Campaign

Sununu passes on US Senate race in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced on Tuesday that he will not run for Senate in 2022 and will instead seek another term as governor.

“I’d rather push myself 120 miles an hour delivering wins for New Hampshire than to slow down, end up on Capitol Hill debating partisan politics without results. That’s why I am going to run for a fourth term,” Sununu said speaking from Concord, N.H.

“There is just so much that we can do but a U.S. senator does none of this. A governor must be accountable and deliver results,” he continued. “It’s what I’ve done, it’s how I can best serve New Hampshire and defend its values.” 

Sununu’s move is also a blow for Republicans, who saw him as a prime candidate to run against incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and leaves an open field for other potential GOP challengers, which could include former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut.

Republicans in Washington, including National Republican Senatorial  Committee Chair Rick Scott (R-Fla.), had pushed for Sununu to run against Hassan. The GOP views the seat, which the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates as “lean Democratic,” as a potential pickup in their bid to take back the Senate. 

But Sununu on Tuesday said his “responsibility is not to the gridlock of politics in Washington, it’s to the citizens in New Hampshire.”

Polls showed a tight theoretical race between Sununu and Hassan. A Saint Anselm College Survey Center survey conducted last month showed Sununu leading Hassan 46 percent to 41 percent. However, the same poll showed Sununu’s approval rating decreased from 64 percent in August to 56 percent last month. Hassan had a 44 percent approval rating, according to the poll. 

Democrats inside and outside of New Hampshire had long prepared for the prospect of a Sununu run. Last week, the New Hampshire Democratic Party released a memo titled “Sununu Prepares to Launch His McConnell-Backed Campaign for U.S. Senate After Most Disastrous Period for Any Governor in Recent NH History.” 

Other outside Democratic-leaning groups also got in on the action. Amplify NH, a progressive group launched a seven-figure ad buy in September targeting Sununu on his stance on abortion. The group rolled out their latest ad on Tuesday, hours before Sununu’s announcement. 

Democrats appeared to take a victory lap of sorts following the announcement. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee rolled out a statement calling Sununu’s “refusal to run is a devastating recruitment failure for national Republicans.” 

“His decision reflects the strength of Senator Hassan’s record of accomplishment and shows that even the most sought after potential GOP candidates don’t want to run against strong Democratic Senators who are keeping their promises and delivering for their states,” DSCC spokeswoman Amanda Sherman-Baity said. 

Another run for governor in 2022 could be a safer bet for Sununu. Cook rates the race as “solid Republican.”

However, Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), who is facing an uphill reelection bid, has been floated as a potential Democratic candidate. But he like, other elected officials in New Hampshire, appears to be facing low approval ratings. The same Saint Anselm poll showed his approval rating at 42 percent and his disapproval rating at 46 percent.  

Updated at 11:30 a.m.

Tags Chris Pappas Chris Sununu Kelly Ayotte Maggie Hassan New Hampshire

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