🔴 Joyce Craig created an exploratory committee to look at a possible run

🔴 The Democrat already said she will not seek re-election as mayor of Manchester

🔴 Republicans are waiting for Gov. Chris Sununu to decide about a 2024 run

A second Democrat has joined the race for New Hampshire governor as the Republican field remains uncertain awaiting a decision from incumbent Chris Sununu.

After establishing an exploratory committee earlier this year, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig announced Tuesday she will make a run for governor in 2024.

“I'm a fourth-generation resident of New Hampshire and I love this state. I'm running for governor to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed," Joyce told Seacoast Current. "We need a governor who will support and work with our local communities so that no matter where you live, you'll have access to strong public schools, affordable housing, good paying jobs, and reproductive freedom. And I will be that governor."

The only other announced Democrat for governor is Cinde Warmington, the lone Democratic member of the Executive Council.

Craig believes her experience as mayor of Manchester, creating jobs and new affordable housing since 2018, will help her as governor. The state's largest city has a lot in common with smaller communities, according to Craig.

"I've worked closely with our police department, and since I've been mayor, we've lowered violent crime by 38%. We are increasing community policing and investing in training. And we strengthened our public schools by decreasing class sizes and implementing curriculum and professional development for our educators," Craig said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joyce Craig
Manchester Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joyce Craig (Joyce Craig campaign)

The possibility exists that if Craig were to win the Democratic primary, she could go up against Sununu. The governor has indicated he is leaning against a 2024 run and will make a decision sometime during the summer, but believes he would win. Craig again cites her time as mayor as a plus to being a better governor.

"In Manchester, we have turned to our federal delegation, and then national partners who have been working with us to implement evidence-based solutions. And we need a governor in the state who will do the same thing and work with our local communities to address these statewide issues."

Manchester also comes with its own baggage as a high-crime city, but that doesn't bother the mayor. Craig will likely face questions about crime, drugs, and homelessness in Manchester, according to SNHU Civic Scholar and founder of NH Political Capital Dean Spiliotes, but so far is undeterred by the Queen City's reputation.

"I'm proud of all that we've accomplished in Manchester since I've been mayor. Working with our community, we've been able to get our city back on track since I became mayor in 2017. And we've delivered real results for our residents," Craig said.

Spiliotes expects a very competitive primary between Craig and Warmington.

"Warmington will like run on her attempts to push back against Republicans on the 4-1 Executive Council, especially on women's reproductive rights," Spiliotes said.

Craig has received endorsements from the New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council.

The Republican Governor's Association took a swipe at both Craig and Warmington in a tweet Tuesday.

"Between Joyce Craig and Cinde Warmington, it’s hard to tell who is more out of touch with New Hampshire values. From more crime to higher taxes — their extreme agendas have been a disaster for Granite Staters. Looks like this race will be a competition for who is the most extreme liberal," the RGA wrote.

No Republicans have yet declared they'll run for governor.

"Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Education Commissioner Frank Edelbut, and possibly state Sen. Chuck Morse, are all in a holding pattern until Gov. Sununu makes a decision," Spiliotes said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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