Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu has served in a variety of roles during his distinguished career, from engineer to governor to White House chief of staff to the host of CNN’s Crossfire. He and his wife, Nancy, even took on hog wrangling duties for a year in their town. (The pair were named honorary hog reeves in Hampton Falls, which means they were the go-to tandem for rounding up the town’s loose pigs.) But at 69, his latest post as chairman of the state Republican Party may prove to be one of the most challenging roles he’s played so far.
But Sununu isn’t backing down — not even close. Soon after last fall’s election, the man who was Chief of Staff for President George H.W. Bush went on the offensive. He offered strong criticism, a good portion of which was aimed directly at Gov. John Lynch and his Democratic counterparts, who Sununu says are guilty of overspending.
Governor Sununu On Why He Ran For State Party Chair:
Why did you decide to reenter the ring, so to speak?
Well, New Hampshire is really such a great state, and I saw it changing dramatically for the worse. I have kids and grandkids that I want to be able to enjoy the state and all the benefits of the state the same way I did. And I felt that if I didn’t get involved, it might never get restored to where it should be. I really do believe that over the last 10 to 12 years — now with the new administration coming in, it’ll be 12 out of 14 years of Democratic rule in the state — that the state really has lost a great deal. We’ve lost a lot of the quality of life. We’ve lost a lot of the aspects of local control which kept our citizens involved and self-governing. We’ve shifted power from cities and towns to Concord. And we have lost the fiscal discipline and the management discipline that made this a very well-run state that people really loved living in. It’s still a good state, but not as good as it used to be. It used to be a great state. And we have to try and help restore it. I saw that one of the biggest problems was that Democrats campaign well and govern terribly. But I also recognized that the problem was a problem within the Republican Party where we have not defined the difference between ourselves and the Democrats in a way that registered with the voters, and in a way that explained why the Republican traditional way of doing things really was done for the benefit of the state over the last half century.
Governor Sununu On The Republican Message:
Democrats seemed to have a coherent message across the board, and what I’m wondering, regardless of what the message is, [is] how are you going to have that Republican message be coherent here in New Hampshire?
Well, I think some of the problems Republicans had politically in the last election was a reflection of problems voters had across the country with what was going on in Washington. And in addition to that, I’m not sure that our presidential candidate, John McCain, ever crafted a message that resonated here in New Hampshire. So that was a big part, in my opinion, that was a big part of what happened politically. We did have problems within the state and we didn’t differentiate ourselves against the Democrats. The Democrats took the pledge and made people think they were committed to fiscal discipline, but in fact they have broken the pledge because there is an implicit part of the pledge that is a promise to govern wisely and efficiently and to spend within your means and within the level of state revenues that are available. And they have not done that. So I think Republicans can point out that failure, address how we can move forward with our philosophy to restore that balance and talk to voters about that.
Governor Sununu On The 2010 Election Cycle:
When you think about 2010, there are a number of races; is there a particular race, the governor’s office, the Statehouse...
No, we are truly targeting them all. The Senate race, Sen. Gregg has said he’s not running again, so the Senate race is an open Senate race. The two congressional races, the governor’s office, the state House of Representatives, the state Senate and the Executive Council.
When you think about Democrats, who is beatable?
Well, I think they’re all beatable. I think they’re all beatable. And you want to know something, they know it.
Do you see any particular Democrats who are vulnerable in 2010?
All of them. They all carry the burden of bad governance.