Snow may be on the ground before Gov. Chris Sununu announces whether he’ll launch a Republican challenge in 2022 against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan.
Sununu’s been saying for at least a month that a decision wouldn’t come this summer. In an interview this week, he hammered home that point and seemed to extend the timeline for a campaign announcement.
“It really could be until the winter. I mean, I’m not even talking late summer. I can tell you there’s no decision this summer,” Sununu told longtime New Hampshire radio broadcaster and host Mike Pomp on his morning program at WTSN.
“I’ve got a job to do and I’m going to focus on that for three, six, nine months,” the governor said.
Sununu, who continues to register very healthy public opinion poll numbers and whose coattails from his landslide re-election victory last November helped the Republicans win back majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature as well as the Executive Council, has earned the right to make his decision and announcement on his own timetable.
Besides a challenge to Hassan, Sununu could choose to run for re-election for a fourth two-year term steering New Hampshire, or not run for anything next year and return to the private sector.
But the governor is facing a major lobbying effort by national Republicans – all the way up to U.S. Senate GOP Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell – to take on Hassan next year as conservatives try to win back the chamber. And the governor’s eventual decision – regardless of what it may be – will trigger announcements by other New Hampshire Republicans in the Senate, gubernatorial, and even congressional races.
The governor’s political team told the Monitor recently that Sununu’s very cognizant that others are waiting for a signal, and that once the governor announces his next move, the other dominoes will quickly fall. But that domino effect will have to wait a while.
And from a purely campaign perspective, there are both positives and negatives for Sununu to wait on his decision if he ends up announcing a Senate run against Hassan, which would become one of the most high profile, competitive and expensive Senate showdowns in the nation next year.
NHDP ties Sununu to McConnell
The New Hampshire Democratic Party on Wednesday launched a new campaign to tie Sununu to McConnell.
The state party announced its “McConnell-Sununu Exposed” campaign “will act as a war room within The New Hampshire Democratic Party and will mobilize digital, communications, and organizing tools to expose Sununu’s close ties to McConnell.”
The state party relentlessly tried to tie Sununu to then-President Donald Trump during his 2018 and 2020 gubernatorial reelections, but the targeting didn’t prevent Sununu from winning a second term in a single-digit win in 2018 and a third term in a massive reelection victory last November.
Democrats tout child tax credit
The Democratic National Committee and the party’s House and Senate re-election arms – the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – are teaming up to go up with a modest digital ad buy in New Hampshire and a handful of other battleground states.
The spots praise the expanded child care tax credit payments – which this week are starting to go out to eligible Americans.
As part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which was passed by congressional Democrats earlier this year, credits for children up to age 17 are increased.
Hassan record fundraising figures
In an interview with the Monitor a couple of weeks ago, Hassan 2022 reelection campaign manager Aaron Jacobs teased that the senator would set another fundraising record when her April-June second-quarter figures were released.
It was no surprise then when Hassan’s campaign announced this week that the senator hauled in $3.25 million the past three months, for her third New Hampshire Senate quarterly fundraising record. The campaign also reported having a healthy $6.5 million in their coffers as of the end of June.
The 2016 showdown between then-Gov. Hassan and Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte – which Hassan won by just 1,017 votes – set a record as the most expensive Senate election in Granite State history. And the price tag for Senate races has only multiplied since then. Last year’s Senate campaign in North Carolina – with $280 million spent by the candidates, political parties, and outside groups like super PACs – shattered records as the most expensive in U.S. history.
The 2022 Senate race in New Hampshire – which will likely be one of the key races to decide the chamber’s majority – may end up being the most expensive showdown in Granite State history.
The U.S. Senate is currently split 50/50 between the two major parties, but the Democrats control the majority thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris through her constitutional role as president of the Senate. That means the GOP needs a net gain of just one seat to retake the chamber.
But Republicans are defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs next year, including five open seats, with two of those retirements in the crucial electoral battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and North Carolina. While playing plenty of defense, the GOP sees the potential to flip blue seats red in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and here in New Hampshire.
Take two for Burns
Former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns is making a second Republican run for the U.S. House in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District.
Burns, who came in fourth in the seven-candidate GOP primary field in 2018, will once again seek his party’s nomination in hopes of challenging five-term Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster.
“I believe in securing the border, protecting our gun rights, and stopping Critical Race Theory from creeping into our schools,” Burns says as he touts his conservative credentials in a radio ad now running in the state.
Burns lives in Bedford, which is located in the First Congressional District. But New Hampshire law only requires congressional candidates to be residents of the state rather than specifically the district in which they’re running.