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September 24, 2011

Seacoast's former senator weighing bid for governor

Hassan would be considered top Democratic contender to head NH

A woman well known to Seabrook and South Hampton residents may soon toss her hat into New Hampshire's political ring to run for governor.

Margaret "Maggie" Wood Hassan, a lawyer and former state senator representing both Seabrook and South Hampton, said she is considering a run for the state's highest office.

The 53-year-old Democrat who lives in Exeter formerly represented the 10 communities of New Hampshire's Senate District 23 for three terms. She was unseated last year by Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, when Republicans were swept into office by voters.

But soon after popular four-term Democratic Gov. John Lynch announced late this summer that he would not seek a fifth term, Hassan's name rose to the top of the list compiled by the state's political pundits, who consider her one of the strongest Democratic contenders in the race for the corner office, should she choose to run in 2012.

"I've been traveling around the state discussing the political situation and getting feedback from New Hampshire citizens as I consider possibly running for governor," Hassan said in a recent interview. "I'm trying to think through what it would take to run for governor. I think it's still a bit early to decide, and my response when asked has been that I'll be making a decision in the near future."

Without an incumbent in the race, there will be no shortage of candidates from both major parties vying to replace Lynch.

Manchester Republican Ovide Lamontagne has already announced that he's in the race. An attorney, Lamontagne has made unsuccessful bids for both governor and U.S. senator in the past.

Since losing her Senate seat in November, Hassan said she's had more free time and has spent it involved "informally" in politics and with her family. She is married to Thomas Hassan, the principal of Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., and is the mother of a son and daughter, ages 23 and 18.

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