The National Republican Congressional Committee has added New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District to its target list, yet another sign that political professionals believe the Granite State is in play this November.

While NRCC officials acknowledge the Second District tends to favor Democrats, they say the departure of incumbent Rep. Annie Kuster creates an opportunity.

“No matter who comes out of the Democratic primary, they will be forced to defend rising costs, an open border and multiple crises on the international stage,” NRCC spokeswoman Savannah Viar said in a statement. “New Hampshire is fed up with the Democrat failures and ready to elect Republicans on both sides of the state.”

Democrats have controlled the district for all but two years since 2006.

According to NRCC research, independent and unaffiliated voters make up the district’s largest voting block, while Republicans and Democrats each hold roughly 32 percent of the total vote.

The NRCC is banking on polls showing independents siding with Republicans on border security and economic issues. The news also comes after a recent NHJournal poll showing Democratic President Joe Biden running neck-and-neck in New Hampshire with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. A UNH Survey Center poll found a similar result soon after.

Republicans running in the Second Congressional District were happy to hear the news.

“Thank you @NRCC for recognizing the momentum we have here in #NH02. New Hampshire is ready for new leadership who will stand up for our freedoms,” said Republican Lily Tang Williams on X. Williams, a Weare-based GOP activist, has made a name for herself in denouncing the policies that affected her upbringing in communist China.

Lincoln entrepreneur Vikram Mansharamani is also seeking the GOP nomination. His campaign advisor Rob Varsalone told NHJournal “Republicans of all stripes are uniting behind Vikram because they know he is the best candidate to beat the Democrats in the fall and fix the mess in DC.”

Varsalone called the NRCC’s decision “yet another sign of our momentum, and we remain focused on winning the support of voters in NH’s second congressional district.”

The top Democrats angling for their party’s nod to succeed Kuster include state Sen. Becky Whitley (D-Hopkinton), former Executive Councilor and failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern, and Maggie Goodlander, a former deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice under the Biden administration. Goodlander, who is married to Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, lived in Washington, D.C. and Portsmouth, N.H. (which is in the First Congressional District) until recently renting a place in Nashua.

NH-02 will join several other districts being targeted by the NRCC. The organization has also identified embattled Democratic Texas U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s district, located in a hot zone for illegal border crossings from Mexico, and Democratic North Carolina U.S. Rep Kathy Manning, whose redrawn district now includes more registered Republicans.

Cuellar and his wife are currently facing charges by the U.S. DOJ for allegedly accepting nearly $600,000 in bribes from an Azerbaijan-controlled oil and gas company and a Mexican bank.

New Hampshire’s Second District, which runs from Coos County along the Canadian border all the way south to Hillsborough and Cheshire Counties, was last represented by a Republican in Charlie Bass from 2011 to 2013. Bass had previously represented the district from 1994 through 2006 before losing to Democrat Paul Hodes. After Hodes left to seat to make an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 2010, Kuster and Bass faced off. She lost by a narrow 48-47 margin, a race separated by only 3,550 votes.

Kuster’s strong performance caught the attention of former Democratic Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s Democracy for America political action committee. The PAC named Kuster one of the “Dean Dozen,” a group of Democrats Dean identified as “the progressive movement’s best chance at taking back Congress” and also included the likes of Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.)

The boost from Dean’s PAC helped push Kuster across the finish line as in 2012 in her rematch with Bass. Kuster has held the district ever since, with the closest GOP challenge coming from former state Rep. Jim Lawrence (R-Nashua) in 2016, who lost to Kuster by five points.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has both New Hampshire congressional districts rated “likely Democrat.”