On the trail: State Sen. Tom Sherman considering a run for governor

  • State Sen. Tom Sherman —Courtesy

For the Monitor
Published: 12/3/2021 5:06:02 PM

Democratic state Sen. Tom Sherman says he’s “deeply troubled with the direction our state is going.”

The gastroenterologist from Rye and ranking member and former chair of the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee tells the Monitor that he’s considering launching a run for governor in 2022, in hopes of defeating three-term Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

Sherman was interviewed on Friday, a couple of hours after Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas announced his 2022 reelection bid for a third term in New Hampshire’s First Congressional District. There had been speculation all year that Pappas would potentially forgo seeking another term in Washington and instead run for governor. With Pappas officially out of the governor’s race, the contest for the Democratic nomination is now wide open.

“Chris Pappas is highly respected and has a formidable political base. He would have been a strong contender had he run for governor. I would have expected that others would have deferred to him had he decided to run for governor,” veteran Democratic strategist and New Hampshire native Chris Moyer said.

The Monitor spoke to a half a dozen Granite State based Democrats about those in their party who were leaning towards a gubernatorial run and the one name that all six mentioned was Sherman, who represents Senate District 24, which is located in the Seacoast.

“Dr. Sherman is absolutely someone who has earned a lot of respect across the state. He has a record of leading bipartisan legislation on issues like clean water, expanding health care access, protecting our democracy, and many of his bills have been signed into law,” Democratic consultant Lucas Meyer noted.

Meyer, a former New Hampshire Young Democrats president who steered Pappas’ 2020 reelection, also cited Sherman’s “expertise in the medical field to lead us out of this pandemic.”

Both Sherman and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington reported strong fundraising figures this week, sparking more speculation that both may be considering Democratic gubernatorial bids.

“We were able to knock it out of the park. Tons of support. Tons of untapped support. I don’t have any doubt that I can raise whatever amount of funds I need. But that’s something I can’t wait until February to do,” Sherman said. “So my plan is to continue fundraising whether it’s going to be for my reelection and to make sure Democrats get elected up and down the ballot, or if it’s running for governor.”

On his timetable, Sherman said he feels some urgency.

“The sooner the better but I can’t rush the process,” he said. “I’m going keep doing all my hard work in the meantime, both legislating and fundraising, and continue to have discussions that I need to have before I make a final decision.”

Sherman told the Monitor that bipartisanship has grown cold and he would like to change that.

“When I moved here, whether you were a Republican or a Democrat, you could find a lot of common ground,” he said. “Over the last decade of my work in the legislature, that’s been one of the most exciting parts of it. We actually get stuff done.”

More recently that’s not been the case.

“What I’ve seen over the last year and a half with this new legislature and with the governor is this incredible lurch to the right and in the crosshairs is women’s reproductive rights, public schools, censorship,” he said. “I’m afraid New Hampshire is losing its way.”

Sherman criticized Sununu for his recent handling of the pandemic.

“That leadership that he showed during COVID evaporated in June, at the end of the state of emergency,” Sherman said. “Now we’re seeing COVID worse than it’s ever been in this state and the governor is not leading.”

Sherman spotlighted the state’s going in “the wrong direction” when it comes to women’s reproductive rights and lamented that “these different crises that we’ve talked about for a decade – they’re still there. Mental health, substance use, drinking water, public schools. These are not solved.”

He charged that “the governor has had six years to do it and we need somebody in there who will actually do it.”

Pointing to his work in the legislature, Sherman said he knows how to get things done in a positive way.

“My positive message is: We can do this. We know how to solve problems and face challenges. We do it together, whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or independent. We do this together. And that’s not happening right now and that’s why we need a governor who can build those bridges and bring people back together.”

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