Locals file as candidates

Seacoast residents are running for prominent state and federal offices

Name recognition is likely to be a challenge for New Hampshire’s gubernatorial candidates. The race for governor has been overshadowed by the heavyweight battle for a U.S. Senate seat, and many voters may not be familiar with the gubernatorial hopefuls. That is, unless they live on the Seacoast.

Several area residents officially filed as candidates for governor and other prominent state offices today. The filing period closes on Friday, with state primaries scheduled for Sept. 13.

Incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat of Newfields, is not running for reelection, instead challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte in a highly publicized showdown.

Perhaps the most widely recognizable name among candidates for governor is Sununu — specifically, Republican Christopher Sununu of Newfields. Sununu is currently serving his third term on the N.H. Executive Council, representing District 3, which includes much of Rockingham County. The son of former governor John H. Sununu and brother of former U.S. senator John E. Sununu, he characterizes himself as a business leader who vows to fight taxes, pursue comprehensive education reform, and combat the state’s heroin crisis.

Sununu will face a few other candidates in the Republican primary, including Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who also filed today.

Chris Sununu of Newfields files to run for governor of New Hampshire.

Chris Sununu of Newfields files to run for governor.

On the Democratic side, former Portsmouth mayor Steve Marchand filed his paperwork this morning. Marchand served three terms on the Portsmouth City Council from 2003 to 2008 and was mayor for two of those terms. He has said his top priorities are improving local and regional infrastructure, reversing the opioid epidemic, and improving the education system.

Another local Democrat on the ballot is Mark Connolly of New Castle. He is the former deputy secretary of state and director of the N.H. Bureau of Securities Regulation, and current principal of New Castle Investment Advisors. Connolly has touted his experience in the public and private sectors as qualifications to execute his plan, which centers on education, innovation, and job creation.

Derek Dextraze of Dover also has filed to run for governor as a Democrat. The 33-year-old works as a temp at Dover-based educational assessment company Measured Progress. As governor, Dextraze says he would aim to combat the heroin crisis, increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, lower property taxes, and legalize marijuana, among other things.

The three local candidates will face a serious primary challenge from Colin Van Ostern of Concord, an executive councilor representing District 2.

With two executive councilors leaving their seats to run for governor, some locals are hoping to replace them. In District 2, Shawn Mickelonis of Rochester is one of several Democrats who have filed. In District 3, current state Sen. Russell Prescott of Kingston filed today to run in the Republican primary.

Russell Prescott of Kingston files to run for N.H. Executive Council.

Russell Prescott of Kingston files to run for N.H. Executive Council.

At least a couple of locals are running for federal offices as well. In addition to Hassan running for U.S. Senate, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter of Rochester is aiming to win back her former seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Shea-Porter is one of several candidates in both parties hoping to unseat First District incumbent Republican Frank Guinta of Manchester.

State Rep. Pam Tucker of Greenland and businessman Dan Innis of Portsmouth both had announced plans to challenge Guinta in the Republican primary, but have since suspended their campaigns.