by Hadley Barndollar, New Hampshire Bulletin
Ending many months of speculation, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced Monday he will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024.
“The Republican Party is at a crossroads, and in 2024 we Republicans must nominate the most conservative candidate for president who can win in November of 2024 and get things done in 2025,” Sununu said in a statement. “As I have traveled the country these last few months, sharing my message of optimistic conservatism, it’s clear that voters are hungry for this change. However, I will not be seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2024.”
Sununu’s decision comes after months of traveling for speaking engagements and TV appearances — in Texas, Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, Washington, D.C., and California. He’d been teasing he would make a final announcement about his potential candidacy in June.
I will not seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024.
The stakes are too high for a crowded field to hand the nomination to a candidate who earns just 35 percent of the vote, and I will help to ensure this does not happen.
Read my full op-ed:https://t.co/biZOzhV8K6
— Chris Sununu (@ChrisSununu) June 5, 2023
Instead of vying for the presidency, Sununu wrote in an op-ed published by the Washington Post that he feels he can have greater impact influencing the future of the Republican Party and the 2024 presidential nomination process as “the governor of the First-in-the-Nation Primary state.”
Sununu centered much of his Washington Post piece on the importance of beating former President Donald Trump. That represents a shift; in 2019, Sununu said, “I am a Trump guy through and through.” Sununu has said he voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020.
Sununu wrote in the Post that if Trump is the 2024 Republican nominee, “Republicans will lose again… This is indisputable, and I am not willing to let it happen without a fight.”
In May, Sununu told a Puck reporter there was a “61 percent chance” he’d run for president. Yet, he’s repeatedly made clear his disdain for federal politics and Washington D.C.
During an Executive Council meeting at Bridges House last summer, Sununu pointed to a taxidermized moose head hanging on the wall. It had adorned former Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s D.C. office until she returned it. Even the moose wanted out, Sununu said.
He echoed that sentiment in his Puck interview.
“Maybe you need a little bit of a disruptor to go down to D.C., to shake things up a little,” he said in May. “I respect people down there. I just don’t like the place.”
On Monday, Sununu thanked “countless individuals across this country who pledged their time, energy, and dollars to my efforts.” He said he plans to continue traveling the country to support the Republican Party “up and down the ticket, bring on new voters, inspire the next generation, and help grow our party. The stakes are too high for any of us to sit on the sidelines.”
Sununu’s decision renewed speculation over his future plans as governor. In November, Sununu, 48, won a fourth, two-year term, tying the record of former Democratic Gov. John Lynch. Meanwhile, all four Republicans that he endorsed for federal office lost.
If Sununu were to win a fifth term, he would be the longest serving governor in state history.
The race for New Hampshire governor in 2024 had already begun, as Democratic Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington officially announced last week she will vie for the position. She may face a primary contest from Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, who is currently exploring her own run for governor.
In recent years, Sununu has avoided setting major new policy goals as governor. Instead, he has said he’s interested in keeping the corner office in order to maintain the initiatives he has already helped create, including the “Doorway” mental health and substance use referral program, creation of a new state forensic psychiatric hospital, and the overhaul of the Division for Children, Youth and Families in his first term.
“The mission is never done,” he said in an election night interview with the Bulletin last November, shortly after winning his fourth term. “You gotta stay right on top of it.”
“There’s nothing major (where) I can say: ‘Boy, this is a huge mandate for us to drive forward on in 2023,’” he said. “It’s really about good management.”
This story was written by Hadley Barndollar with contributions from Ethan DeWitt and Annmarie Timmins, all reporters at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.
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