Biggest NH campaign questions of 2022
New Hampshire’s biggest political moment in 2021 set the stage for campaign drama in 2022.
After nearly a year of anticipation, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu instantly made headlines not only in Granite State, but across the country, announcing in early November that he would run for a fourth term as as governor in 2022.
Sununu’s decision to seek another two-year term as head of state rather than challenge Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan – her predecessor as governor – instantly had an impact on the political landscape of New Hampshire in the past. approaching the new year, including the elections for the governor and the senator.
The governor’s announcement immediately took what would have been one of the most expensive, competitive and consistent senatorial races in the 2022 midterm elections and moved it, at least temporarily, off the list. A to list B. Sununu’s move also turned what likely would have been an open gubernatorial showdown with contested primaries for both main parties into – for now – a much more sleepy campaign.
Let’s start with the race for the Senate.
Senate Republicans need a net gain of a single seat in the mid-term of 2022 to regain the house majority they lost a year ago, when they were swept away in the election double tour of January 5, 2021 in Georgia. As the GOP defends 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs in 2022, including five open seats, they see four Democratic senators in highly competitive general election battlefield states as vulnerable. And thanks to his lackluster vote for most of 2021, Hassan was one of four.
While the 2021 University of New Hampshire final investigation gave the senator good news, Hassan and his party face historic headwinds in the 2022 election as the party that controls the White House has traditionally suffered setbacks during the mid-terms that followed. To make matters worse, Democrats across the country will have an agreement with an unfavorable political environment that is made worse by President Joe Biden’s underwater approval ratings.
Hassan, as first-term governor in 2014, was re-elected in another cycle that was horrific for Democrats, and she came out on top in a successful battle with the then senator. Kelly Ayotte in 2016. Can the senator survive what could become a tough third election in a row?
Veteran New Hampshire political scientist Dante Scala said a big question in the New Year is whether “Hassan has any other outfit politically.”
“Maybe there will be a big rebound for President Joe Biden, but if he doesn’t bounce back politically, will Hassan be able to distance himself from the president?” asked Scala, professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire.
While some senior Republican strategists in Washington have called Sununu’s decision – their main recruiting prospect – “a huge disappointment,” the National Republican Senate Committee still sees Hassan as vulnerable next year against the right candidate. .
That candidate won’t be Ayotte, who was beaten by Hassan by a very slim margin of just over 1,000 votes in 2016. Nor will it likely be former GOP Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who moved. in New Hampshire and approached defeating Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen in 2014.
There is only one Republican who is a declared candidate in the Senate race. Retired General Don Bolduc, who unsuccessfully ran for the GOP nomination for the 2020 Senate, launched his campaign in November 2020.
In the nearly two months since Sununu’s announcement, there has been a lot of speculation – but no announcement – that other Republicans will be making offers. New Hampshire Senate Speaker Chuck Morse, Londonderry City Director Kevin Smith, and Chief Investment and Media Officer and 2010 Senate nominee Bill Binnie have all confirmed that they are seriously considering running. The National Education Commission and former gubernatorial candidate Frank Edelblut is also considering a campaign for the Senate.
“If this is a low barrier to entry and if Hassan continues to appear vulnerable, why wouldn’t there be several candidates,” Scala noted. “Unless the political environment improves for Democrats, it might not take a candidate A to beat Hassan. “
In the 2022 gubernatorial race, when an open seat would have potentially attracted a largely open and overcrowded group of Democrats, the number of potential candidates hoping to face Sununu declined dramatically.
A handful of Democratic strategists have indicated Senator Tom Sherman will be the most likely candidate for their party’s governor next year.
“The sooner the better, but I can’t rush the process,” Sherman told the To watch last month, asked about his timing to decide on a gubernatorial candidacy.
“I will continue to do all of my hard work in the meantime, both legislate and fundraise, and continue to have discussions that I need before I make a final decision,” Rye’s gastroenterologist and member of foreground and former chair of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee added.
Sununu’s declining approval ratings in the polls give Democrats hope for 2022. The governor’s once-very high numbers have descended from the stratosphere. It got 56% approval in the October poll from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center and 52% in the December survey from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
As Sununu’s poll figures point in the wrong direction, Scala noted that “the national political environment needs to improve for Democrats to give someone like Sherman a shot.”
Another question surrounding Sununu’s re-election in 2022 centers on the burning issue of abortion.
New Hampshire Democrats are following through on their vow to make the governor pay a political price for signing a state budget – a budget Republicans have touted as the most conservative in decades – which includes a ban on abortions after 24 weeks of gestation and compulsory ultrasounds for all women before the termination of a pregnancy. They are also targeting Sununu for GOP-dominated Executive Council votes to deny family planning funding to abortion providers.
Looking ahead to November, will abortion be a major issue in the 2022 elections?
That remains to be determined, with the nation likely awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in late June that could potentially weaken abortion rights.
“It’s an issue that galvanizes the Democratic base, especially women with college degrees,” Scala said. “The question becomes once you get past them, will this become a problem for the convincing people, will it displace the independents?” “