Colin Van Ostern announces bid for newly open NH congressional seat

Former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern is announcing a 100-member reproductive freedom coalition, bolstering his bona fides on one of the top issues going into November. (Photo courtesy)

By Colin Booth

March 28, 2024

Former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern announced his bid for the newly open congressional seat just one day after six-term incumbent Congresswoman Annie Kuster shocked party leaders with her announcement that she would not be seeking another term in office.

Van Ostern said in a statement and interviews announcing his candidacy he was committed to safeguarding reproductive rights through national legislation, a move that he suggests would counteract the current piecemeal state-level restrictions and uncertainties surrounding issues from IVF and birth control to abortion access.

“My stepmom ran a Planned Parenthood health center. She was executive director in Lexington, Kentucky for about 30 years. I have seen in my own family how issues like IVF, which are incredibly personal, and also it is just insane that extremists in Washington are trying to threaten them the same way that they have threatened birth control,” Van Ostern said in an interview ahead of his announcement.

His tenure on the Executive Council showcased his advocacy for reproductive rights, where he was instrumental in twice restoring funding for Planned Parenthood in the face of opposition, earning him the title of “Champion for Choice” from NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire and said he would make it a priority to address the rising costs burdening middle-class families, including those associated with housing, higher education, healthcare, and childcare.

RELATED: Who NH Democratic insiders are talking about for NH’s CD2 seat after Kuster’s surprise announcement

Van Ostern ran a campaign for Secretary of State in 2018 where he was narrowly defeated by Bill Gardner, who retired from the position in 2022.

The biggest lesson he learned from that that race? “You have to do what you believe is right even when very powerful people even in your own party, disagree with you.”

“I have a ton of respect for Bill Gardner. I think he’s an icon and literally a living historic figure in our state. But he was dead wrong when he enabled Trump’s election denial —  before the 2020 election, by the way — and a lot of people told me that it was crazy to take on a 42 year Democratic incumbent who had had basically universal support from the Democratic Party.” Van Ostern said.

Beyond his political work, Van Ostern has been active in the business community, holding executive positions at Stonyfield Yogurt, Alumni Ventures, and Southern New Hampshire University.

Many top Democratic leaders in the state were shocked by Congresswoman Kuster’s decision to not run for reelection, but not Van Ostern, who posted a statement on her leaving on twitter minutes after the decision was announced — his first post on the platform in nearly 2 years.

This announcement today suggests he was not caught off guard by the decision. Asked how he got the heads up, he demured, suggesting the quick rollout was a matter of need for the district.

“​​I think there’s no time to waste and was really happy to celebrate Annie’s work and her retirement announcement yesterday. And I’m also really excited to jump into this race and hit the ground running as fast as I can. I think it’s incumbent on all of us who care about our democracy to fight immediately and work very, very hard to win this seat.” Ostern said.

While Van Ostern is the first candidate to announce, he is likely not the last, as recent reporting we’ve done has yielded a short list of individuals party leaders are discussing as having strong potential to hold the very important seat for Democrats.


  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.



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