A petition to get the state Republican Party to censure Gov. Chris Sununu is being circulated among Granite State GOP activists and legislators, with one of the organizers telling NHJournal it is getting a warm reception among the party’s base.
“People are excited to sign it. They want to send Sununu a message — they’ve had enough,” said Josh Whitehouse, a former Trump administration official. Whitehouse, who also served in the state legislature, organized a similar effort against then-state GOP chair Jennifer Horn in 2016.
“Sununu has done a lot to alienate himself from his own party’s base: the Republican legislation he’s vetoed, his anti-Trump statements, his attacks on the party. He’s driven away the Libertarians, the pro-Trump wing and, with his veto of the congressional districts, the party donors as well. They all feel like they’ve been sold a bill of goods.”
The resolution calling for Sununu’s censure calls out the incumbent governor for his vetoes and threatened vetoes of legislation including the congressional district maps, the bill to ban local schools from imposing mask mandates, and the parental-rights bill inaccurately labeled “New Hampshire’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill” by Granite State Democrats. (Read the entire petition here.)
There are 477 members on the state GOP committee, so a successful vote for censure would in theory require 239 supporters..
Asked about the petition, which sources say already has the support of at least 50 members of the GOP state committee, House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn) put the blame on Sununu.
“The governor just stabbed every Republican in the back last week with his veto barrage, and he’s still laughing about it. Does anyone believe he would care about being censured by Republicans? He is probably already gearing up right now to form his own party, anyway.”
During an interview on the NHJournal podcast over the weekend, Speaker Sherman Packard repeatedly used the word “disappointing” to describe the governor’s actions on GOP legislation.
Another member of House leadership who has been directly involved in negotiating with the governor and his administration said, “Based on the number of times Sununu lied to us directly, I’m not opposed to the effort.” This member believes Sununu’s threat to veto the parental rights bill, and his back-channel efforts to get the legislature to kill it — were the tipping point for many State House Republicans.
“Sununu cannot be trusted,” the legislator added.
Sununu remains wildly popular among rank-and-file Republican primary voters, according to the latest polls, and he’s one of the most popular governors in the country. But he has also inspired opposition in the legislature and among the Trump-friendly base. Rather than mending fences, Sununu has gone out of his way to provoke his fellow Republicans, including calling President Donald Trump “f***ing crazy” at the Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, D.C.
Sununu’s actions on the congressional district maps have been particularly puzzling to Granite State political insiders. Few voters care about the districts or “gerrymandering,” while having a solidly GOP congressional seat would be a boon for Republicans in a region of the country where federal election wins are few and far between.
“We’re sick of his bulls**t,” another legislator told NHJournal. “We have to fight back.”