By Bill Pan
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who is serving his fourth term in office, has confirmed that he will not run for a fifth term next year.
In a letter to his supporters, the Republican governor said he came to his decision after discussion with his wife and children and “much consideration.”
“This was no easy decision as I truly love serving as governor,” Mr. Sununu wrote in the letter. “Public service should never be a career, and the time is right for another Republican to lead our great state.”
The governor also highlighted a list of accomplishments that he said made his state a better place than what it was when he was first elected, including low unemployment, tax cuts, investments in housing, expansion of school choice programs, and preservation of gun rights, among others.
Mr. Sununu’s announcement comes weeks after he said he would not run for president in 2024, citing an already crowded field of Republicans seeking the nomination, the strength former President Donald Trump is showing in the polls, and Mr. Sununu’s wish to “have more credibility” speaking out against Mr. Trump as a noncandidate.
“Candidates should not get into this race to further a vanity campaign, to sell books or to audition to serve as Donald Trump’s vice president,” he wrote in a June 5 op-ed published in The Washington Post, without specifying whom he was referring to.
“No one can stop candidates from entering this race, but candidates with no path to victory must have the discipline to get out,” he argued. “Anyone polling in the low single digits by this winter needs to have the courage to hang it up and head home.”
He also criticized Republicans who advocate policies he considered “deeply unpopular and restrictive” at a national level, such as banning abortions and removing certain books from public schools. Talking about these things, he said, scares away millennial and Generation Z voters, who will be a “significant voting bloc” in 2024.
“Republicans should recognize that every time they open their mouths to talk about banning abortion, an independent voter joins the Democrats,” Mr. Sununu wrote, although he approved a 24-week abortion ban that came as part of New Hampshire’s 2021 budget bill.
Two Democrats are aiming for New Hampshire governor’s seat: Cinde Warmington, the sole Democrat member on the state’s elected five-member executive council, and Joyce Craig, who has been serving as mayor of Manchester, the most populous city in the state, since 2018.
On the Republican side, shortly after Mr. Sununu’s announcement, former New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse officially kicked off his gubernatorial campaign.
“Now that he’s decided not to run for re-election, I’m announcing that I am running for Governor to build on those successes,” Mr. Morse said on social media.
Two other Republicans are also expected to join the race, namely former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, a close challenger to Mr. Sununu for the Republican nomination in the 2016 gubernatorial race.
New Hampshire Democrats, who were unsuccessful in their effort to unseat Mr. Sununu over the past years, pledged to undo his legacy if they win next year’s election.
“This announcement today marks an inflection point for our state,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said in a statement. “We can begin to turn back the clock on the damaging policies enacted under Chris Sununu’s tenure.”
Republicans, meanwhile, praised Mr. Sununu for acting as a “unifying force” while in office.
“Beyond his policy achievements, Governor Sununu has been a unifying force for the Republican Party in our state,” New Hampshire Republican Party Chair Chris Ager said in a statement. “He supported candidates up and down the ballot to build a Republican team that cut taxes, balanced the budget year after year, and restored trust in the State Government.”