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Gov. John Lynch and Dr. Susan Lynch stand before the media, fourth grade students, friends, staff and department heads for his announcement that he would not seek re-election to a fifth term Thursday morning at Northwest Elementary School in Manchester. (BOB LaPREE/Union Leader)

Governor won't seek corner office again

MANCHESTER - Saying it's time for the next generation of leadership to take over in New Hampshire, Gov. John Lynch announced Thursday he would not seek reelection.

Surrounded by family, friends, staff, agency commissioners, Democratic political leaders and fourth-grade students at Northwest Elementary School, Lynch said that, while he isn't running again, he will continue to work hard for the next 16 months he holds office.

Lynch's announcement is expected to bring out a large field of both Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates and turn the political landscape upside down for both parties.

Lynch said Thursday that he continues to love his job and much remains to be done.

'For me, being governor of the State of New Hampshire is the best job in the world,' he said. 'Serving in this role is the highest privilege of my life.'

But he said 'democracy demands periodic change. To refresh and revive itself, democracy needs new leaders and new ideas.'

He touted his accomplishments, saying he reached across party lines to work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to do what's right for the state.

'We passed tough ethics laws. We made kindergarten available to every child and cut our high school drop-out rate by 60 percent,' Lynch said. 'We balanced the budget in hard years, while working to protect services for our most vulnerable people.'

He said while he was governor, the state built a model emergency response system that continues to keep New Hampshire the safest state in the nation.

He also touted his work to 'protect the civil liberties of all our people,' and 'we've worked to help our families and businesses through this recession.'

He said one of his favorite things to do as governor is to meet fourth-grade students who tour the State House.

'By talking to the students, I learn what is on their minds, and what is on the minds of their parents,' Lynch said. 'I hear from their perspective about what's going on in New Hampshire - and where our families may need our help.'

He said those talks are a reminder that the job of governor is make sure all New Hampshire people have the opportunities they deserve.

'But today is not the time for a looking back, because the job is not over,' Lynch said. 'There is still work to be done.'

Lynch said the remaining work includes reducing the state's dropout rate to zero, minimizing the impacts from the 2012-2013 state budget on people, and helping businesses grow and people find work.

'The journey is not over, my friends. There is still much to do, and we can't waste a moment,' he said.

After he finished his remarks, Lynch went around the room shaking hands and then he took off his coat and stood before the seated fourth graders and asked them what they liked most about being fourth graders.

Lynch became governor in 2005 after winning a close election against first-term Gov. Craig Benson.

Lynch twice won reelection by record margins, and he won comfortably last year against former Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen. However, Lynch was the only major Democratic office holder in New Hampshire to survive the Republican landslide in 2010, and this year he faced large Republican majorities in the House and Senate with enough votes to override any veto.

Republican candidates considering running for the gubernatorial nomination include Stephen, former U.S. Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne, State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and Cornerstone Action executive director Kevin Smith.

On the Democratic side, former State Sen. Maggie Hassan has organized an exploratory committee and has the backing of former Senate president and current Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen of Concord.

Other Democrats mentioned include former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, current Portsmouth Mayor Tom Ferrini, former director of the state Bureau of Securities Regulation Mark Connolly and former state Sen. Jacalyn Cilley.

Lynch made Thursday's announcement at Northwest Elementary School, a school his company adopted before he ran for governor.

Lynch lives in Hopkinton with his wife, Susan. They have three children: Jackie, Julia and Hayden.

Lynch did not say what he intends to do when he leaves office. In the past, he has said he has no interest in serving in Washington, D.C., as a lawmaker.

Lynch's press secretary Colin Manning said Lynch has no plans to run for higher office...