New Hampshire’s Kuster backs Buttigieg

Kuster is first from Granite State delegation to make an endorsement

New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster is backing Pete Buttigieg for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster is backing Pete Buttigieg for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 15, 2020 at 7:06pm

New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster backed former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for president Wednesday night, less than a month before the Democratic presidential primary in the Granite State.

“With our country so consumed by division, Pete Buttigieg is the leader who can finally turn the page on the Trump presidency and bring our nation together,” Kuster tweeted. “He has the courage to break from the past to lead us to a better future — I’m excited to endorse him to be our next president.”

Kuster, who represents the state’s solidly Democratic 2nd District, is the first member of the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation to make an endorsement ahead of the Feb. 11 first-in-the-nation primary.

Kuster, who will also serve as Buttigieg’s national campaign co-chairwoman, indicated late last year that she would endorse a candidate in the primary, noting she was an early supporter of former President Barack Obama in the 2008 primary when he faced Hillary Clinton.

“I’m going to vote. So I have no reason to be coy about who I’m going to vote for,” Kuster said at the time. “I want a candidate that can win.”

Kuster is Buttigieg’s second congressional endorsement this week and sixth overall. Retiring Rep. Dave Loebsack, who represents an Iowa district that President Donald Trump won in 2016, gave Buttigieg a potentially significant endorsement ahead of the state’s Feb. 3 caucuses. Buttigieg, who’s struggled to gain traction with African-American voters, touted his endorsement from Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, in Tuesday night’s debate.

Kuster’s district is the more liberal of the two New Hampshire House districts. Clinton carried her district by about 2 points, while Trump carried the 1st District, represented by freshman Rep. Chris Pappas, by less than 2 points.

Pappas told CQ Roll Call late last year that he was not likely to endorse in the presidential primary. Pappas said he was in contact with presidential candidates as they visited New Hampshire.

“Really, I want to be a good ambassador for our first-in-the-nation primary. That’s the most important thing for me,” Pappas said at the time. 

Pappas got his first higher-profile challenger this week in former Trump State Department official Matt Mowers, who is a former executive director of the New Hampshire GOP and once worked for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates his race Likely Democratic. 

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.