NH GOP in the State House Try to Block Sununu and Party Establishment Challengers
“Governor Sununu is going to do whatever it takes to protect Governor Sununu”
CONCORD, NH — New Hampshire Republicans are, yet again, in disarray.
In an effort to protect Governor Chris Sununu from challengers in 2024, Republican State Representative Joe Sweeney testified yesterday on HB 116, legislation that would increase the filing fees for statewide office — governor, U.S. Senate, and Congress — by 100 times — raising the cost to challenge Sununu in a gubernatorial race from $100 to a whopping $10,000.
On the same day, Republicans in the State House pushed HB 101, legislation that would end our long tradition of open primaries and force voters to choose which primary they want to vote in months in advance. This is yet another Sununu protection, as this bill would create a major obstacle for independents to vote against Sununu in a Republican primary.
House Democratic Leader Representative Matt Wilhelm slammed the bill for going against New Hampshire's strong tradition of retail politics, stating “I think it provides some real incumbent protection… We want to make sure our primaries are open and anybody can participate.”
As disdain for the governor within his own party continues to increase, fellow New Hampshire Republican candidates are calling out the bill for what it is — a panic play by Sununu in his allies.
Don Bolduc, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee last year, says the bill targets candidates like him and that “Governor Sununu is going to do whatever it takes to protect Governor Sununu. I’ve gotten to know him over the last four years and I know that is absolutely true.”
Thad Riley, a primary challenger for Sununu in 2022, stated the bill was “dead wrong for New Hampshire” and that New Hampshire Republicans are “busy protecting career politicians from upstart candidates like myself.”
While Sununu is spending most of his time building his national profile, buying ads, and gearing up for a potential presidential run, it’s clear that his hold on his party is slipping. All of his major 2022 endorsements, Chuck Morse in the U.S. Senate primary and George Hansel in the NH-02 primary, and all of his fellow top-of-the-ticket Republicans in the general election, were defeated handily. Now, he’s holding on for dear life and using his state legislative allies as a shield.
In response, NHDP Chair Ray Buckley released the following statement:
“This legislation is nothing but a transparent attempt to safeguard Chris Sununu from his own party. His grip on the voters is slipping, and now he’s desperate, flailing, and begging his state legislative cronies to save him. Sweeney knows that his own political career is dependent on Sununu’s success, so he’ll do anything the failing governor asks of him. Granite Staters, even their Republican base, see right through this sad display.”