Sununu stays true to his word, will run for another term as governor

  • Governor Chris Sununu stands outside in the crowd at the GOP rally outside the State House on Saturday, March 30, 2019 in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER

For the Monitor
Published: 5/14/2019 8:58:10 PM

When it comes to his immediate political future, Gov. Chris Sununu has made up his mind.

New Hampshire’s two-term Republican governor announced Tuesday evening that he will run next year for a third term instead of mounting a GOP challenge in 2020 against Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

The announcement, made in a Medium post and in an email to supporters, ends months of speculation on whether Sununu would take on Shaheen as she runs for a third 6-year term representing New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate.

But in announcing his re-election campaign, Sununu once again took aim at the senior member of New Hampshire’s all Democratic congressional delegation.

“I truly appreciate the enthusiastic encouragement from so many that I run for the United States Senate. We all know that I would defeat Jeanne Shaheen, but others can too. Never before has a sitting twelve year Senator from New Hampshire accomplished so little,” the governor wrote.

Shaheen’s office had no response when asked about the governor’s comments.

Sununu said that he and his wife Valerie made the decision to run for re-election over the past several weeks.

“Valerie and I have taken a deep look at how my path of public service can best help New Hampshire families,” he said. “Nothing is more critical to our state’s future than ensuring strong leadership in the Corner Office and saving our New Hampshire Advantage.”

The popular governor cited his time in office and the state’s strong economy.

“We’re getting the job done…more people are working today in New Hampshire than at any time in history,” Sununu said. “We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation and wages are at an all-time high.”

The first GOP governor in New Hampshire in a dozen years took aim at the Democrats who took control of the state’s House of Representatives and Senate in last November’s elections.

“What is also clear is that the Democrat’s agenda in New Hampshire has become more radical than any of us ever believed possible,” Sununu said. “This is highlighted by the fact that the Democrats in Concord, for the first time in history, put an income tax bill on the governor’s desk. We stood up for New Hampshire citizens and vetoed that bill, but more Washington, D.C. extremism is on its way.”

Sununu was referring to his veto last week of a Democratic supported paid family and medical leave bill, which he repeatedly claimed was a “backdoor income tax.”

Sununu is a supporter of President Donald Trump and has close ties to the Trump administration. Longtime New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley, a vocal critic of the Republican governor, once again compared Sununu to Trump as he reacted to the governor’s announcement.

“While we regret missing the opportunity to retire Chris Sununu in a campaign for U.S. Senate, we look forward to replacing him as governor in 2020, along with his mentor, Donald Trump,” Buckley worte. “After four years of enriching himself and leaving New Hampshire families in the dust, Chris Sununu will face a successful and strong challenger.”

Just whom that challenger will end up being is unclear at this early stage in the 2020 gubernatorial cycle.

Two Concord Democrats, state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes and Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky appear to be gearing up for gubernatorial bids. And it’s possible that former Portsmouth mayor Steve Marchand, a 2016 and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, may launch a third campaign for the Corner Office. Former state senator Molly Kelly of Harrisville, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, has not ruled out another run. Another potential contender could be Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, who’s running this year for re-election to a second term steering New Hampshire’s largest city.

“We’ve been getting a lot of encouragement over the last few months that is helping us move toward a decision,” Volinksy told the Monitor.

Feltes said Sununu is preventing New Hampshire from making progress on issues that matter most to working families and small businesses.

“Unlike Gov. Sununu, I’m focusing my time now on the legislative session and a budget that works for everyone, whereas Chris Sununu is focusing his time on the 2020 elections,” Feltes said.

Sununu – who enjoys one of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the country – starts the 2020 campaign as the favorite to win re-election.

But his decision leaves the race for the GOP Senate nomination wide open.

Former state House Speaker Bill O’Brien told the Monitor Tuesday night that he’s taking steps toward a run for the GOP Senate nomination. O’Brien said that he has a loose timetable to start setting up an organization by the summer. There’s speculation that retired Brig. Gen. Don Buldoc may also launch campaign. Shaheen, who announced her own re-election earlier this year, starts the 2020 campaign as the clear favorite in the race.

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