Senate Democrats got the candidate they wanted in New Hampshire.
Gov. Maggie Hassan announced Monday she is challenging GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte for Senate in the Granite State, rather than seek a third term as governor. It's a move Democrats say gives the party its best shot at picking up a seat that will prove critical to Senate control.
The two-term governor had been mum on her plans as she sparred with the Republican-controlled state legislature over the budget — saying she needed to focus on the job she had rather than make plans for her political future. Republicans in the state were happy to keep Hassan's focus on the budget for as long as possible, preventing her from publicly deciding whether to run for re-election or challenge Ayotte for Senate.
But Hassan and the legislature came to a budget agreement, finally freeing Hassan to decide.
In recent months, a handful of polls found Hassan and Ayotte tied in a head-to-head match-up. And Democrats say Hassan will be a strong fundraiser with a proven history of winning statewide in New Hampshire.
But Ayotte starts the race with a significant cash on hand advantage and the power of incumbency, giving her a slight edge more than a year from Election Day.
In the Sept. 18 issue of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, Nathan Gonzales wrote that the rating of the race would change from Lean Republican to Tossup/Tilt Republican once Hassan got into the race.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report. Related: Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.