John Lynch announced this morning that he will not seek re-election to a fifth term in office, leaving next year's governor's race wide open.
Lynch, 58, a Democrat from Hopkinton, made the announcement during an appearance this morning at Northwest Elementary School in Manchester.
He promised to continue to working hard for New Hampshire for the next 16 months.
"The journey is not over," he said. "There is much left to do."
This immediately turns what would have been a Dem-favored race into a tossup. While Lynch was never any progressive's idea of a great Democrat, over the last year, he's acted as a bulwark against the excesses of the extremist Republicans who recaptured the state legislature in 2010. If we can't hold the governor's mansion (or retake the lege), there's no limit to the damage the New Hampshire GOP might wreak.
Fortunately, several viable Democrats have been openly considering the race. The list includes:
• Mark Connolly (former state director of the Bureau of Securities Regulation, known for whistleblowing a mishandled ponzi scheme investigation)
• Maggie Hassan (former state Sen. majority leader)
• Steve Marchand (former Portsmouth mayor, and briefly a 2008 Senate candidate)
I wouldn't be surprised if other names emerged as well. And as you'd expect, a bunch of Republicans are also in the mix:
• Jeb Bradley (state Sen. majority leader and ex-U.S. Rep.)
• Ovide Lamontagne (1996 gubernatorial nominee, and loser of the 2010 GOP Senate primary)
• John Sununu (the younger Sununu, i.e. the one-term U.S. Senator)
• John Stephen (former state director of Health and Human Services, and losing 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee)
• Kevin Smith (former state rep. and director of conservative activist group Cornerstone Action)
An early July PPP poll featuring matchups between many of these candidates mostly showed Republicans with small leads, but that seemed to mostly stem from somewhat higher name recognition on the part of the GOP field. Regardless, this race will be one to watch.