Here are NH elections to watch in 2024 as governor, Senate, House, council fields are set

CONCORD — The 2024 New Hampshire primary election for state government positions is headlined by the competition for governor. But with major openings in the New Hampshire Senate and shakeups happening across the Legislature, the close of the election filing period brings many races to watch.

The race to succeed four-term Republican Gov. Chris Sununu features two Democrats (Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington and former Manchester mayor Joyce Craig) and two Republicans (former state Senate President Chuck Morse and former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte).

Joyce Craig, left, former mayor of Manchester, and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington are the leading Democratic candidates for governor of New Hampshire in 2024.
Joyce Craig, left, former mayor of Manchester, and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington are the leading Democratic candidates for governor of New Hampshire in 2024.

Jon Kiper is also running in the Democratic primary. Other Republicans who have filed for the governor’s race are Shaun Fife, Richard A. McMenamon II, Frank Negus Staples, and Robert Wayne McClory.

Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and former New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse are facing off in the 2024 Republican gubernatorial primary
Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and former New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse are facing off in the 2024 Republican gubernatorial primary

The state primary is Sept. 10 and the general election Nov. 5.

More: Craig and Warmington seek Democratic nomination for governor. What voters need to know.

More: Ayotte and Morse seek Republican nomination for NH governor: What voters need to know

Who will fill NH Senate President Jeb Bradley’s seat?

A few Senate seats are open after Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, and Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, announced their retirements this year.

Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, and Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, chat before a press conference where D'Allesandro announces his retirement. Bradley announced his a couple weeks before.
Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, and Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, chat before a press conference where D'Allesandro announces his retirement. Bradley announced his a couple weeks before.

For Bradley’s District 3 seat, Rep. Mark McConkey, R-Freedom, announced his candidacy for Bradley’s District 3 seat soon after Bradley’s retirement announcement.

“Jeb is an absolute legend in the New Hampshire State House,” said McConkey in a press release. “He stood by his principles, while standing up for those he represented. These are the traits that I believe made him a great public servant, and the traits that I will continue to bring to the Senate."

Former state Rep. Bill Marsh is running as a Democrat. He was a Republican when first elected as state representative for Carroll District 8 in 2016, and said that New Hampshire needs someone to carry on the “tradition” of working “with both sides to solve real problems."

Marsh and McConkey are the only people who filed in their respective primaries.

In District 20, Manchester School Board Ward 2 member Sean Parr and Rep. Pat Long, D-Manchester, are both running in the Democratic primary to replace D’Allesandro. Brittany Ping, who has run unsuccessfully for state representative and Manchester School Board, filed on the GOP side.

Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton, who represents District 15, is not running for reelection in 2024 after dropping out of the race for New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District. Rep. Angela Brennan, D-Bow, Rep. Rebecca McWilliams, D-Concord, and Merrimack County District 1 Commissioner Tara Reardon will be competing to succeed her in the Democratic primary. On the Republican side, Pamela Ean, who ran for and lost the election for representative for Merrimack District 10 in 2020, has filed.

Sen. Carrie Gendreau, R-Littleton, is facing a primary challenge in District 1 by pharmacist Rep. David Rochefort, R-Littleton. Rusty Talbot is running in the Democratic primary.

"I know firsthand that the needs of Senate District 1 transcend the typical Concord partisan politics,” Rochefort said in a statement on June 3. “In the North Country, we don’t focus on political tags or partisanship, we focus on getting the job done and fighting for neighbors.”

NH Senate races in Seacoast districts

Sen. Bill Gannon. R-Sandown, of District 23, is facing a primary challenge from state Rep. Emily Phillips, R-Fremont, who stated she wants to bring “more transparency” to the Senate.

“For too long the state Senate has ignored the will of the voters, pandered to lobbyists, and been the body in which good bills go to die,” Phillips wrote in a May post on X. “That needs to change, and I am in this race to make sure that happens.”

Some of her priorities include Second Amendment rights, parental rights, the Education Freedom Accounts program in New Hampshire, and “health freedom,” such as opposing mask and vaccine mandates.

Republican New Hampshire state Sen. Bill Gannon.
Republican New Hampshire state Sen. Bill Gannon.

After filing Friday, Gannon said he’s “looking forward to continuing to deliver conservative results for Granite Staters” in a post on X.

No Democrats are yet in the race for District 23.

Neither Sen. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham, in District 24, nor Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, in District 4, face primary challengers. But former Republican state representatives have filed in both districts: Patrick Abrami will face Altschiller in November and Shawn Mickelonis will challenge Watters.

Sen. James Gray, R-Rochester, and Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, D-Portsmouth, currently face no competition from either Democrats or Republicans.

What to watch in the Executive Council race

Republicans hold a 4-1 advantage on the council, which has approval power on state contracts. Democrats in 2024 are sure to emphasize funding for low-income women's health care, as Republicans on the council have repeatedly rejected it, citing concerns the money will be used for abortion by clinics such as Planned Parenthood and the Lovering Health Center, even though Republican Gov. Chris Sununu and the attorney general have assured them that's not true.

Janet Stevens, R-Rye, has represented several Seacoast communities on the Executive Council in the District 3 seat since 2020. This year, former state Sen. Jon Morgan is running in the Democratic primary.

More: Jon Morgan to challenge for Janet Stevens' NH Executive Council seat

With current District 2 Executive Councilor Warmington running for governor, her seat is now open. Lebanon City Councilor Karen Liot Hill is running against Michael Liberty in the Democratic race, while Kim Strathdee, who lost the Republican primary for this seat in 2022, and Concord woman Mary Rose Deak will be facing each other in the Republican primary.

Ted Gatsas, a Republican who has represented District 4 since 2018 after serving as a state senator and Manchester mayor, is retiring this year. A large group of Republicans have lined up to replace him, including 2022 2nd Congressional District nominee Robert Burns, former state Sen. John Reagan, Manchester Ward 7 Alderman Ross W. Terrio, former state health commissioner John Stephens, District 5 State Board of Education Member Ryan Terrell, and anti-vaccine activist Terese Bastarache. Manchester School Board Vice Chair Jim O’Connell is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Emmett Soldati, a Democrat and the owner of Teatotaller Cafe in Concord and Dover, has filed to run against incumbent Republican District 1 Executive Councilor Joseph Kenney. Soldati has run unsuccessfully for a few positions before, including District 2 Executive Councilor and state Democratic Party chair. There is no challenger in the primary.

Emmett Soldati
Emmett Soldati

Melanie Levesque is running against Shoshanna Kelly in the Democratic primary for District 5. She will face incumbent Dave Wheeler, who is expected to win in the Republican-leaning district.

400 House of Representative seats: what to look for

At the end of the House session on Thursday, Rep Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, got up to speak about Rep. Steve Shurtleff, D-Penacook, a former Speaker of the House who has served since 2004. Shurtleff is retiring this year, and no one has yet filed to replace him.

“I look around and I realize that about one-third of us who are in the room will not be back next term. That’s the usual turnover,” said Smith. She had just signed up to run for her 14th term.

On the Seacoast, UNH Law School professor and Portsmouth Police Commission member Buzz Scherr and Carrie Sorensen, both Democrats, are running in the primary to replace the retiring Rep. Joan Hamblet, D-Portsmouth, and Rep. Rebecca McBeath, D-Portsmouth, respectively. No Republicans have yet filed to run in the primary for those seats.

Buzz Scherr
Buzz Scherr

Rep. David Meuse, D-Portsmouth, said other races to watch will be Rockingham District 29, representing Hampton, where Erica de Vries will be trying to run again after losing in the general election for District 40 in 2022. Three other Democrats (Rep. Chris Muns, D-Hampton, Rep. Mike Edgar, D-Hampton, and Alan Scott Blair) and four Republicans (George R. Attar, Nicholas D. Bridle, Bruce Theriault, and Ken Sheffert) have filed to run for those four seats.

Rep. Erik Johnson, D-Lee, and Rep. Jennifer Mandelbaum, D-Portsmouth, both elected in special elections to the House in late January, are running again, seeking their first full terms. Brian Griset is running in the GOP primary for Johnson's district, while Mandelbaum is currently unopposed.

Meuse said in New Hampshire, it’s common for representatives to run unopposed. In some districts, no candidates file to run at all.

When this happens for any office, the New Hampshire Democratic and Republican parties may designate people to fill those positions, according to the secretary of state. Designated individuals must accept by June 19.

More candidates have filed for several offices as independents. They must get a certain amount of signatures from registered voters to officially get on the ballot.

The state primary will be on Sept. 10. Winners of the primaries will advance to the general election on Nov. 5.

Editor's note: State Sen. Debra Altschiller is the wife of Howard Altschiller, Seacoast Media Group's executive editor.

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: NH elections to watch in 2024 as state candidate filing ends