Gov. Chris Sununu weighed in on the Matt Mowers 2016 voting controversy on Wednesday, and he weighed down the 2020 GOP nominee’s efforts to push past this issue.
Talking to reporters after the Executive Council meeting Tuesday, Sununu said he is waiting for the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office to complete its review of the situation, InDepthNH reported.
“I know that the Attorney General is looking into it so I probably will wait to see what potentially comes of that. I don’t know all the details and I think that is what they are looking into,” Sununu said.
Mowers has acknowledged voting in the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary while working for Gov. Chris Christie, then voting in the New Jersey contest four months later after re-locating to work for the Trump campaign after Christie dropped out.
“Our Election Law team is aware of the Associated Press report and is reviewing the matter,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
Asked about the issue, Sununu said, “My sense is there are laws against it. I think there are federal laws that prevent it.”
Federal election law experts like former Department of Justice official J. Christian Adams say Mowers did not break the law, while others say the issue is “murky.” And even Mowers’ critics concede the statute of limitations has long passed.
Regardless, Mowers is paying a political price as his primary opponents and the Democratic Party attack the First Congressional District front-runner.
Granite State Republicans noted Sununu’s decision to raise doubts about Mowers’ actions.
“Sununu just threw Mowers an anchor,” one GOP strategist texted NHJournal.
Democrats were delighted by Sununu’s statement.
“Sununu Sours on Mowers” was the headline on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) press release. “Gov. Sununu endorsed and cut an ad for Mowers last cycle — now he’s not willing to defend Mowers’ indefensible actions. It’s brutal out here.”
Mowers was in damage-control mode, appearing on the NHJournal podcast to explain his actions at length, and joining radio host Jack Heath’s show Wednesday morning.
“Here’s the truth: I moved for work and I voted where I lived,” Mowers said. “It’s perfectly legal, and the only people insinuating otherwise are Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.”
Mowers blamed the “left-wing media” and primary opponents who he claims are desperate to score points as they trail in the polls.
“These attacks show Democrats are more confident than ever that I’m going to be the nominee,” Mowers added.
His primary opponents are hardly ready to concede. Gail Huff Brown seized the opportunity to release an election integrity plan. Among the bullet points: Removing the statute of limitations on voter fraud and increasing the penalties.
“We should have simple rules that make voting easy and cheating hard,” Huff Brown said. “I’m excited to announce the priorities that I will fight for in Congress to strengthen the integrity of our elections and ensure that cheaters pay the price for their crime against our democracy.”
Privately, Republicans are grumbling over what they see as yet another Sununu move to make winning the 1st District a harder lift. GOP activists are still angry over the governor’s decision to kill the congressional district maps the legislature had negotiated to create a Republican-leaning district in deep-blue New England.
“If he’d just signed the damn bill, the issue would be forgotten already,” one House Republican groused. “Now he’s kicking our candidates.”
Another Republican forwarded NHJournal a tweet sent by House Majority Leader Jason Osborne after Sununu announced he was killing the maps last month: “No ‘I’ in ‘Team.’”