Former governor John Sununu says Republicans are ‘going to deliver’

Monitor staff
Thursday, November 23, 2017

Former Republican governor John H. Sununu says he doesn’t believe there will be a Democratic wave in the 2018 elections.

But Sununu, a three-term New Hampshire governor who headed to Washington in 1989 to serve as chief of staff to President George W. Bush, said the key for Republicans next year is to “localize the elections.”

“I think the mood of this country changes the minute this tax bill is passed,” said Sununu, a staple on the national cable news scene and father to New Hampshire’s current governor.

A GOP tax plan passed through the U.S. House of Representatives last week. A different version of the bill is currently making its way through the U.S. Senate.

Sununu said Democrats won the gubernatorial elections earlier this month in Virginia and New Jersey because Republicans haven’t delivered on their promises yet.

“I think once they start delivering on the tax bill and come back and redo health care in January and February, it’s a very different world when people go to the polls, and I think that’s the reality of it. And I’m absolutely convinced the Republicans are going to deliver,” Sununu said. “I think once those two things are done, the whole political climate changes.”

The conventional wisdom is that midterm elections are often a referendum on the performance of the president and can turn disastrous for the party in power. Right now, President Donald Trump’s approval ratings are nothing to brag about even as Republicans control the House and Senate. His ratings are far below any of his predecessors at this point in their presidencies, other than Bill Clinton in 1993.

But Sununu disagreed that the winds will sway away from the Republican Party during the midterm elections.

“I think the principal issues in the off-year elections are always the state issues and the performance of Congress,” he said. “And even though the president is obviously the titular head of the party, I think the state parties across the country are smart enough to know how to localize the elections.”

Sununu has been critical of Trump in the past, notably trading fire with then-presidential candidate Trump in the months leading up to the 2016 first-in-the-nation primary. But he’s now more generous with his assessment.

“I will be thrilled when they pass the tax bill and the health care bill, and that’s the criteria for determining whether the President has been able to fulfill some of his promises,” Sununu said. “I’m actually ecstatic about the job he’s doing in the international scene.”

Sununu’s son Chris is now serving as the state’s first Republican governor in a dozen years. And Democrats are trying to prevent him from winning a second two-year term in next year’s elections.

But only one Granite State governor in the last nine decades has failed to win a second term in office – Republican Gov. Craig Benson, who lost his 2004 re-election bid.

Sununu was able to pass much of his agenda in this year’s legislative session and his approval ratings stand around 60 percent in recent public opinion surveys.

Not surprisingly, the elder Sununu is very proud of the job his son’s doing as governor.

“I think he’s doing great,” he said. “And I think the public is recognizing that when you look at his approval ratings.”