New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan on Monday announced she is running for the U.S. Senate in 2016, setting off what's expected to be a fierce battle in the swing state with incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
In a YouTube video released Monday morning, Hassan says she's throwing her hat in the ring "because Washington has given in to powerful special interests and lobbyists who rigged the system for themselves and against the middle class."
A win for Hassan -- a two-term governor -- could be critical for the Democratic Party as it fights to take back control of the Senate.
In the video, Hassan says her "bipartisan approach" and "common sense" will help refocus Washington. She also stresses women's issues, including the "thousands of women who've had access to health care services threatened by politicians playing games with Planned Parenthood."
The Democratic governor has been a vocal supporter of Planned Parenthood, railing against the New Hampshire Executive Council's August vote to defund the state's clinics. Ayotte does not support Planned Parenthood, and voted in August to defund the group.
"I believe we can do better for New Hampshire families," Hassan said. "The Granite State needs a senator who knows that New Hampshire comes first -- and leads like it."
One of only 20 women senators in the 113th Congress, Ayotte was elected in 2010 and announced her re-election bid this summer. Ayotte took to Twitter Monday morning to respond to Hassan's announcement.
"I welcome @Maggie_Hassan 2 the race. Need spirited convo on how best 2 deliver results 4 NH families," she wrote with a link to a formal press release.
"I’m running for reelection so I can continue working across the aisle to solve problems and deliver results for you. Whether it’s stopping wasteful spending, fighting for fairness in the workplace, creating a better climate for small businesses to create jobs, protecting our environment, or keeping our country safe, I wake up every day focused on providing solutions for the issues you care about," she said.
New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn shot back at the announcement with more fire, saying that Hassan failed to "lead on the pressing issues facing New Hampshire."
"Her failed leadership has brought Washington-style gridlock to the governor’s office, and the last thing New Hampshire needs in the Senate is another rubberstamp for more partisan politics," Horn said Monday.