Gov. Chris Sununu says Democratic incumbent Rep. Annie Kuster is a “Democrat Socialist,” and he predicts she’ll be defeated in the expected red-wave midterm election.
Sununu made the comments during an interview released Tuesday on the ‘In Trump’s Shadow’ podcast hosted by journalist David Drucker. Sununu was asked about Granite State GOP legislative anger over his decision to veto Republican-drawn congressional district maps, allowing the courts to leave them largely unchanged.
Sununu defended his decision by pointing to Kuster’s upcoming election.
“We have Annie Kuster, this Democrat Socialist who represents our Second District. She has popularity ratings well underwater. I think 53 percent in the latest poll said, ‘she’s gotta go.’ And that’s in a Democrat-leaning district. Why would I give her a job for life?”
Referring to Keene Mayor George Hansel, Sununu added, “we have a candidate there who is going to win.”
Sununu also predicted a Hansel win when he filed to run for re-election on Friday. “Sorry, but Annie Kuster’s going to be fired this coming November,” he said.
The maps Sununu vetoed would have given Republicans an advantage in the First Congressional District and Democrats the edge in the Second District. The state has an all-Democratic delegation, and Democrats have won nine of the last ten congressional elections.
Sununu argued that the current districts are competitive and that he has made them more so.
“What I have done is made the state much more competitive for Republicans,” Sununu said on the podcast. “The Cook [Political] Report, for the first time, has the Second CD as a toss-up. We’ve never had that. It’s always been a safe Democrat [district]. It’s now a toss-up seat, because I’m supporting Republicans across the state.”
The maps drawn by the GOP House would have likely put the Second District out of reach for Republicans, even in a GOP-trending year like 2022. By vetoing their maps, Sununu kept it at least theoretically in play for his party.
At the same time, critics note, the current district can hardly be considered “competitive.” Going back to the midterms of 2006, Democrats have carried the Second District by an average of eight points (53-45 percent).
And so, while the Cook Political Report did take the unusual step of rating the Democrat-friendly Second District as a toss-up this fall, House Republicans like Rep. Ross Berry, who helped draw the vetoed maps, scoff at Sununu’s attempt to take credit.
“He didn’t do that. Joe Biden did that. Eight percent inflation did that. Five-dollar a gallon gas did that. How did Sununu vetoing our maps do anything?”
Sununu said his decision to veto New Hampshire’s maps was also a response to gridlock in national government.
“I think one of the greatest problems in Washington is that there are too many places in this country where the Republican [district] is locked up, or the Democrat is locked up, and what happens? They only face a threat from their base in a primary because they know they’re not going to lose the general [election].
“And so Democrats tend to go even further left. And what happens to constituent service? They’re not calling you back. They’re not engaging with citizens. They’re not doing their job because, guess what? We’ve created a system where they don’t have to anymore,” Sununu said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee apparently thinks Sununu is onto something. On Tuesday they added Kuster’s district to their list of “frontline” incumbent-protection program for vulnerable members.
The governor was also asked about the influence he believes Donald Trump is likely to have in the Granite State’s elections this cycle, and the former president’s record of success in GOP primary endorsements.
“Picking winners isn’t making winners,” Sununu responded.
As for the power of Trump’s endorsements, Sununu said he’s “as influential as any former president, as is to be expected.”
“Is it a make-or-break deal? No, no, not at all. Voters appreciate him, they appreciate what he brings to the table. But at the end of the day, they want to vote for their candidates.”