Key battleground state Dem announcement stuns political world: 'Big surprise'

Republicans currently hold a razor-thin 218-213 majority in the House of Representatives

CONCORD, N.H. – In a surprise announcement, longtime Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire says she won’t seek re-election to the House of Representatives this year.

"I always said I was not going to stay in Congress forever – I will not be seeking re-election in 2024," the six-term representative in the key general election battleground state said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Kuster, an attorney and lobbyist with clients in the health care and pharmaceutical industry before winning election to the House in 2012, highlighted that her tenure in Congress "has been many things – rewarding, frustrating, inspiring, and challenging. But, more than anything, it has been an honor."


Annie Kuster

Rep. Annie Kuster participates in the news conference in the Capitol on June 15, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

During her years on Capitol Hill, Kuster became known for working across the aisle on key issues, and for her openness in sharing personal experiences, including that she was a survivor of sexual assault during her youth. 

"We accomplished a lot. We laid out a path for a bipartisan approach. I’m very excited to turn that over to my colleagues, the younger generation, help them realize how they can be effective," Kuster emphasized in a Fox News Digital interview. "They don’t have to wait 20 years for seniority. They can really make a difference in six terms."

Kuster represents New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers the western half of the state from the border with Massachusetts north to the border with Canada. The state capital - Concord - and the state's second-largest city - Nashua - are represented by Kuster.

It’s possible several Democrats will step forward in the days and weeks ahead to try and succeed Kuster in a district that leans blue.

"I want to make sure that we have a candidate that can win my seat and I feel confident about that. I’ll let them make their own announcement, but I feel very, very good about us keeping the seat," Kuster told Fox News.

Rep. Annie Kuster announces she'll retire rather than seek re-election this year

Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire (NH-02) marches in an Independence Day parade, on July 4, 2022 in Amherst, N.H.  (Fox News - Paul Steinhauser)

Kuster, who leads the centrist and pro-business New Democrat Coalition in the House, said that "as I looked at the next eight months and started to think about my own re-election, I really want to put my energy into solidifying and making sure we win back the House."

Kuster emphasized that she'd be "traveling all around the country, raising resources, recruiting candidates, supporting my colleagues, to win 30 seats, not just the one."

Republicans aim to defend their razor-thin House majority in November's elections.

The GOP currently holds a 218-213 majority in the House of Representatives.

Kuster also highlighted that "the other piece of it, I’ve been on the phone this morning with the White House and the presidential campaign and hitting the trail for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, making sure we win back the White House."

Her announcement ignited surprised reactions across the political sphere and the media Wednesday morning on social media.

"Wow. I think Kuster might be the last member still in office who I helped get elected when I worked at the DCCC in 2012," Josh Schwerin, a longtime Democratic political operative, posted on X.

"Wow!" Michael LaRosa, a former spokesman for first lady Jill Biden, posted on X.

Hassan, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Kuster on the New Hampshire campaign trail

Sen. Maggie Hassan, left, and Rep. Annie Kuster, right, are joined by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota on Nov. 6, 2022, at a rally in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Fox News )

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., praised Kuster as a "friend of mine" and said she "has been a tremendous source of strength to me and countless others in the House Democratic Caucus family."

"She will be sorely missed in the next Congress. I wish her and her family the best in this new chapter," he added.

Kuster said in her statement "I will continue serving the people of New Hampshire until the end of my term in January 2025. In the months ahead, I will use my time to help Congress build on the progress we have made and finish the job for the American people."

And she told Fox News "I want to get out on the slopes of New Hampshire and live my life and being with children and one day grandchildren. I think I can do a lot for the country without being in elected office myself."

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