Maura Sullivan, an Illinois native turned Washington, D.C. insider who is now running for Congress in New Hampshire, is attending two fundraisers in Illinois over the next few weeks alongside former President Barack Obama's senior strategist David Axelrod and other wealthy donors.
New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) reporter Lauren Chooljian sent out screenshots on Twitter of two invitations to the fundraisers Sullivan, a candidate in the state's 1st Congressional District, would be headlining, noting several of the names listed on the invitations were "familiar" in Illinois politics.
"Looks like @maurasullivan will be heading to Illinois next week to fundraise for the #nh01 race #nhpolitics @nhpr Lots of familiar #twill names on there," Chooljian tweeted.
— Lauren Chooljian (@laurenchooljian) June 4, 2018
Sullivan moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire last June with her fiancé, Marc, after serving in the military and later working in the Obama administration. As a Marine Corps officer, she was promoted to the rank of Captain before later serving in the Obama administration as Department of Veterans Affairs assistant secretary for the Office of Public & Intergovernmental Affairs. She also served as a commissioner on the American Battle Monuments Commission and worked a stint at the Pentagon.
A few months after Sullivan moved to New Hampshire, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D., N.H.) announced she wasn't going to run for reelection, leaving the 1st District seat open for Democrats to run. Sullivan declared her candidacy last October for the seat, but she has faced backlash within the district as many voters are suspicious of her intentions given her new arrival and lack of strong ties to the Granite State.
While Sullivan has vehemently defended herself from attacks as a carpetbagger, saying she had no idea Shea-Porter would be retiring and that she loved visiting New Hampshire as a kid, voters are still skeptical about her intentions. Before moving to the state, the candidate was mulling a move back to her native state of Illinois, as she reportedly had her eyes on the 3rd and 6th Congressional Districts in Illinois, according to NHPR.
Critics have also questioned her substantial out-of-state campaign donations. Sullivan has raised more than $910,000, and according to her campaign committee, 80 percent of total contributions have come from out of state, ABC affiliate WMUR 9 reported.
Sullivan has defended the large amount of out-of-state funds she’s received, telling the Portsmouth Herald, "this is going to be a real fight to hold this seat and I’m going to need all the help that I can get. So no I’m not worried about it at all."
The National Republican Congressional Committee slammed Sullivan, calling her an "out-of-touch liberal Democrat."
"If this doesn’t show you who the most out-of-touch liberal Democrat in this clown car primary is, I don’t know what will," NRCC spokesman Chris Martin said.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.), a powerful congresswoman and political kingmaker in the Chicago suburbs, told NHPR earlier this year that she had met with Sullivan about running for office in the 6th District but it didn't work out.
"I did meet her in my office, she came, she came to talk to me," Schakowsky said. "I’ve been with Maura a number of different times, and I consider her a friend."
"I said to her at the time, and I’m convinced still to this day, that this was gonna be a very tough race with a lot of competition, and it didn’t work out for her. She decided, I think mainly for personal reasons, that this was not a race she was gonna be in," she added.
In addition to the pair of Illinois congressional districts, multiple sources told NHPR that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had been interested in Sullivan for a long time. While the DCCC wouldn't comment publicly on its recruiting, a few sources said the group had previously considered her for Virginia's 10th Congressional District.
As of May 7, there were nine candidates filed for the Sept. 11 Democratic primary, including Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I., Vt.) son, Levi Sanders.