Donald Trump's anticlimactic announcement is out of the way. Now, in New Hampshire and across the country, all eyes have turned to Governor Chris Sununu as speculation begins on which door he will open next.
Door #1 - POTUS run. Since election day, Chris Sununu has hit every media source willing to listen, from Fox News to ABC with George Stephanopolous, and everywhere in between. Does he really want to run? There is no doubt that he thinks he's up to the challenge. And his outspoken criticism of Trump's announcement, saying "nobody's gonna care" is a strong indication that he plans on playing a big role in the the next campaign for President. The single biggest obstacle isn't money, vision, charisma, or chops - it's abortion. The GOP has never nominated a candidate for President who characterizes himself as "pro-choice" and who says "as long as i'm Governor we'll remain pro-choice". In fact, out of 17 major GOP candidates for President in 2016, none were "pro-choice". That doesn't mean he won't run but it will most definitely give him pause. Chris Sununu is smart and will not take on a kamikaze mission if he sees no path to victory.
Door #2 - RECORD 5th term as Governor. With his overwhelming victory last week, Sununu tied former Governor John Lynch as the longest serving governor with 4 terms. A potentially appealing path would be to continue governing New Hampshire successfully, play an important role as Governor of the First in the Nation Primary state in the 2024 race for POTUS, and then run for Governor again to break the record by winning 5 terms.
Door #3 - ?????. As Monty Hall made famous: "What is behind door #3?" If there is nothing else we have learned about Chris Sununu it's that he likes being an executive and in charge. Ultimately, as he told CNN, he decided against running for US Senate last year because he didn't want to be part of an institution where "You debate and talk. Nothing gets done." So, if not POTUS and not Governor, then what? Back to Waterville Valley as CEO? Doubtful. He loves politics so whatever it is he will not be leaving the public spotlight. Chris Sununu has developed many national relationships as Governor and those only enhance the existing relationships that his well connected political family have already established. He may not run for POTUS, but perhaps he will take a national leadership role lobbying for another presidential candidate. Sununu would certainly be a top, energetic surrogate for any candidate as a youthful and successful governor.
Sununu telegraphed his future to The Hill last week with an interesting comment saying, “Am I going to travel across this country and start hopefully inspiring a younger generation understand the benefits of good fiscal conservatism, the benefits of being smart about these issues and getting engaged in public service? Totally, I love doing that.”
Unlike 2021, when he was criticized for waiting too long to make a decision against running for US Senate, you can bet that Sununu will be making some kind of decision about his future after the legislative session in June of 2023. It will be a wild legislative session as Sununu is poised to work with the most closely divided House of Representatives in New Hampshire history, which currently stands at 200 Republicans and 199 Democrats with 12 recounts yet to be completed.
One thing is certain, Chris Sununu is too young, too successful and too ambitious to hang up his political cleats for retirement. And all signs point to his future being much bigger than the granite state of New Hampshire.