Manchester, NH: Yesterday, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu announced that he will not be seeking a fifth term as Governor. In the wake of this announcement, Cornerstone calls on New Hampshire’s churches and Christian community to reflect on Sununu’s legacy and look carefully towards the future.
For many Christians in New Hampshire, Governor Sununu’s record has been mixed. At times, Sununu’s political style could be openly cynical. The Governor repeatedly promised faith leaders in writing that he would take certain actions and then brazenly did the opposite.
Sununu became the first Republican governor in America to champion state legislation that would have allowed unlimited abortion up to birth. He also promised faith leaders in a signed letter that he would sign a bill repealing New Hampshire’s ban on free speech outside abortion clinics. Instead, Sununu vetoed the bill.
Most disappointingly, in his final two terms, Sununu has presided over a dramatic left-wing politicization of the New Hampshire Department of Justice. Under Sununu’s administration, the New Hampshire DOJ has vigorously advocated the forced inclusion of biological males in women’s athletics, restrooms, and locker rooms. Sununu’s Attorney General’s office has even been praised by a leading Democratic state representative for its unprecedented left-wing political advocacy on gender issues.
At the same time, Sununu’s governorship has had positive aspects. Before Sununu reversed his position on late-term abortion, his willingness to negotiate with conservatives allowed New Hampshire to become the first state in the country to move from abortion up to birth to having a six-month abortion restriction.
We acknowledge that the Governor has had a consistently favorable record on school choice. Additionally, while we challenged some aspects of Sununu’s response to Covid-19, it is true that Sununu was more restrained than many other governors in his response to the pandemic.
After New Hampshire’s emergency powers statutes were interpreted to give the Governor’s office virtually unlimited powers, Sununu wisely signed multiple bills limiting his own emergency powers and protecting key civil and religious liberties from interference by his successors. We commend these constructive steps. Sununu’s appointment of Gordon MacDonald to New Hampshire’s Supreme Court is also likely to have lasting and positive consequences.
New Hampshire is a secular and purple state. Christians in New Hampshire must acknowledge that—to advance the Kingdom of God and protect the vulnerable—we must be willing to operate in coalitions with leaders with whom we do not always agree. At the same time, we should expect our leaders to speak and to govern with integrity.
As we look ahead to 2024, it is openness and honesty that will be Cornerstone’s top criteria in assessing those who enter the field as Sununu’s potential successor.