Former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig got multiple questions about her Queen City record when she filed to run for governor on Friday. But they all got the same answer.

“My record of mayor of Manchester is something that I’m very proud of,” Craig told NHJournal when asked what role her six years in that job would play in the Democratic primary for governor. “I have the executive experience. I have been on the front line dealing with our statewide challenges, implementing evidence-based solutions, and making progress on those challenges.”

She offered variations on that theme to other reporters as well.

Political conventional wisdom is that the perception of Manchester as a city awash in crime, homelessness, and drugs under Craig’s tenure is an obstacle for her campaign. And New Hampshire Republicans make no secret of their delight at the prospect of running against “Manch-ghanistan” Mayor Craig.

Her Democratic primary opponent, Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, is already pointing to the voters’ verdict on Craig’s tenure as proof Craig has a political problem.

Joyce Craig is joined by supporters as she files her paperwork in the Democratic primary for governor on June 14, 2024.

“I’m not going to judge what Joyce Craig did,” Warmington told radio host Jack Heath last month. “I think the best judge of that is what happened in the mayoral election last November. The Republicans ran on, ‘Do you want more of what you’ve had, or do you want change?’ And the Republicans won that race and they won the board of mayor and aldermen as well.

“I think that speaks for itself,” Warmington said.

When NHJournal asked Craig about that critique from Warmington, the former mayor stuck with her statement.

“I think voters need to understand that we have done on the job. I have the executive experience to walk into this office and get things done on Day One,” Craig said. “That’s what voters in New Hampshire are looking for, someone who understands the challenges, who can get things done, and that’s the experience that I have.”

When another reporter asked about Democrats’ concerns Craig will spend all her time defending her record in Manchester and the Democrats’ defeat in municipal elections, Craig didn’t crack.

“So again, the record that I have in Manchester stands. The work that I have done has made a positive impact on not only on residents of Manchester, but throughout our state.”

That is the same approach the Craig campaign took back in January when campaign manager Craig Brown released a polling memo claiming “her record of accomplishment as mayor” is a winner.

“I like Joyce, but ‘don’t turn my town into Manchester’ is a message Republicans could really use against her,” one longtime Granite State Democrat told NHJournal.

One of Craig’s strengths on display at her filing was her support from labor unions. Glenn Brackett, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, was on hand to back her bid.

“Joyce Craig is the strongest choice for New Hampshire’s working families, and we are proud to support her campaign for governor,” Brackett said when his union endorsed her earlier this year. “We know Joyce will work tirelessly to raise wages and protect workers, which is why we will work tirelessly to make sure Joyce is New Hampshire’s next governor.”

Craig has also been endorsed by the New Hampshire Building Trades and Construction Council.

The Manchester Democrat only discussed policy specifics in passing on Friday. On the issue of the state’s housing shortage, Craig said she would “take a look at underutilized land and buildings that the state has.”

Republican candidate for governor Kelly Ayotte has been hitting for more than 300 days over her refusal to say whether or not she supports sanctuary city policies in New Hampshire. Asked about it yet again, Craig repeated an answer she’s given in the past.

“I want to be clear: New Hampshire is not a sanctuary state, and nothing would change if I were governor.”

She also said she would not repeat Gov. Chris Sununu’s decision to send New Hampshire guardsmen to the Texas-Mexico border to help slow the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S.

“That is a federal issue. And I would work with our federal delegation to ensure the funding is there. That is not something that I believe should be a burden on New Hampshire taxpayers,” Craig said.