Guest post by Patrick Hynes. This piece first appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader and is reposted here with permission.
GOVERNOR SUNUNU has been an effective and popular leader here at home, and as he takes his show on the road to share New Hampshire’s success story with other states his commonsense approach and upbeat disposition are attracting a fair amount of attention. It’s time to start thinking of Governor Chris Sununu as a serious potential candidate for President of the United States. And it’s okay for Granite Staters to get excited about the idea.
If we were to construct a model of an ideal Republican presidential candidate, that person would undoubtedly be someone outside of the D.C. swamp, a governor in other words. They would be youngish; someone who offers fresh relief from the septuagenarian standoffs that have dominated our national politics for the past decade. They would present a forwardthinking and optimistic vision of the future untethered to the grievance and revenge politics that characterize the national debate in the 21st century. And they would have an unassailable record of accomplishment in service to people from all walks of life, not just their fellow partisans.
Chris Sununu not only fits that description, he is the yardstick by which we could measure any presidential aspirant against these criteria.
“A demeanor like Sununu’s is the remedy for what ails our national politics these days,” I wrote in this column way back in 2020.” Consider Sununu the anti-Trump. Optimistic, gregarious and ebullient, Sununu shows none of the belligerence that toxifies Washington every day. His jovial smile is a welcome break from Donald Trump’s brooding snarl or Joe Biden’s squinty, puzzled visage.”
Speaking as a grumpy right winger, who grows only grumpier as the years go on, I nevertheless long for the days when presidents were actually likeable people. Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes, and Barack Obama were all likeable. Heck, even Bill Clinton knew the value of faking likeability.
Beltway insiders will tell you that Joe Biden was a very popular and convivial U.S. Senator in his time. But he has long since abandoned likeability for cut-and-paste liberal class warfare and over-the-top race baiting. And whatever appeal Donald Trump still enjoys, it is certainly not due to his likeability.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who you liked?
That kind of appeal would expand the electoral map for Republicans. His favorability consistently hovers around 70% in a purple state with an all-Democratic federal delegation. He generally enjoys majority support among even Democratic voters. He would put states like Maine, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Minnesota in play; not to mention New Hampshire’s four electoral votes.
Sununu can put his record of accomplishment up against any politician on the national stage. None of his budgets, over six years, have raised taxes on anyone. In fact, his
policies of tax cuts for small and large employers have filled state coffers with new revenues. He vetoed a Democratic income tax and stopped a 17-cent per gallon gas tax increase.
Under his stewardship, New Hampshire has introduced and expanded education options for working class families. The state’s Education Freedom Accounts program is wildly popular and is helping regular people who cannot afford private school explore opportunities beyond the outdated government-school-only model. Last week Sununu proposed doubling the funding for this invaluable program during his budget address.
These achievements will appeal to conservatives.
Other Sununu accomplishments would appeal to voters outside the conservative bubble. He created the first paid family leave program in the state’s history. He increased spending by $140 million. He has instituted several programs to address the state’s urgent housing crisis. And he has restocked New Hampshire’s Rainy Day Fund, demonstrating a level of fiscal prudence that is in short supply in Washington these days.
The current condition of our national politics is sad, embarrassing really. Politicians representing extreme poles scream at one another during choreographed media events while their staffs urgently email and text out fundraising appeals celebrating the latest dunk on the opposition. The word tiresome doesn’t begin to describe it.
This silly game show ignores the 80 percent of Americans who simply want a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities. They deserve something better. Governor Sununu has created something special here in the Granite State. He ought to consider expanding his scope to the rest of the nation. He should give serious consideration to running for the Presidency of the United States.
Patrick Hynes is the president of Novus Public Affairs. He can be found on Twitter @patjhynes.