DSCC - John H Sununu: NH "Doesn't Look Kindly At External Meddling"

Ayotte is perceived in some circles as the early favorite considering the support she's received from prominent Republicans in Washington, where she's attended fundraisers. But Sununu reiterated he put the word out "that New Hampshire doesn't look kindly at external meddling."


Sununu: The GOP will benefit from angry voters

Fosters Daily Democrat


EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is the result of an interview at Foster's Daily Democrat Tuesday afternoon. The newspaper occasionally conducts such interviews with major political figures in the state.

DOVER — New Hampshire GOP Chairman John H. Sununu feels Republicans are angry, peeved that Democrats have gotten away with poor budgeting while special-interest money has lured lawmakers to move the state away from its core values. And that's fine by him — the anger part, that is.

"There is an energy and a little bit of an anger and an interest among the party and people who have never even been part of the party because they see what is happening in Concord," he said.

He's not concerned the anger will derail party efforts to showcase its differences from Democrats in the 2010 election. "You know, I think one of the last things Louis XIV kept telling his people was that the anger of the people will turn the people toward us," he said.

The former governor sat down with Foster's Daily Democrat editors Tuesday, confident Republicans have learned from past mistakes and will be in a strong position to reclaim power.

Sununu wouldn't go so far as to anoint any of the candidates actively exploring a run — or those said to be mulling one — as the party savior, and he defended those who have run for office before against impressions they'll have trouble gaining traction.
Audio Excerpts

"They're not reruns. I won't accept that premise," he told editors. Ultimately "it's the primary that's got to decide — not me."

Declared and prospective candidates for U.S. House and Senate have been making the rounds, and "three or four really good candidates" are considering running for governor.

Among them are Bruce Keogh, who ran for the office in 2002, former N.H. Health Commissioner John Stephen, Ed Dupont, chairman of the University System of New Hampshire board of trustees, and Portsmouth businessman and former congressional candidate Sean Mahoney, who's announced he's exploring a Senate run.

Sununu said he didn't mention Dover's Jack Kimball because the businessman has announced he is running.

If he and others all run for Senate, Mahoney would square off against Manchester attorney Ovide Lamontagne, the party's 2002 gubernatorial candidate, Rye businessman Bill Binnie, Hollis businessman Jim Bender and former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, who's set up an exploratory campaign but, Sununu said, will definitely launch a full-scale bid.

"I'm positive," he said. "I've talked to her and frankly the nice thing about that field is they like each other, and so they've talked to each other and there's a good commitment ... that it's going to be a positive primary, that they're going to run against the Democrats."

In other words, it won't be a repeat of the bitter 2008 feud between Stephen and state Sen. Jeb Bradley, the former congressman who squared off against the ex-commissioner a second time in hopes of reclaiming his House seat.

"Infighting in a party is a luxury that belongs only to the supermajority," Sununu said, "and as soon as we become the supermajority I promise we'll have a violent food fight. But until then we're running as a unified party and so far people are buying into it and committing to it."

Ayotte is perceived in some circles as the early favorite considering the support she's received from prominent Republicans in Washington, where she's attended fundraisers. But Sununu reiterated he put the word out "that New Hampshire doesn't look kindly at external meddling."

Sununu said the party can reverse recent Democrat-favoring election cycles "with a smart, well organized" party "with good candidates and enthusiasm among its supporters" — even if, as he conceded, "we can't match" the opposition's fundraising prowess.

"We cannot surpass it, because they have made a commitment at the national level, by the (Democratic National Committee), and by the congressional and Senate committees on the Democratic side, to pump money in here and we've just been unable to get a matched enthusiasm for that from our national committees," he said.

As a result, thousands of dollars have been pumped into state House seats that traditionally require a few hundred dollars for campaigns while some Senate campaigns have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

"We were targeted in the last at least two elections by radical left money with radical left agenda," Sununu said. "It was not an accident that Republicans lost heavily in those two cycles."

But, he said, times are again changing: Republicans no longer have to worry about the "Texas style" of a president of their own party hurting their prospects at home; and, even though it may not happen by the next election, Democratic-leaning uninsured young people who haven't had to worry about fiscal matters will "wake up one day" and realize health care reform means they'll have to pay $3,800 into the system, which will only worsen the deficit and leave them having to pay up to $350,000 more in personal income taxes over their lives.

Above all, GOP candidates will hammer their opposition over reckless spending, Sununu said. Democrats "got smart" when they started pledging opposition to a sales or income tax.

"We have to make it clear that there's more to the pledge than just no sales tax or an income tax," he said. "There's implicit in it that you don't look for every tax under the table. Instead ... you have some discipline on the spending side. There's no budget that can't be held flat — there's no budget that can't be cut."