Chris Sununu, American Conservation Coalition
Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) at the American Conservation Coalition's 2022 Summit in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Putting personal ambition aside, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has said he would not seek the Republican presidential nomination at this time.

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Putting personal ambition aside, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has said he would not seek the Republican presidential nomination at this time because stopping Donald Trump is more important, and a crowded field of contenders would benefit the former president most of all.

First and foremost, that tells us that Sununu, who is one of the nation’s most popular governors, is good at math. Of course, it doesn’t take a Fields Medal winner to calculate that his odds of winning the nomination would have been extremely slim, so why not spare himself the embarrassment, gather good will among sane Republicans, and run in 2028?

But let’s assume that altruism and not arithmetic is the key factor in this decision.

That’s certainly what Sununu wants us to believe.

“If [Trump] is the nominee, Republicans will lose again. Just as we did in 2018, 2020 and 2022. This is indisputable, and I am not willing to let it happen without a fight,” the governor wrote in a rather remarkable editorial in the Washington Post on Monday that lays out why the former president is a liability.

For example, Sununu notes that Trump failed to “deliver on his promises to drain the swamp, secure the border and instill fiscal responsibility while in office.” At a time when Republicans are trying to blame Democrats for the country’s fiscal woes, the governor points out that Trump added $8 trillion to the national debt. In addition, Sununu noted that the former president is facing a variety of investigations and that he “continues to peddle the conspiracy theory that he won the 2020 election, repelling independents.”

What is most remarkable about this editorial is not the intellectual or moral clarity he displays, but rather that there are still high-ranking Republicans willing to call out Trump in no uncertain terms.

Sununu is probably right in saying that he can have a greater impact from the sidelines. After all, he is the governor of the state in which the first primary is held. As such, his endorsement will clearly be highly coveted and could go a long way toward giving one of Trump’s challengers a boost.

However, Sununu is not just calling out the former president but also the people who have already declared their candidacy for the Republican nomination or are thinking about it.

“We must not be complacent, and 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,” Sununu wrote, adding, “No one can stop candidates from entering this race, but candidates with no path to victory must have the discipline to get out. Anyone polling in the low single digits by this winter needs to have the courage to hang it up and head home.”

Who Will Sununu Pick?

That begs the question of who Sununu thinks should be the sole Trump challenger.

Parsing the words in the editorial gives us some clues.

“We need to expand beyond the culture wars that alienate independents, young voters and suburban moms,” he writes, which sounds like a dig at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who views himself as America’s culture warrior extraordinaire. Later, Sununu also talks about how it’s bad for Republicans to ban books, and that’s kinda DeSantis’s thing, so we can definitely rule out the Florida governor.

Sununu is probably also not thinking about backing former Vice President Mike Pence, who declared his candidacy on the same day the governor bowed out. Why? Well, because he is Mike Pence, and it’s hard to think of a politician less likely to win the Republican nomination than he is. Well, maybe Hillary Clinton.

Among the candidates not polling in the single digits, that doesn’t leave many choices – former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (SC), and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Scott probably most fits the bill of someone who is running to be vice president, so we can cross him off the list.

The last two probably most fit the bill of the kind of candidate who Sununu talks about when he says Republicans need to “offer an optimistic blueprint” on issues that matter to voters.

So, who to choose between these two? Interestingly enough, both of them are Indian Americans. However, one of them seems more Indian, and while that obviously should not matter, there is a decent chance that a subsection of Republican primary voters isn’t crazy about voting for a dude named Vivek Ramaswamy.

Therefore, in the end, our money is on Haley, who is not only “less Indian” but also much more of a known quantity and has an actual resume of accomplishment.

And, who knows, if she does win the nomination, which seems unlikely, then she can make Sununu her running mate.

So, as a public service to our readers, this is your chance to register or and then make a ton of money by selling those websites next spring.

You are welcome.



  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a senior editor for Politics and director of the Mentor Apprentice Program at WhoWhatWhy. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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