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Feb 16, 2016 9:51 PM

Steinhauser-First on NH1 News: Gatsas likely to form an exploratory committee in coming weeks

NH1 News Political Director

MANCHESTER – Mayor Ted Gatsas says he’ll probably form “an exploratory committee” in the next couple of weeks, a major step forward as he moves closer to running for governor of New Hampshire.

The Manchester Republican made the news Tuesday afternoon in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News in his corner office on the third floor of City Hall. If Gatsas ends up running and winning, he’d become the first Queen City mayor to make it to the Corner Office at the State House in Concord in nearly 150 years.

Asked about his timetable for making a decision on launching a gubernatorial bid, Gatsas said “I can tell you that I’m heading off to vacation. I’ll be in Aruba for a week, talking with my wife. Coming back. Probably putting together an exploratory committee and then moving forward.”

As for the deciding factors in moving from an exploratory committee to a full-fledged campaign, Gatsas said he wants “to see how many people across the state, one, recognize my name, know who I am, and we’re able to get out there and touch them so that they understand that I have served as a senator, I’m a mayor now. And certainly I understand what has to happen in the state of New Hampshire.”

If Gatsas does launch a campaign for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, he’d join Executive Councilor Chris Sununu of Newfields, who announced his bid on Labor Day, and state Rep. Frank Edelblut of Wilton.

In the race for the Democratic nomination, Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern launched his gubernatorial campaign in October. Former New Hampshire deputy secretary of state and former director of securities regulation Mark Connolly is also running. Portsmouth City Councilor Stefany Shaheen, the daughter of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, is also mulling a bid.

The two term incumbent governor, Democrat Maggie Hassan, is running for U.S. Senate this year.

Gatsas, a lifelong Queen City resident, narrowly won re-election to a fourth term as mayor last November, topping Ward 1 Democratic Alderman Joyce Craig by just 64 votes.

Asked if running for governor means he’s ruling out a bid for a fifth term as mayor, Gatsas said “let’s just see how this election goes if I get in. If I don’t get in, chances are I will probably be running for mayor again.”

Gatsas served five terms a Ward 2 alderman, from 2000 to 2010. He also represented District 16 in the state Senate from 2000 to 2009, serving as state Senate president from 2005-2006. He was first elected Manchester mayor in 2009.

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