Bedford businessman Shawn O’Connor is now an official candidate for the 1st District U.S. House seat, filing a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission last week.
His move comes after a “Draft Shawn for New Hampshire” organization promoted his candidacy for several weeks and comes amid strong speculation that Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is also eyeing another run for the seat she held for three terms but lost to Republican Frank Guinta in November. If she opts not to run, then it is likely that Executive Councilor Chris Pappas will become a candidate, sources close to Pappas say.
O’Connor, the founder and CEO of Stratus Prep, a test preparation and admissions counseling firm with offices in New York and Bedford, said, “It was important for me to know that I had grassroots support, and the draft movement demonstrated that. It was a separate entity. They demonstrated to me through house parties and phone contacts that there was strong support for my candidacy and so I decided to begin the campaign. I’m confident I can win this seat for the Democratic Party given my commitment to progressive values such as marriage equality and choice, but also for fiscal responsibility.”
O’Connor begins his campaign operation from ground zero, at least from a staffing standpoint. Some Democrats had anticipated that the activist who headed the draft movement — Mike McCollum, a former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee field director in West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District – would stay on with a leading role in O’Connor’s campaign.
But that did not occur. McCollum has moved on, O’Connor said, to other activities in field organizing.
“He may help me a little bit but I don’t expect him to come on the campaign staff,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor also said, however, that he is “assembling a campaign team and beginning to put that together. There is no official announcement yet, and I will be introducing the team in the weeks or months to come. I’m excited to move forward.”
O’Connor, a newcomer to politics, said he was “transparent” about his decision to become a candidate with other key Democrats. He said he reached out to Shea-Porter but did not receive a response, and said he has also been in touch with Pappas.
“Chris and I are pretty good friends and I have tremendous respect for him,” said O’Connor. “He didn’t push back on my candidacy in any way.”
He said he also informed other leading Democrats, including NHDP Chairman Raymond Buckley and Democratic National Committeeman Bill Shaheen. He said he did not receive any “pushback” from them, either.
O’Connor, a graduate of Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, said that at this early stage, he has not sought nor received any endorsements but he said he is confident they will come as the campaign gets underway. He said he will plan an announcement event at some point in the coming months.
Overall, he said, “There is a lot of important work to be done. The country can’t stagnate and I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work for the people of the First District.”