Choices loom for Sununu, Ayotte ahead of 2020 election

For the Monitor
Published: 4/4/2019 5:46:17 PM

When it comes to questions about New Hampshire politics, there’s one big elephant in the room.

Will Republican Gov. Chris Sununu run for a third term in the corner office or challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who’s campaigning for re-election in 2020?

It’s something we’ve explored in depth in this column the past couple of weeks.

While Sununu makes up his mind, plenty of people are weighing in, both privately and publicly.

Among them, someone very close to Republican President Donald Trump.

Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and a high-profile adviser with Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, says she’d like to see Sununu continue to steer New Hampshire.

“We think he’s doing such a great job. Obviously, we’d support him no matter what he wants to do. But I like what he’s done so far as governor. So I would almost encourage him not to leave that position,” Lara Trump told the Monitor on Tuesday.

She was interviewed minutes before headlining the New Hampshire GOP’s annual fundraising gala, which was held in Nashua this year.

If Sununu decides to take on Shaheen, there’s speculation that former Republican senator Kelly Ayotte would consider running for the open governor’s office.

Ayotte, a former state attorney general who lost her 2016 Senate re-election by an extremely narrow margin to then-governor Maggie Hassan, remains very popular among Granite State Republicans.

But would she consider a 2020 gubernatorial bid?

A source close to the former senator told the Monitor that Ayotte’s inner circle of friends and advisers are telling her not to “rule anything out” at this point.

Booker’s baby bonds

Presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker returns to New Hampshire this weekend. The Democrat from New Jersey plans to use his Saturday to Sunday swing through the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state to highlight the American Opportunity Accounts Act. That’s a bill he introduced in the U.S. Senate that he says would close the wealth inequality gap and level the playing field so that all kids could succeed and find opportunity.

The measure, if passed into law, would give every child across the country at birth a savings account with $1,000. And every year up to age 18, the government would deposit up to $2,000 annually in those accounts, based on a child’s family income.

The Booker campaign pointed out that the more than 12,000 kids born annually in New Hampshire would have the accounts opened in their names, with about one in 10 Granite State children each year receiving the full $2,000 annual payment.

Booker will spotlight his plan at house parties Saturday evening in Amherst and Sunday morning in Bedford, as well as at larger “Conversation with Cory” town hall-type events later Sunday in Londonderry and Dover.

Buttigieg and Gillibrand in Concord

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg – who’s seen his star rise over the past month – returns to New Hampshire this weekend. He’ll hold a meet-and-greet at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester on Friday evening. On Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m., he’ll be at Gibson’s Bookstore on South Main Street in Concord for a meet-and-greet with the Merrimack County Democrats. Gibson’s Bookstore is once again a must-stop on the campaign trail for White House hopefuls.

A day ahead of his arrival, Buttigieg appeared to draw a line between himself and one of the front runners in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Asked on the morning radio program “New Hampshire Today with Jack Health” about how he differs from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – who describes himself as a Democratic socialist – Buttigieg said “I guess I’d describe myself as a Democratic capitalist. I believe in capitalism. I cut my teeth in the business community.”

But he added that “when you have increasing large corporate players using money to purchase power, it begins eroding our democracy. And that Democratic part of Democratic capitalism is extremely important.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is also in the Granite State on Friday and Saturday. She will hold a meet-and-greet in Dover on Friday evening and a paid family and medical leave roundtable discussion Saturday morning in Laconia. On Saturday afternoon, she comes to the capital city for a 2:20 p.m. town hall at the Concord Parks and Recreation Community Center.

Diagnosis not stopping Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado – who’s moving towards launching a presidential campaign – returns to New Hampshire this weekend for his second trip within a month.

On Wednesday evening, ahead of his trip, Bennet announced that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer late last month.

“While hearing news like this is never easy, I am fortunate it was detected early, and as a result, my prognosis is good. During the upcoming Senate recess, I will have surgery in Colorado and return to work following a brief recovery,” he said in a statement.

And pointing to his likely presidential campaign, Bennet highlighted that “this unanticipated hurdle only reinforces how strongly I feel about contributing to the larger conversation about the future of our country, and I am even more committed to drive that conversation in a positive direction.”

Last month, Bennet told the Monitor he was “inclined” to run for the White House.

Bennet kicks off his trip with a town hall Saturday in Nashua. On Sunday morning, he headlines a house party in Concord, followed by a meet-and-greet in Exeter with the Rockingham Democrats and a house party in Dover.

Swalwell stopping in N.H. ahead of likely launch

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California returns to New Hampshire on Saturday for the first time in two months. He will hold a late afternoon meet-and-greet with the Rye and North Hampton Democrats before headlining the Milford Democrats Potluck Supper.

Swalwell’s expected to announce his presidential plans next week during a guest appearance on ‘TheLate ShowWith Stephen Colbert.’

He’s scheduled to return to New Hampshire again April 18.

During his last trip to the Granite State, Swalwell told the Monitor that he saw “nothing but green lights so far” when asked about thelikelihood of jumping into the 2020 race.

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