It’s been only two weeks since Sen. James Rausch, R-Derry, announced he wouldn’t seek re-election, but the race for his seat is starting to heat up.
The campaign signs are rolling out, and the support and donations are rolling in.
At least three Republican candidates are running in the state primary Sept. 9 to replace the popular District 19 senator, but no Democrats have expressed interest. The district is made up of Derry, Hampstead and Windham.
Regina Birdsell of Hampstead and Frank Sapareto of Derry are current members of the House of Representatives. James Foley of Derry is a longtime chairman of his town’s Republican Committee who has never served in elective office.
The candidates are holding campaign kickoffs and announcing their supporters — and the filing period hasn’t even begun. It opens Wednesday and closes June 13.
One of those campaign supporters is Rausch himself.
Rausch, retiring after 14 years in the Legislature, is backing Foley as his potential replacement for the two-year seat.
Rausch, 67, announced May 12 he was stepping down to spend more time with his family. His daughter, who lives in Florida, is expecting the family’s first grandchild this fall.
Birdsell and Foley said while they didn’t always agree with Rausch’s stances on issues, including his support for a gas tax increase, they want to follow in the popular senator’s footsteps.
They decided to run after learning Rausch wouldn’t seek another term.
He served five terms in the House before running for the Senate seat vacated in 2010 by Robert Letourneau of Derry, who is also endorsing Foley.
“Sen. Rausch was retiring and I thought it was the next step,” Birdsell, 58, said Thursday.
The four-year state representative said she’s a fiscal conservative and wants to get the state’s finances in order, especially after Gov. Maggie Hassan recently announced a spending freeze.