- Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu will seek re-election next year instead of challenging Democratic US Sen. Maggie Hassan, he announced Tuesday.
- The decision is a blow to the Senate GOP’s hopes of flipping the chamber, as national Republicans viewed Sununu as a top recruit.
- Asked if he would ever run for the presidency, Sununu said, “I haven’t ruled out going to Washington, it’s not as a senator right now.”
Republicans lost one of their top recruits in their bid to retake the Senate the following year.
GOP New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu will run for re-election in 2022 instead of challenging Democratic US Sen. Maggie Hassan, he announced Tuesday. Top Republicans pushed the governor to run for Senate, seeing him as the party’s best chance to flip the swing-state seat.
Announcing the run for a fourth term, Sunanu, 47, said, “My responsibility is not for Washington’s stalemate and politics. It is for the citizens of New Hampshire.”
The GOP governor acknowledged the pressure to run for Senate, but said he thought he could have a bigger influence on the Granite State as governor. Sununu did not rule out future national political ambitions. Asked if he would ever run for president, he said, “I haven’t ruled out going to Washington, it’s not as a senator right now.”
New Hampshire is expected to be one of the top Republican targets in 2022 as the GOP tries to regain control of a 50-50 Senate split by party. Democrats have a majority through the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Next year’s election results will shape the policies that Congress passes during the last two years of President Joe Biden’s first term. Historically rough midterm results for the incumbent president’s party — and Biden’s poor approval ratings — bodes well for the GOP as it tries to overturn control of Congress.
Republicans seem to have a clearer path to securing a majority in the House than by taking back the Senate. The GOP has 20 Senate seats up for re-election next year, while Democrats represent 14.
Republicans will target states including New Hampshire, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada. Democrats will try to flip seats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina.
Hasan, 63, faces a tough road to re-election despite Sununu’s exit from the race. The first-time senator and former governor defeated former GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte by just 1,000 votes in 2016.
Biden took the state last year by about 7 percentage points in a national environment that will likely be more Democrat-friendly than it is in 2022.
In a statement following Sununu’s decision, Hassan campaign manager Aaron Jacobs said, “We know that anyone who emerges as the Republican nominee is going to be an uphill battle.”
“The senator has shown she can work down the aisle to get results for the Granite Staters — and that’s why she has a record of winning tough races,” he said. “Our campaign is ready for the challenge ahead.”
Sununu on Tuesday refused to endorse any potential Republican candidate for the seat. If he wins a fourth term as governor, it will be a long run for his family in state politics: his father, John, was the governor of New Hampshire, and his brother, also named John, won the Senate. represented the state.
Sununu said he did not tell Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott — the Florida Republican who leads the Senate GOP’s campaign arm — before announcing his decision.
“I think you have to tell them,” he told reporters.
A crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump took to the Capitol on January 6, while lawmakers formally counted Biden’s electoral victory, the first nationwide congressional election to be held in the 2022 midterm. Scott was among eight GOP senators who voted to object to the counting of at least one state’s certified election results after the rioters were removed from the legislature.