Fundraising has never been Gov. Chris Sununu’s strongest suit.
While the popular Republican governor – who’s currently serving his fourth two-year term leading New Hampshire – has convincingly won his past two reelections, he’s never crushed it when it to comes to fundraising in any of his four gubernatorial victories.
That’s despite his well-known family name – he’s the son of former Gov. John H. Sununu, who later served as President George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff – and younger brother to former congressman and former Sen. John E. Sununu.
“I’m shockingly surprised at how easy the fundraising would be. The fundraising would not be the problem. There’s a lot of money out there. There’s a lot of folks that would get behind us early on if I were to create a committee or an exploratory committee,” Sununu said. “If we decide to do this, that’s actually the least of my worries.”
Sununu has mingled with top Republican financial contributors at a handful of donor gatherings and retreats across the country over the past six months.
The governor also said that he’ll make a decision on whether to jump into the race for the Republican presidential nomination by late June, following the conclusion of New Hampshire’s current legislative session and the signing of the state’s next biennium budget into law.
The governor made his comments as he took questions from Fox News and other news organizations during a press conference after Wednesday’s session of the state’s five-member Executive Council.
If Sununu launches a presidential campaign, he’ll join a growing field of contenders. At the top of that list is former President Donald Trump, who launched his third straight White House run in November and is the clear front-runner in the early GOP nomination polling.
Also in the race are: former U.N. Ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; former congressman and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; multimillionaire entrepreneur, best-selling author and conservative commentator Vivek Ramaswamy; Michigan businessman and 2022 gubernatorial candidate Perry Johnson; and conservative radio talk show host and former California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina is expected to announce his candidacy for president next Monday, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expected to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission next week. And former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to declare his candidacy in the coming weeks. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – who ran for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination – and Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, as well as former Reps. Mike Rogers of Michigan and Will Hurd of Texas, are also seriously mulling White House runs.
Sununu, a vocal Republican critic of Trump, has long argued that the former president, if nominated next year, will lose the general election. Asked if a growing field of GOP presidential rivals will only divide the opposition and allow Trump to capture the Republican nomination, Sununu said no.
“You can’t kind of tell people not to run. Whoever wants to run is going to run,” he added.
But Sununu said that “there is going to be a process of which it’s going to be narrowed down a lot more aggressively than it did in ’16,” pointing to the 2016 cycle when a crowded and divisive field of candidates opened the door to Trump’s nomination victory ahead of his White House win.
“Everyone understands that it just needs to narrow down, and my guess is that it will narrow down the end of the fall and as we go into early next year. And it will narrow down quickly. If you were going to tell me there’s going to be 10 or 12 people in the race through March and April of next year, yeah, that’s going to be a problem. But that’s not going to happen. That’s going to winnow down very quickly,” he said.
Asked by Fox News what his biggest concern would be if he launched a presidential campaign, the governor said that “the state comes first. Making sure, if we do this, all the pieces are in place to make sure, whatever needs there are, are going to be met. And that’s something I’m quite passionate about. We’re not going to walk away from this state. … I wouldn’t do anything that would put in the state in any sort of harm’s way.”
Pointing to Sununu’s out-of-state travel, the New Hampshire Democratic Party recently charged that the governor “has never viewed being the governor as anything but a stepping stone. At every opportunity, Chris Sununu has left Granite Staters in the dust to build his celebrity status.”