Sununu wins 4th term as governor

  • Gov. Chris Sununu greets supporters in Newfields on Tuesday morning before casting his own ballot in town. The small Seacoast community of about 1,800 residents is also home to U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan. Courtesy

  • Governor Chris Sununu greeted supporters in Newfields on Tuesday morning before casting his own ballot in town. The small Seacoast community of about 1,800 residents is also home to U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan. —Courtesy

  • Dr. Tom Sherman waits for the election returns at the To Share Brewing Company in Manchester on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Dr. Tom Sherman greets his supporters as he waits for the election returns at the To Share Brewing Company in Manchester on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/8/2022 10:27:55 PM

Debbie Damour went to the polls at the Henniker Community School alongside her husband with women’s rights on her mind.

“A lot of the issues that affect women and their rights, having that be an issue at all is quite deplorable,” she said. “I do worry for the future of our young people.”

But as much as Democrats tried to vilify Gov. Chris Sununu for signing into law a ban on abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, Damour agreed with most voters and cast her ballot to give the Republican governor a fourth term in office.

“I think he’s done a great job even if he’s a Republican,” she said. “I do think he cares about New Hampshire and does the best he can.”

Sununu was declared the winner over Democrat Tom Sherman about 30 minutes after the last polls closed Tuesday.

Abortion was at the heart of Sherman’s campaign for governor. In an election that is seen to be a referendum on abortion rights after the United States Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the state senator and gastroenterologist from Rye echoed the Democrat’s message that a vote for Republicans is a vote against reproductive rights.

“I ran for governor to help small businesses that are trying to expand, young families that can’t find housing, and women like Lisa Akey, who had to testify from her hospital bed because of the abortion ban Sununu signed,” Sherman said Tuesday night as he congratulated Sununu on his win. “While these aren’t the results that we hoped for, I’m so incredibly grateful for the support of Granite Staters who believe we need to put people above politics.”

Voters like Damour exemplify the widespread support enjoyed by Sununu, who remains the state’s most popular politician.

His first term, in which he was the youngest executive in the country at 42, was supported by a Republican legislative majority. His next two years in office were characterized by the use of his red veto pen. After Democrats reclaimed House and Senate majorities in the 2018 election, Sununu set the record for the largest number of vetoes of a modern governor in the state.

He cruised to reelection in his third term thanks to pandemic popularity. After appearing on television weekly ahead of the election, in a media blitz that put Sununu in the homes of voters throughout the early months of the pandemic, it was an uphill battle for Concord Democrat Dan Feltes to unseat the governor.

In this campaign, Sununu focused on the strength of the state during his time as governor.

In the last debate before the election, Sununu pointed to New Hampshire’s low poverty rate, the high quality of public school systems and commitments to public safety and personal freedoms.

“We are absolutely the envy of the nation,” he said.

Now, he will be the second governor to serve four terms. The first was Democrat John Lynch, who left office in 2012.

Sununu surprised his party this time last year when he said his focus was in New Hampshire, not Washington D.C., as GOP leaders tried to persuade him to take on Senator Maggie Hassan.

“My responsibility is not to the gridlock and politics of Washington — it’s to the citizens of New Hampshire,” he said at a press conference last year when he announced his intentions to run for reelection.

Sherman enjoyed success in some Democratic strongholds of the state, including Concord, but it wasn’t nearly enough to topple Sununu, who enjoys immense name recognition throughout New Hampshire.

Sherman announced his bid for governor in March. A month later, a poll from the UNH Survey Center found that 71 percent of voters did not know enough about him to have an opinion on his candidacy.

Yet at his campaign party on Tuesday, he thanked his family, fellow Democrats in the State House and campaign staff who joined him at To Share Brewing Company in Manchester. The small but loud crowd greeted the nominee with chants of, “Tom, Tom, Tom” as he addressed the crowd just as results started to come in at 8 p.m.

“The people of New Hampshire are the most spectacular people in the entire country,” he said. “This is about people first, politics last.”

In his short address, Sherman focused on the connection between his work in medicine and in the State House. The common theme: helping people.

“It felt so natural to go from practicing medicine, to actually helping somebody,” he said. “We change lives for the better. That’s what Democrats do.”


MICHAELA TOWFIGHI

Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.



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