Updated: Foley, Birdsell say they are running for state Senate seat being vacated by Rausch

(UPDATED MAY 13:)

DERRY – Derry Republican Committee Chairman Jim Foley announced Monday that he is a candidate for the District 19 state Senate seat that will be open with the announced retirement of Republican Sen. Jim Rausch, also of Derry.

“Although many of us had hoped that Senator Rausch would seek re-election this fall, he had indicated a few weeks ago that he was considering retirement,” Foley said. “ In conversations with community leaders and local activists, I have been surprised and honored by how many have urged me to run and have offered up their support, their time and their financial backing.”

Foley said that with Rauch’s announced retirement, “I will in the next few days be forming a candidate’s committee and it is my intention to formally announce my candidacy for State Senate District 19 in the very near future.”

(Earlier reports, from May 12, follow)

HAMPSTEAD — State Rep. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, confirmed to the NHJournal Monday afternoon she will run for  the District 19 state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Rausch (see full earlier story below).

In a statement obtained by the Journal, soon to be released generally, Birdsell, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and current chair of the Rockingham County Republican Committee, says:

“In the past two terms in the Legislature, and as the head of the Rockingham County Republican Committee, I have often been impressed by the work done by the State Senate.

“However, the will of the people in my district has not always been served by the body as a whole. District 19 is a fiscally conservative constituency that wants their elected officials to protect their wallets, advocate for transportation issues, and expand the tax base. That’s why I’m running for the New Hampshire Senate.”

She also said, “Derry, Hampstead, and Windham have been well-served in the state Senate, and I plan to continue that tradition. This district wants, and deserves, a senator with a voting record of consistent fiscal conservatism. A senator that knows how jobs are created and maintained. And a senator that will need no learning curve and can represent the district on Day 1.”

Birdsell was first elected to the New Hampshire House in 2010, was reelected in 2012, and serves on the Election Law Committee.

Derry Republican Chair Jim Foley has said he is running and state Rep. Frank Sapareto, who served in the District 19 state Senate seat in 2003-2004, has set up an exploratory committee but has not yet made a final decision whether to become a candidate, said a committee spokesman.

Birdsell has worked for Raytheon and says she later became a “high-tech recruiter,” working with companies including Applied Material and Teradyne.

She says that as a House member, she has backed “small business-friendly legislation, voted against all tax increases, and was an election reform advocate.”

(Our earlier report follows:)

DERRY – After two terms in the Senate and five prior terms in the House, Derry Republican Sen. Jim Rausch will not seek reelection this year, he confirmed Monday morning.

Rausch followed up an interview with the NHJournal with a formal announcement.

Rausch, 67, said the key reason for his decision is a personal one:  Rausch will become a grandfather for the first time in September. His daughter, of Jacksonville, Fla., will a baby due on Sept. 18.

Rausch, thrilled at becoming a grandfather, said it was a family decision and that he wanted to take the opportunity to “spend time and enjoy my first grandchild.”

He cited as his top accomplishments winning approval of a gas tax hike that he said will fund infrastructure needs of the state to continue to grow the economy.

He also cited his work on an education funding formula “that has brought some stability to the process” and his support for career and technical education at the high school level to give young people a start on their careers.

Rausch’s announcement follows announcements by state Sens. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, and Bob Odell, R-Lempster that they will not seek reelection.

Rausch’s open District 19 seat is in a heavily Republican district and is expected to set off a scramble among Republicans.

Republicans being mentioned as likely candidates are state Rep. Regina Birdsell of Hampstead, who chairs the Rockingham County Republican Committee; Derry Republican Chair Jim Foley and state Rep. Frank Sapareto, who held the Senate seat in the 2003-2004 term.

Rausch, in a statement, said he wants to “spend more time with my growing family.

“As Lorinda and I look forward to welcoming our first grandchild this fall, I’ve decided to step aside in order to ensure I can fully enjoy this special time and the years ahead with my family, and also so that the residents of District 19 can continue to have a voice in the Senate who will give this job the time, energy, and commitment it requires.

“Throughout my time in the legislature, my goal has been to try and solve problems in order to improve our state and the lives of my constituents.  I’ve been privileged to work with dedicated legislators of both parties to create a sustainable education funding formula, strengthen our Career & Technical Education program, and most recently to pass a transportation funding bill that will ensure our infrastructure network is both safe and conducive to economic growth.”

Rausch said it has been “a tremendous honor” to serve in the Senate.

Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement Raush’s legislative service “is a terrific example of New Hampshire’s strong tradition of citizen engagement, public service, and constructive problem-solving.

“I am honored to have worked with him on bipartisan solutions to boost our economy, including this year’s bill to strengthen our transportation infrastructure and complete the expansion of Interstate 93. Senator Rausch’s commitment to improving our infrastructure will be a lasting legacy, improving our economy and the lives of commuters for years to come. I join the people of New Hampshire in thanking him for his service.”

Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said Rausch’s service “provides a clear example of the kind of civic mindedness that makes New Hampshire great.”

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, cited Rausch’s work “to update and improve our state’s education funding formula and over the last four years he’s worked to balance our budget, reform our pension system, and encourage economic growth in his district and across the state.

 “During his 14 years in the House and Senate, Senator Rausch became a go-to source on transportation, infrastructure, and public works issues.  With this expertise, he led the way this session in passing an infrastructure improvement bill that will ensure the completion of the I-93 expansion, the largest public works project in the state’s history.”

Author: John DiStaso

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  • Keith

    All of the accomplishments he promoted are increases in the size of the New Hampshire government. Honorable Senator Jim Rausch, enjoy spending more time with your growing family.