Nikki Haley has “Stand for America.”
Mike Pence has “Advancing American Freedom.”
Now Gov. Chris Sununu has “Live Free or Die,” his own national 501(c)(4) that can raise money to fund his travels promoting “New Hampshire’s Live Free or Die Spirit,” NBC News reports.
Haley and Pence have been using their committees to promote their political ideas, almost certainly in advance of entering the 2024 GOP presidential primary. In fact, Haley is scheduled to make her formal announcement and then campaign in New Hampshire next week.
Is this a sign Sununu is likely to follow?
Sununu’s interest in a possible presidential bid is hardly a secret. He has been a regular presence on cable news for weeks, repeatedly acknowledging he is considering getting into the race. In December, his state committee even ran Facebook ads in Iowa and South Carolina.
He is currently in Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association Winter Meeting. There are reports he is also meeting Republicans who might be interested in seeing Sununu enter the race.
Asked about the new committee, Sununu released a statement:
“I’m excited to talk about the successes that we’ve had in New Hampshire lowering taxes, creating educational choices for parents and kids, and building opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive. What we’ve done in New Hampshire is a great model for the federal government – specifically promoting the conservative tenets of limited government, local control, and individual responsibility.”
One person who likes the idea is Meredith resident Brian McCabe, managing partner at DC-based DCI Group. McCabe, and Bedford resident Craig Stevens, also at DCI, are volunteering their time to help Sununu.
McCabe and Stevens hosted an informal meet and greet for Governor Sununu, last night in Washington, DC, with more than 75 center-right people on hand.
“As someone who splits his time between New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., I see the need for generational change within the Republican Party,” McCabe said. “I’m really proud of the work that Gov. Sununu has done to create educational options for kids and grow our economy – all while lowering taxes. Sununu has an optimistic vision and message to share, and I’m proud to do anything I can to help him.”
UNH political science professor Dante Scala said Sununu’s decision to create a national organization is a logical next step toward a 2024 candidacy.
“To be a presidential candidate, you need message, money, and momentum. Sununu has been road-testing the first. Now he’s getting to work on the second,” Scala said.
However, Greg Moore at Americans for Prosperity — New Hampshire notes that a 501(c)(4) can’t be used for express advocacy of a candidate. For that, Sununu would want a Super PAC or 527 organization. As a result, he said, assuming this news means Sununu has decided to run may be premature.
“We don’t know what his future goals or ambitions may be,” Moore said. “He may want to influence policy, like AFP or Planned Parenthood do. That’s what this organization can do. What it can’t do is spread the message ‘vote for Sununu.’ A 501(c)(4) has a lot more utility to Sununu before he gets into the race than it will if he decides to run.”
Veteran GOP strategist Jim Merrill, a veteran of multiple presidential campaigns, says Sununu appears to be leaning toward taking the plunge.
“The governor is doing everything a potential national candidate would be doing right now, and he’s clearly getting a positive response. If you were using a Magic 8 Ball regarding a potential Sununu candidacy, it would say ‘Signs Point to Yes.'”