Sununu backs Morse in U.S. Senate race

·3 min read

Sep. 8—CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu on Thursday endorsed Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, for the U.S. Senate, saying he had an "unmatched" record of accomplishment over two decades at the State House.

Sununu, 47, made the announcement at the Bridges House mansion here, hours before Morse faced his four major Republican rivals in the final and only televised primary debate on WMUR.

"For the sake of this great state we have to defeat Maggie Hassan in November, and the best candidate to do that is Chuck Morse," said Sununu, who was joined by Morse, his wife, Susan, and daughter, Emma.

In recent weeks, Sununu has been critical of Morse's strongest opponent, retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc of Stratham, who has been leading in the polls.

Sununu said Bolduc was not a "serious" candidate and espoused conspiracy theories.

But Sununu stressed Thursday "any Republican" can defeat Hassan and he would support whoever wins Tuesday's primary.

"I will vote for the Republican ticket up and down this November; that is what is going to make a change," Sununu said.

Sununu said Morse and he would make a "perfect ticket," which would deliver Republican victories up and down the ballot this fall.

"You can talk about issues or you can get stuff done. Chuck Morse has been there every day of our record of success here in New Hampshire," Sununu said.

Morse, 61, said Sununu's work has helped position New Hampshire's economy as the "envy of the Northeast."

"Together we've cut taxes, expanded educational freedom, supported our law enforcement, and made historic improvements to our water infrastructure," Morse said.

"The governor knows what we all know; I am the strongest candidate to take on Maggie Hassan this fall."

A New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesperson said Sununu and the GOP establishment were in "full desperation mode," fearing Bolduc would win and be easier for Hassan to defeat.

"Establishment Republicans from Mitch McConnell to Chris Sununu are willing to do anything to drag Morse over the finish line of the Republican Senate primary because Morse has failed in every sense of the word to run an effective campaign," said Gates MacPherson. "Chuck Morse's campaign is failing, and the Republican establishment is panicking."

Hassan left 'a disaster'

Sununu said Hassan, a two-term governor, left him with "a disaster" in the form of inadequate capacity for mental health treatment and record deaths from opioid overdoses.

"The state of New Hampshire is frustrated with her lack of leadership," Sununu said. "She was gone for five years and just showed up in the sixth year, and that is not how it is done here."

Sununu said he made the pitch for Morse in a telephone conversation that former President Donald Trump initiated last week.

Trump had praised Bolduc as a "strong guy, a tough guy."

Trump told Sununu he was looking at the race closely and that it was coming down to a choice between Bolduc and Morse.

But some of Trump's biggest supporters in New Hampshire now believe the former president will sit this one out, in part because members of his New Hampshire inner circle are sharply split over whom to support.

Last November, Sununu told reporters at this same venue that he would not oppose Hassan and instead would seek a fourth two-year term as governor.

klandrigan@unionleader.com