No Word From NH Gov. Sununu On Race That Could Decide Senate Control New Hampshire Governor Christopher Sununu. (Scott Eisen/Getty)
By John Gizzi | Monday, 17 May 2021 05:47 PM
There is no argument in New Hampshire that the biggest political question this year is whether Republican Gov. Chris Sununu will take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in 2022.
With the GOP so far unable to secure top-caliber challengers to Democratic Senators Mark Kelly (Ariz.) and Raphael Warnock (GA), their best bet at this time is to recruit the Granite State’s popular three-term governor against Hassan (herself a former governor, who won a photo-finish contest by 1,017 votes in ’16 against then-GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte).
According to a Politico on Monday, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell “has personally lobbied” Sununu for the Senate race. National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Rick Scott, Fla., “has been calling Sununu constantly and putting the stakes of his entry in blunt terms.”
With the Senate divided evenly between the parties with 50 seats each (and Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote for the Democrats), a “Sen. Sununu, R.-NH” could give Republicans control.
But will the son of a former governor and brother of a former U.S. Senator run for the Senate himself?
“We won't know for a while,” former State Attorney General Tom Rath told Newsmax, “Sununu is pretty clearly the most popular political figure in the state. He controls most of options and I doubt he decides any time soon. Plus, you know how much we enjoy the game of political ‘what if’ up here.”
Rath, who ran Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s second-place finishing campaign in the 2016 presidential primary, added that if Sununu did not run, “Kelly Ayotte would be viewed as most likely next in line. She held the seat until losing a narrow re-election race to Hassan, complicated by a late third party hard right
challenge which siphoned as much as 15,000 votes away from Ayotte and cost her re-election.
Whatever Sununu decides, in Rath’s eyes, “it could trigger the biggest game of musical chairs we have seen for a long time here or a prolonged case of the status quo…and no one really knows the answer . An open governor’s seat would prompt strong battles within both parties and might open up at least one of the two congressional seats.”
Other sources say Sununu will decide what he will do sometime later this year.
Agreeing with Rath that Sununu has a very good chance of moving to the Senate if he runs, former Republican Rep. Charlie Bass quickly observed that.” I do not feel that the Republican establishment will have much influence over his decision to run.
Bass, whose Rep-father Perkins Bass was the unsuccessful Republican Senate nominee in 1962, told us “[t]he fundamental decision that Chris has to make relates to his own thoughts as to where his career is headed– be it to remain in public service or to leave, as his [Democratic] predecessor John Lynch did.. to return to private life.”
Whatever Sununu decides, his final answer will be one of the most discussed, analyzed, and reported statements of intention by any politician in 2021.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.