Gov. Chris Sununu denounced calls from New Hampshire Democrats to eliminate the Electoral College as “the worst idea I’ve heard for the state of New Hampshire,” during a Thursday press conference.
The Electoral College became a 2020 campaign issue when frontrunners in the Democratic presidential primary like former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren began talking up the idea. (Joe Biden has been noncommittal.)
On Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas suggested he would support eliminating it during an NHPR debate with his GOP challenger, Matt Mowers. And while Pappas has carefully avoided giving a direct answer to the question (his campaign repeatedly refused to comment when asked by NHJournal), the state’s two U.S. senators are open about wanting to end it.
Sununu has a slightly different view.
“Let me be unequivocal in saying eliminating the Electoral College is probably the worst idea I’ve ever heard for the state of New Hampshire. It is a disaster,” Sununu told NHJournal on Thursday. “And that is not for Republicans or Democrats or independents, that’s for all 1.35 million of us who have a national voice in terms of the leadership of this country.”
The Electoral College was designed by the Founders to bring some balance between large and small states in the process of picking a national executive. For politicians in a small state like New Hampshire to back it is counterintuitive.
And there are real questions about how much N.H. Democratic support is lip service to the party’s progressive base as opposed to a commitment to amend the U.S. Constitution.
When a bill to put New Hampshire into the National Popular Vote compact and end-run the Electoral College came before a committee in the Democratic-controlled House last year, it was voted down 20-0. And Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Dan Feltes also supports the EC system.
Still, a recent Hill-HarrisX poll found a slim majority (51 percent) of Americans in favor of getting rid of the Electoral College. And it’s popular idea on the liberal editorial page of the Concord Monitor.
“It’s important that New Hampshire have a national voice, that we understand our electoral votes are very important. Otherwise, we’re essentially giving our power to the large cities — to the Bostons, to the New Yorks, to the Chicagos and the San Franciscos. We’ll get completely lost in the mix,” Sununu said.
“If we got rid of the Electoral College, you’d never have another presidential candidate walk through our doors,” Sununu added. “It’s appalling that anybody would support such an idea, frankly.”
Sununu said the Electoral College might be more important to New Hampshire than any other state because of the First in the Nation primary, and it shouldn’t take a back seat to national partisanship.
“This is not a political issue from a Republican and Democrat standpoint. Anyone supporting getting rid of the Electoral College has to really re-think whether they are part of a national movement, or whether they’re going to put the considerations and the voice of our citizens first and foremost.”