Union Leader: Kathleen Sullivan: Sununu stumbles again
THE SCRAMBLING, backpedaling and complaining from Gov. Chris Sununu and Executive Councilors Janet Stevens and Joe Kenney show the political hot water they find themselves in over the council’s refusal to fund three women’s health organizations.
Last week’s vote could sink their 2022 electoral prospects.
Stevens and Kenney, along with fellow Republicans Ted Gatsas and David Wheeler, rejected funding for services like birth control and cancer screenings. Providers said that the vote will result in higher costs for the low-income women who rely on these organizations for basic health care.
But the council capitulated to anti-choice groups that lobbied against the funding, even though the money could not be used for abortions.
Only Cinde Warmington, the council’s sole Democrat, voted for the funding.
At first, Sununu did not seem worried about the fallout. As Kevin Landrigan reported, Sununu decided it wasn’t worth wasting political capital trying to change anyone’s mind, saying, “it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Sununu probably wishes he could call that one back, as a flood of New Hampshire women and health care providers began voicing their outrage at his failure to fight for funding. They remembered that Sununu had voted against similar funding in the past. And it was just a few months ago that Sununu showed an equally milquetoast attitude over a “budget” bill that mandates any woman having an abortion for any reason to have a physically invasive ultrasound test to prove she is not 24 weeks pregnant.
Sununu said that the ultrasound was not his idea, and that while he supported restrictions on abortion included in the “budget” bill, he was not as “invested” in the ultrasound requirement. When asked if he would veto the bill over its lack of exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomaly, its ultrasound requirement and its criminal penalties for doctors, Sununu took umbrage. “Do you want me to scrap a $13,000,000,000 budget for this one item?”
Well, yes, governor. If you are pro-choice, as you falsely claim, or if you prioritized women’s health ahead of tax cuts for, oh, I don’t know, large out-of-state corporations, then you would have vetoed the budget.
And you would not be making like Doris Day singing “Que Sera Sera” over the family planning funding fiasco.
[...] The delegation stated that Sununu could have done more to control the outcome. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was blunt in her assessment: “This is not a pro-choice governor. This isn’t even a pro-woman governor.”
Suddenly, Sununu was not so blasé, and Stevens and Kenney scrambled to say they might reconsider their votes. Instead of taking responsibility for their prior decision, they blamed the Department of Health and Human Services for providing insufficient information. Sununu chimed in, saying that he would be happy to bring the contracts back to the council for a redo.
The folks at Health and Human Services, however, were not amenable to walking the plank. A DHHS spokesperson said the department contacted councilors a week in advance to address questions or concerns. At the council meeting, neither Stevens nor Kenney raised any issues.
Sununu, whose poll numbers fell like a first-time skier after the vote, tried to divert attention by attacking the congressional delegation, particularly targeting Sen. Maggie Hassan. [...]
Oh, the irony. Sununu has attacked the congressional delegation for years, repeatedly insisting they should be fired. The delegation’s response has always been measured. Yet when the delegation, after years of vitriol from the governor, counterpunched on an issue of great import to Granite State women, Sununu acted like a petulant child.
As for being in New Hampshire?
The day after Sununu’s tirade, his office announced he was flying to California for a few days to campaign for Republicans.
Maybe he would rather fly across the country than explain himself to the women of New Hampshire.
Read the entire op-ed at the Union Leader.