We Just Can’t Trust Governor Sununu. Period

   November 1, 2022

Susan Mayer, Columnist
Portsmouth Herald, June 3, 2022

Gov. Chris Sununu, with his practiced “aw shucks” manner, has failed miserably to protect New Hampshire from the tide of disturbing and dangerous extremism rolling through our state. The governor has proved to be an ineffectual leader, easily bullied by the Executive Council and state legislature, both controlled by his own party.

He expects Granite Staters to believe his deceptively moderate words — and not notice the discrepancy between these words and his extremism-enabling deeds. A brief look at Gov. Sununu’s record confirms this conclusion.

Effective leadership?

The governor campaigned hard for the Republicans who won seats in the Executive Council and state legislature. But once they took office, Sununu has been too weak to control these extremists. In the past year, the Republican majority on the Executive Council refused $27 million in federal vaccine funding, impacting the availability of vaccines. How extreme was this rejection? All 49 other states accepted the funding. Sununu’s pitiful excuse: “I pushed as hard as I could.”

In addition, Gov. Sununu’s chosen education commissioner (and foe of public education), Frank Edelblut, pushed through a private school voucher program, made more extreme by Republican legislators, and Gov. Sununu signed it into law (June 2021). But it turns out that the program was underfunded by 5000% — the 1,500 prospective students would cost $6.9 million though the state budgeted only $129,000. Due to Sununu’s fiasco, taxpayers are on the hook for millions. We can’t trust Sununu to lead.

Truth telling?

In the 2021 budget, the Republican extremist-controlled legislature decided to invade women’s privacy and directed the state to interfere with women’s reproductive health care. Not a problem, because Gov. Sununu calls himself a “pro-choice Republican.” Back in July 2018, he said, “I’m pro-choice. I support Roe v. Wade” — and he keeps repeating that claim. In 2020, he claimed he was “not looking to make any changes” involving abortion restrictions. Yet in July 2021, he signed the state budget, which restricted abortion and criminalized some abortion services, imposed a mandatory invasive ultrasound, and contained no exemption for a fetus that died or had fatal anomalies.

He could have vetoed the budget. When questioned, he refused responsibility, saying it was all the legislature’s fault (“not my bill”), and anyway, he couldn’t veto a budget over “this one item.” Yes, that is how low women’s privacy rights and reproductive freedom rate for the “pro-choice” governor. Then, after the imminent overturn of Roe v. Wade hit the news, Sununu insisted, “I’m a pro-choice governor, and as long as I’m governor, we’re going to remain a pro-choice state.” What? When he signed the budget, New Hampshire ceased to be a pro-choice state, and he knows that. The very next week, the other Governor Sununu stepped up to warmly embrace his “abortion ban,” bragging “Look, I’m the first governor in 40 years to sign an abortion ban … Republican governors before me never signed that. I’ve done more on the pro-life issue, if you will, than anyone.” Sununu’s persistent and head-spinning lying shows disrespect to Granite Staters. We cannot trust Sununu to tell the truth.

One of my favorite presidents is Harry S. Truman, who led us out of WWII and in the early Cold War. His well-known motto was “The buck stops here.” Truman understood that he was responsible for what his administration did, and accountable to Americans for the results. He took ownership of both the good and the bad. Truman was a trustworthy leader. Not Gov. Sununu. The governor has a strained (at best) relationship with the truth, in part because he refuses to take responsibility for his actions. He signs an abortion ban into law and refuses to accept the buck — it’s “not my bill.” Of course it is — he made it law! He owns it.

However affable Sununu appears, we can’t trust an ineffectual and dishonest leader who doesn’t stand up for us. A governor who has repeatedly betrayed our trust does not deserve reelection. Let’s vote him out him November.

Susan Mayer of Lee was a senior legislative staff member for Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, D-New Hampshire, for eight years.