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Former House Speaker O'Brien won't run for Congress

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 23. 2013 1:50PM


Former House Speaker William O'Brien announced Friday he wasn't going to run for Congress, leaving former Sen. Gary Lambert of Nashua as only other Republican to express and interest in challenging Rep. Annie Kuster next year.

O'Brien said he had planned to run for the GOP nomination, but he instead has accepted an offer from a German company to head its U.S. subsidiary in Cambridge, Mass.

"We were making preparations for an announcement, lining up endorsements," O'Brien said in an interview. "We were well on our way."

But saying "this job offer was too good to refuse," O'Brien said he accepted the position of chief operating officer of the American subsidiary of BrainLoop, a software company with 10 employees in Cambridge.

He said he will remain in Mont Vernon and keep his state representative post but hasn't decided whether to run for re-election in 2014. "Probably not," O'Brien said.

Political analyst Dante Scala said several things were working against O'Brien.

"The makeup of the district wasn't working in his favor and you can't raise money and people really have a negative impression of you," Scala said. "That's pretty much strikes one, two and three."

O'Brien raised less than $50,000 during the second quarter of fundraising during his exploratory effort.

"$42,000 is not a serious amount of money for running for Congress today," said Scala, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire.

The district leans slightly Democratic, Scala said, and a recent WMUR Granite State Poll showed voters viewed O'Brien more negatively than positively.

The poll, conducted last month, showed 22 percent of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of O'Brien, while 25 percent had an unfavorable view. Six percent were neutral and 47 percent didn't know.

That was an improvement from an April poll that showed 38 percent with an unfavorable view of O'Brien and 13 percent with a favorable opinion of him.

The same WMUR poll showed Kuster with a net-positive 2 percentage favorability rating. Also, only 26 percent of 2nd District residents surveyed thought Kuster should be re-elected, 39 percent preferred someone else and 35 percent didn't know or were unsure.

Through March, Kuster had raised $344,000 since her election in November 2012.

Lambert, the only other candidate who has expressed interest in running against Kuster, didn't immediately return a phone message.

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