© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
Public Files Contact · ATSC 3.0 FAQ
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sununu passes on another term as New Hampshire governor, leaving 2024 field wide open

Gov. Chris Sununu at an Executive Council meeting in Dover on July 19, 2023.
Todd Bookman
Gov. Chris Sununu at an Executive Council meeting in Dover on July 19, 2023.

Gov. Chris Sununu will not run for reelection in 2024.

Sununu signaled last month that he was leaning against another term leading New Hampshire. He confirmed that choice in an email to supporters Wednesday, saying he made the decision after discussions with his family.

"Public service should never be a career, and the time is right for another Republican to lead our great state," Sununu wrote. "It is with great pride that New Hampshire is better off today than we were seven years ago."

The move comes after Sununu also flirted with a potential run for president, spending months on a national media and events tour, before eventually deciding to forgo that path to higher office.

Gov. Chris Sununu announced he won't run for another term as Governor at an Executive Council meeting on July 19.
Todd Bookman
Gov. Chris Sununu announced he won't run for another term as governor at an Executive Council meeting on July 19.

Sununu's decision now leaves a wide open field for the Republican race for governor in 2024. Within minutes of his announcement, former New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse — who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2022 — announced his entrance into the gubernatorial race. Other potential candidates include former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte and New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut.

Asked about his plans for a potential run for governor at a forum on school funding hosted by Americans for Prosperity New Hampshire Tuesday night, Edelblut declined to get specific, saying he wanted to focus on the topic of the evening.

“The questions about whether or not my future in politics is going in one direction or another is something for another day,” Edeblut said.

When he was first elected in 2016, after narrowly beating Edelblut in a crowded Republican primary, Sununu was the youngest sitting governor in the nation. Before pursuing a campaign for governor, Sununu spent three terms on the Executive Council. He also previously served as CEO of Waterville Valley Ski Resort, which is owned by his family.

Now 48 years old, Sununu’s record as governor showed a focus on conservative policy: Serial tax cuts took effect on his watch, as did looser gun laws, and a voucher-like school choice program.

Sununu was less staunch on social issues. At times he broke with Republican leaders in Concord on policies like parental rights. And while Sununu self-identifies as pro-choice, he alienated supporters of abortion rights by signing a budget bill that included a ban on almost all abortions after 24 weeks and carried criminal penalties for doctors who violated it.

But Sununu has also been the beneficiary of good timing. A strong national economy helped him to preside during a period when state government was often flush with cash. His management of the Covid-19 pandemic — a situation that put him in charge of distributing billions in federal aid without direct oversight by lawmakers — helped him stay popular with a broad swath of New Hampshire votes.

So has a media-savvy leadership style. Since winning election in 2016, he’s never faced a serious challenger. He’s sailed to reelection three times — most recently, securing 57% of the vote over his Democratic opponent, former state Sen. Tom Sherman. The latest University of New Hampshire poll found 64% of independent voters approved of his performance.

It’s not clear what the future might hold for Sununu. Asked by a reporter for WMUR about his plans Wednesday afternoon, he replied, with a laugh, “Is WMUR taking resumes and applications?”

“No, look, there’s no next,” Sununu continued. “What I’m going to do next is go back to work. I’m still governor for 18 months - there’s still a lot of work to do. It is a 24/7 job, the phone never, never stops ringing, so that’s going to be the nature of the job right up until the last day, and that’s just the way it is — and that’s great.”

Sununu didn’t rule out the possibility of endorsing one of the candidates running to replace him, though he said he’d need to see who lines up.

“I think as folks know, I’m never afraid to get behind candidates I believe strongly in, like any other citizen in the state,” he said.

More reading:

Growing Up Sununu: A Familiar Name Brings Both Benefits and Baggage to the Ballot

Sununu Narrowly Wins GOP Nomination for Governor, Picks Up Edelblut's Support

At 42, New Hampshire's Chris Sununu Will Be Youngest Governor in U.S.

Governor Sununu Takes Stock Of His First Year In Office - And Takes Your Questions

Passing on U.S. Senate run, Sununu announces bid for fourth term in governor's office

'The charm on the charm bracelet': Sununu makes friends as he rides political circuit

Warning that a crowded GOP field helps Trump, Sununu says he's not running for president — but he'll back the nominee

With his political career at a turning point, Sununu rides high on cable TV

The Primarily Politics newsletter: From the ballot box to your inbox!

* indicates required

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content