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Bradley Won’t Run Against Shaheen in ’14

Etna’s Rubens Among Candidates Interested in U.S. Senate Seat

Concord — Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley Tuesday said he won’t seek higher office in 2014, ruling out a run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“Over the past few months, I have talked to family and friends about a potential run for the U.S. Senate seat. I have been gratified and encouraged by the support I have received,” Bradley said in a statement. “However, at this time, I cannot give the kind of attention and focus that a campaign for the U.S. Senate or any other statewide or congressional district office would necessitate. Two members of my family have recently become seriously ill and my focus must be on them.”

The Wolfeboro Republican’s decision leaves just two candidates who have announced they’re exploring a challenge to Shaheen: former state senator Jim Rubens, of Etna, and conservative activist Karen Testerman, of Franklin. Perennial candidate Andy Martin also has filed paperwork for a run.

“With each passing day, Rubens’s candidacy seems more plausible, and the same could be said of Testerman — perhaps to a lesser extent, Rubens seems to be a little further along than Testerman at this point,” said Dante Scala, associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire. “In the absence of someone who’s held a significant office before, in the absence of someone with significant name identification, it’s truly a wide-open race.”

Bradley, a former two-term U.S. congressman, had been considering a campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2014 against Shaheen.

In early August, when U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York visited New Hampshire and asked Bradley whether he was running for the Senate, he replied, “All the rumors are true.” The Associated Press reported the remark, but Bradley later said he had been joking and hadn’t made a decision.

Recent speculation also centered on Bradley possibly running for governor against first-term Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

But Bradley said yesterday that two relatives have become seriously ill in recent weeks. He said he needs to focus on his family and can’t devote attention to a run for statewide office.

Bradley said he will remain in the state Senate and assist new President Chuck Morse, the Salem Republican elected to that post yesterday to replace Sen. Peter Bragdon of Milford.

Bradley said it was “premature” to say whether he’d run for re-election next fall.

“While we are disappointed that Jeb won’t seek higher office, we understand that family issues take precedence over political considerations,” said Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, in a statement.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party’s reaction to Bradley’s announcement was similarly subdued.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to ... Bradley and his family during this difficult time of two serious health crises within his family,” wrote Chairman Ray Buckley in a tweet.

Shaheen, a former three-term governor, appears in strong shape as she gears up to seek a second term in the U.S. Senate.

A UNH Survey Center poll this summer found 50 percent of adult residents saying she deserves re-election, versus 34 percent who wanted someone else; the poll, taken July 18-29, had a 4.3 percent margin of error.

And she had nearly $2.2 million in her campaign bank account as of June 30, according to her last filing with the Federal Election Commission.

“Sen. Shaheen’s running out of names to raise money off of at this point,” Scala said.