GOP Gov. Chris Sununu wins second term in New Hampshire
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Sununu defeated Democrat Molly Kelly on Tuesday to win a second term in New Hampshire, a state he claims has become the “gold standard” in multiple areas under his leadership.
Now 44, Sununu was the youngest governor in the nation when he took office in early 2017. But he argues that more significant legislation has passed during his tenure than under any other governor in the last two decades. He frequently touted the state’s strong economy and low unemployment rate, and progress made on combatting the opioid crisis and reforming the state’s mental health and child welfare systems.
“In two short years, we’ve gotten so much done in this state, and we left no one behind,” he told supporters at his victory party. “We worked hard. We worked across the aisle when we had to, we worked with our party, we worked with anybody who was willing to come forward and put forward good ideas.”
Sununu said the next two years will be “a little bit different,” because he’ll open the doors to his office even wider.
“Anybody who has ideas is invited to the table. Anybody who thinks they can move the ball forward, get results for the people of New Hampshire, come on in to the office. We are open arms to everybody. That is the difference we’re really trying to bring, not just to New Hampshire, but the example we’re hopefully sending to the rest of the country. You’ve got to work collaboratively, you gotta talk positively, you gotta bring people together and simply get stuff done.”
Kelly, a former state senator from Harrisville, argued that the economy wasn’t working for everyone. Seeking to become the third woman elected governor of New Hampshire, Kelly highlighted her background as a former single mother who put herself through college, and said she understands the struggles of New Hampshire families because she lived them. She set her campaign against the national backdrop of the ”#MeToo” movement, and said Sununu could not be counted on to protect women’s reproductive rights.
“I will continue to fight for women and for women’s reproductive rights. We cannot go backwards, and the energy I’ve seen and felt across New Hampshire throughout this campaign has truly been incredible,” she told supporters. “Even though we did come up short tonight, please don’t be discouraged, we can still make a difference, each and every one of us every single day. We can make New Hampshire the state we believe it should be, and one that treats its residents fairly with dignity and respect.”
Kelly also criticized Sununu on the issue of paid family medical leave, which he once referred to as “vacation.” Though he said he supported the concept, Sununu opposed a bill that ultimately failed in the Legislature this session because he said it was financially unsustainable. He didn’t offer a plan of his own at the time but recently outlined a proposal that involves bringing in private insurers to offer plans to state and private-sector workers.
But New Hampshire voters rarely deny a first-term governor a second term. Only two governors in the last 100 years who sought re-election lost after one term: Democrat Fred Brown in 1924 and Republican Craig Benson in 2004. Sununu himself is the son of a former governor, John H. Sununu, who served three terms in the 1980s.
Chris Hartman, an insurance analyst from Concord, said he voted for fellow Democrats but made an exception for Sununu.
“That’s sort of the way it is in New Hampshire for the governor’s races, whether it’s Democratic or Republican, once they have a shot at it, if things don’t fall apart, they tend to stay in office,” he said.
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