In a move that stunned state political insiders, New Hampshire U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster abruptly announced Wednesday she won’t seek a seventh term, creating a rare open-seat opportunity in the Granite State’s all-Democrat federal delegation.

“When I was first elected to Congress in 2012, I promised to bring a new approach to Washington. Over the past 12 years, I have been proud to do just that,” Kuster said in a statement. “I always said I was not going to stay in Congress forever — I will not be seeking re-election in 2024.”

Kuster is one of 46 members of Congress who have announced they are leaving office this session, according to the House Press Gallery. Kuster is the 25th Democrat to head for the exits, while 21 Republicans have done the same.

“We accomplished a lot. We laid out a path for a bipartisan approach,” the 67-year-old Kuster told Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser Wednesday. “I’m very excited to turn that over to my colleagues, the younger generation, help them realize how they can be effective.”

Kuster didn’t offer any previous public hints that she was on her way out. Though it’s well known in New Hampshire political circles that Kuster has been talking about retirement for years, she’s kept of an aggressive pace of fundraising emails and events in 2024. And she’s been promoting her role as chair of the center-left New Democrat Coalition, “made up of nearly 100 forward-thinking Democrats” in the House, according to its website.

While Kuster often touts her “bipartisanship,” the record shows she voted with President Joe Biden 100 percent of the time during the previous Congress, and 96 percent of the time in 2023.

In her most recent high-profile votes, for example, Kuster joined a majority of fellow Democrats in failed attempts to block the Laken Riley Act and prevent the censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib for using antisemitic “From the river to the sea” rhetoric. She also voted against military funding for Israel, supported by a 250-180 majority, but which failed to reach the two-thirds threshold needed to pass.

Her fellow Granite Stater Rep. Chris Pappas, on the other hand, broke with Kuster and the majority of his party on all of those votes.

“Let’s face it — Annie Kuster’s progressive,” said veteran GOP strategist Mike Dennehy in the latest edition of the NHJournal podcast. “Her retirement comes as a big surprise. She’s a fundraising machine.”

Democrats heaped praise on Kuster, who will continue serving until her term ends in January.

“Her record of public service and delivering for New Hampshire is unmatched. I am constantly in awe of and inspired by her courage and will miss her as a colleague and friend. With her help, I’m confident that this seat will remain in Democratic hands so that Granite Staters can continue having a fighter for them in Congress,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.)

Both Democrats seeking their party’s gubernatorial nomination released statements praising Kuster.

“As mayor of Manchester, I saw how hard she worked to bring innovative business to New Hampshire, to protect access to abortion care and reproductive freedom, and to address the challenges facing our state,” said Joyce Craig.

Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington called Kuster “an inspiration who’s always made Granite Staters proud. For years, Annie has been my friend, mentor, and a trailblazer for our state.”

But nobody offered as much praise — or in as timely a manner — as failed 2016 gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern, a Concord Democrat.

While Kuster’s announcement caught nearly everyone in Granite State politics by surprise, it took less than an hour for Ostern to have his statement out celebrating Kuster’s career. He also posted on his Twitter/X political account for the first time since 2020.

“Congratulations to our congresswoman, Annie Kuster, on her announcement today about the next chapter in her life and career after she retires from the U.S. Congress,” Ostern wrote. “Through the progress and setbacks on reproductive freedom, she has never wavered, and all of us who carry that torch know she’ll be right there next to us, in her next chapter of her career.

“Annie has never been afraid to be ‘Annie’ – an activist, advocate, author, adoption attorney, and most of all, a friend. Congratulations, Annie, and thank you, from all of us in New Hampshire’s second congressional district.”

Not surprisingly, Ostern is on the short list of Democrats expected to enter the Second Congressional District race.

“I really expect Colin to be the main Democratic candidate,” Dennehy said “And as we know the Democrats are good at eliminating primaries, so I don’t expect he’ll have much opposition if he runs.”

Also on the list is former Executive Councilor and 2020 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andru Volinsky, sources told NHJournal.

Other Democratic names in the rumor mill are state Sen. Donovan Fenton (D-Keene), Kayla Montgomery of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and Sen. Becky Whitley (D-Hopkinton).

On the GOP side, 2022 primary candidate Lily Tang Williams has been running for months.

“I want to thank Rep. Kuster for her service and I hope all is well with her and her family,” Williams said in a statement. “I am energized that the voters of our district will be offered a choice based on issues rather than incumbency.”

Bob Burns, who won GOP the nomination in 2022, told NHJournal he’s “definitely taking a look at it,” and several supporters say his entrance in the race is all but a done deal.

And Vikram Mansharamini is also getting a lot of GOP buzz. Sources say he’s taking phone calls and giving the race serious consideration.

“He’s smart, he’s already run statewide, and he can self-fund,” one New Hampshire GOP source told NHJournal. “That’s about the best the party can hope for.”