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  Democrats Mull Run Against Benson
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ContributorStephen Yellin 
Last EditedStephen Yellin  Feb 26, 2004 07:33pm
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CategorySpeculative
MediaNewspaper - Eagle Tribune
News DateThursday, February 26, 2004 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionBy Dan Tuohy
Staff Writer

CONCORD -- Gov. Shaheen -- the name has a familiar ring to it.

The state primary filing period is 90 days away, but Democrats and a few Republicans are combing their ranks for a candidate to take on first-term Republican Gov. Craig Benson.

The list includes some of New Hampshire's most powerful people, such as Bill Shaheen, who was dubbed the "First Hunk" by his wife, Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen from 1996 to 2002.

Shaheen said last week he is not interested in running for governor, but his name keeps cropping up when people talk about gubernatorial challengers. As state chairman for Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry, Shaheen said he is concentrating on getting Kerry into the White House. But he promised to help his party win back the governor's office.

Democrats are picking over their brightest stars for more than just the governor's race. The idea is that posting a strong candidate for governor helps the party's nominee against President Bush on Election Day.

This political sweepstakes runs contrary to a couple of traditions: New Hampshire voters tend to give first-term governors a second two-year term and Benson could face a challenge in his primary.

State Sen. Dick Green, R-Rochester, who last year called the governor "a brat" who was "on an ego trip" for walking away from budget negotiations, said he is now considering a run.

"It's starting to develop a life of its own because people have a desire to get rid of this governor," he said last night. "There's a growing dissatisfaction out there."

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