the general election especially if a more moderate candidate comes through the Republican Party. The apparent two top contenders look to be from the far right, and if one wins the nomination, the eventual Democratic nominee will become at least a slight favorite.

A pair of adjacent Michigan open districts will be hotly contested. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) running for the Senate leaves a toss-up open campaign in her wake, as does neighboring retiring incumbent Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township). Both Wolverine State seats should remain in play all the way through election day.

In Virginia, three-term Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) is not seeking re-election to prepare for an open 2025 Governor’s race. Her open 7th District, a seat the 538 organization rates as D+2 and where both President Biden and Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin recorded tight victories, will also be hotly contested in an open general election.

We offer this political insights report for your information and not as a predictor or representative of opinions of HBS or its employees.