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Mayor Joyce Craig at her office in Manchester, N.H., in 2018.
Mayor Joyce Craig at her office in Manchester, N.H., in 2018.Don Emmert / AFP via Getty Images file

Democratic Manchester mayor launches run for New Hampshire governor

Joyce Craig, who leads the state's largest city, is joining the Democratic primary for four-term GOP Gov. Chris Sununu's office.


Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig announced Tuesday that she is running for governor in New Hampshire, shaking up the race in a top Democratic pickup opportunity.

It’s not yet clear if Sununu, who passed on a 2024 presidential run, will run for a fifth two-year term term. Sununu recently told a radio show that he is “not really sure” if he is going to run again but was leaning against it, per the Boston Globe.

Craig, a Democrat, told NBC News in an interview shortly before her official launch that her campaign strategy would not change depending on Sununu's decision.

“This is about Granite Staters. That’s what I’m focusing on,” Craig said. “I’m running to make sure that every community, every hard working family has the opportunity to succeed. We need new leadership in the statehouse that understands the challenges that our local communities are facing.”

Craig will have to compete to win the Democratic nomination. Cinde Warmington, a member of the state’s Executive Council, is also running. Both Democrats currently represent larger chunks of New Hampshire than the state legislators Sununu has defeated in recent elections.

Craig said she will approach the primary by touting her work as mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire's largest city, which she has led since defeating a four-term GOP incumbent in 2017. She pointed to her work combating homelessness, investing in public education, ensuring access to good-paying jobs and protecting reproductive freedoms.  

The Supreme Court’s ruling last year that overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision affected Craig’s thinking about running for governor. She noted she has three children, including two daughters. 

“I’ll always support access to abortion,” Craig said. “I feel strongly that the government has no role in a decision that should remain between a woman, her family and her doctor. And I’ll fight to ensure it stays that way in New Hampshire.”

Craig said she does not support any government restrictions on abortion, citing her own experience with a miscarriage.

“Many families go through this, and I just feel strongly that this is something that governments should not be part of,” she said.

The gubernatorial race could be a top target for Democrats, especially if Sununu decides not to run. President Joe Biden won the Granite State by 7 percentage points in 2020, but Sununu won re-election in 2022 by nearly 16 points. 

As state Democrats prepare for this race, national Democrats have drawn criticism from them for proposing a new primary calendar that strips the Granite State of its first-in-the-nation primary status. 

While Craig urged Biden to compete in the New Hampshire primary, she said she was “not at all” concerned that the national party may be writing off New Hampshire, or that the new primary calendar could dampen organizing efforts. 

“I don’t think that that will have an impact,” Craig said. "People understand how important New Hampshire is and so we’re going to proceed.“