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The governor’s decision not to run for the U.S. Senate shows his refreshing common sense

Watching Gov. Chris Sununu’s Nov. 9 news conference, at which he announced he wouldn’t run for the U.S. Senate and would instead seek a fourth gubernatorial term, it struck this writer what an intelligent and refreshing explanation was unfolding. Sununu has always been energetic, bright and enthusiastic, but this performance may have been his best. What Sununu said, in essence, was that he wanted to be himself instead of what politicians and assumptions painted him to be.

Sununu concluded, after a lot of pressure and consultation, that he did not want to go into the Washington swamp, which he has criticized, stating that “it turned out I was right.” He also said that, after talking to governors who became senators, the ability that governors have to cause change and make things happen was often replaced by measuring accomplishment often by doing nothing.

What also was refreshing is that this relatively young man, with a growing family, undoubtedly recognized that it was better for his family to stay put and enjoy growing up in New Hampshire than move to Washington or have a largely absentee father.

These conclusions demonstrate good sense and personal responsibility, rather than political ambition at the expense of what is really important in life.

Of course, given criticism of him from the right and the natural opposition by Democrats, just being willing to serve for another term does not guarantee Sununu a fourth term — which only John Lynch has managed in recent times. Whatever the outcome, Sununu demonstrated that he is a man of judgment, character and values.

Immediately after Sununu’s decision was announced, speculation about who would run for the GOP Senate nomination became intense, with former senators Kelly Ayotte and Scott Brown announcing they would not be running. Don Bolduc, a retired general, is the only announced candidate, with speculation about former Trump campaign aide Corey Lewandowski and several New Hampshire politicians who had been assumed to be looking at the governorship before Sununu announced.

While the GOP nationally identified Sen. Maggie Hassan as vulnerable to Sununu, the situation has changed significantly and is probably more of an uphill battle for others against the incumbent. It would be good for the GOP and the state if a senior, credible official or businessperson, not a recent transplant or fringe political hack, would step forward so the race with Hassan would be between worthy opponents.

At the same time all this was going on, the House Election Law Committee came up with its redistricting plan for the two congressional districts.

Rather than respect historical patterns and make minor adjustments to equalize population, the plan took a lot of the easternmost communities in the Seacoast, which tend to vote Democratic, and through some fancy drawing, connected them to the 2nd District. Also, some heavily Republican towns in southwestern Rockingham County were added to the 1st District.

Both moves accomplished the assumedly political goal of creating a 1st District that tilts towards the GOP and made the 2nd District, in recent years more Democratic, even more so. This instantly raised objections from good government people who had argued for an independent commission to draw districts, and criticism about gerrymandering to have preordained results, rather than having competitive swing districts.

While those criticisms are valid, the real question for this lifelong Republican is why a GOP-controlled committee would concede one of the congressional districts to the Democrats, when, for most of history, both districts have had the potential to be swing districts?

In any event, the process is far from over, with the Senate still to be heard from, the potential of a gubernatorial veto and possible court challenges.

Finally, politics lately has existed in an environment of TV attack ads in a non-election year, straining credulity to the breaking point. Ads asking us to contact one or another official and tell them to vote for or against the proposals in Congress blatantly mischaracterize what are in the proposals and are obvious attempts to cast officeholders in a good or bad light. The ads raise the question of how stupid those running the ads think we all are and point out the danger of too much money being available for spending by unknown “committees” without accountability.

So, depending on which aspects of current politics are considered, political events lately have either been refreshing or depressing. Maybe both.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Brad Cook is a Manchester attorney. The views expressed in this column are his own. He can be reached at

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