Chris Sununu

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Chris Sununu
Christopher T Sununu.jpg
82nd Governor of New Hampshire
Assumed office
January 5, 2017
Preceded byChuck Morse (acting)
Member of the New Hampshire Executive Council
from the 3rd district
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2017
Preceded byBeverly Hollingworth
Succeeded byRussell Prescott
Personal details
Born (1974-11-05) November 5, 1974 (age 44)
Salem, New Hampshire, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Valerie Sununu
RelativesJohn H. Sununu (father)
John E. Sununu (brother)
ResidenceBridges House
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology (BS)
WebsiteCampaign website
Government website

Christopher T. Sununu (/səˈnn/; born November 5, 1974) is an American Republican politician, businessman, and engineer serving as the 82nd Governor of New Hampshire since January 2017. Sununu was previously a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council, an office he held from 2011 to 2017.

Sununu was born in Salem, New Hampshire, he also served as chief executive officer of the Waterville Valley Ski Resort in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. He earned a bachelor's degree in civil and environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sununu is a son of former New Hampshire Governor and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu and younger brother of former U.S. Representative and Senator John E. Sununu.

Early life and education[edit]


Sununu, one of eight siblings, was raised in Salem, New Hampshire, he is the son of Nancy (Hayes) and former Governor of New Hampshire and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu. His father's ancestors were Lebanese and Palestinian and came to the United States around the start of the 20th century, they belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church.[1] Chris Sununu was sworn in with a Greek Orthodox New Testament belonging to his family,[2] his father was born in Havana, Cuba; however, most of the last two generations of Sununus were born in the United States.[3] His mother's ancestors include immigrants from Ireland, as well as Scotland and England.[3]


Early career[edit]


From 1998 to 2006, Sununu worked as an environmental engineer designing systems and solutions for cleaning up waste sites, he specialized in soil and groundwater remediation, wastewater treatment plants, and landfill designs.


• In 2010, Sununu led a group of investors in the buyout of Waterville Valley Resort where he worked as Chief Executive Officer. Waterville Valley employs over 700 people in the North Country. Sununu led an aggressive expansion effort of the ski resort in cooperation with the United States Forest Service; the resort offers downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, golf, tennis, mountain biking, a year-round ice arena and conference center services.

• From 2006 to 2010, Sununu was an owner and director of Sununu Enterprises, a family business and strategic consulting group located in Exeter, NH. He focused much of his time on local, national and international real estate development, venture technologies and business acquisitions.

New Hampshire Executive Council[edit]

10-Year Highway Plan[edit]

On December 16, 2015, the Governor's Advisory Commission on the Intermodal Transportation (GACIT) presented the 10-Year Plan for 2017-2026 to the Governor of State New Hampshire.[4] Executive Counselor Sununu, as a voting member of GACIT, helped develop the blueprint which "aggressively addressed financial constraint, assuming federal funding of about $160 million per year."[5]

Ward Bird[edit]

In 2010, Sununu joined the other four Executive Council members in voting unanimously to release Ward Bird from his mandatory three to six-year prison sentence for threatening another person with a gun; the council voted to grant a full pardon to the Moultonborough farmer, who was convicted of brandishing a gun at a woman who trespassed on his posted property in 2008. But Lynch, who has never granted a pardon during his tenure in the Corner Office, vetoed the measure, saying the judicial system had given Bird's case a thorough review and he would not undermine that; the council then immediately voted to commute his sentence, and Lynch let that vote stand.[6]

Home Help NH[edit]

Sununu at a 2016 gubernatorial candidate forum steered by former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.

In 2011, The New Hampshire Executive Council worked with the New Hampshire Attorney General and Banking Department to approve and create Home Help NH; the group assists citizens placed in financial distress and, in some cases, taken advantage of by big banks during the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Managed Medicaid[edit]

In 2011, Sununu led a series of public hearings to review proposals for Managed Medicaid, a program to help New Hampshire Medicaid recipients to coordinate their health care,[7] it also helps Medicaid recipients with chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma, obesity, and mental illness. Through this program, Medicaid recipients have wellness and prevention programs as a part of their Medicaid benefit.

In 2014, a 300-page, $292 million amendment to the state's Medicaid program came before the Executive Council only two hours before the scheduled vote. Republicans Joseph Kenney and Sununu urged the governor and other Democrats present not to vote for the contract, but lost the vote 3-2, along party lines.[8]

Governor of New Hampshire[edit]



In the general election, Sununu defeated Democratic nominee Colin Van Ostern, 48.8% to 46.6%.


In the general election, Sununu was re-elected, defeating Democratic nominee Molly Kelly, 52.8% to 45.7%.[9]

Sununu was endorsed by the New Hampshire Troopers Association, New Hampshire Police Association, Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 104. In his bid for re-election, he was also endorsed by numerous New Hampshire news outlets, including: The Portsmouth Herald, The Union Leader, The Eagle-Tribune, Nashua Telegraph, Foster's Daily Democrat, Exeter News-Letter, Seacoast Online, and the Hampton Union.


On May 14, 2019, Sununu announced that he would seek a third term as governor, rather than challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen in the 2020 election.[10]


Sununu was sworn in as Governor for a two-year term on January 5, 2017. Sununu is currently serving his second term as Governor and was sworn in on January 3, 2019. 

Among his accomplishments during his first term was delivering a balanced state budget with no new taxes or fees and establishing full day kindergarten. Additionally, Governor Sununu provided property tax relief by returning $65 million to cities and towns for roads, bridges, and safer schools, invested $275 million in clean water projects, expanded educational opportunities for students, and signed job creating business tax cuts into law.  

Governor Sununu's leadership has garnered a number of awards including the New Futures' 2017 President's Award for championing policies that improve the health and wellness of all Granite Staters, he is one of only five Governors honored by AARP with their Capitol Caregiver 2017 award and received CASA's 2018 John McDermott Champion of Children Award.    

In 2018, Governor Sununu announced the nationwide launch of his Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative to engage employers and empower workplaces to provide support for people recovering from substance use disorder. More than 40,000 employees in the Granite State work for a designated Recovery Friendly Workplace.

In October of 2018, Sununu introduced the State's new “hub and spoke model.” The model includes nine regional hubs (located in Berlin, Concord, Dover, Hanover, Keene, Laconia, Littleton, Manchester, and Nashua) which coordinate with local “spokes” to provide addiction recovery services. Hubs receive $9 million a year in funding, stemming from $45.8 million in federal aid to combat the state's opioid epidemic [11]. In March of 2019 Governor Sununu announced that an additional $12 million had been allocated to New Hampshire to fight the opioid epidemic [12]; the program also includes a new 24/7 “211” hotline, which allows Granite Staters to call and be directed to recovery services at any time.

On May 3, 2019, Sununu vetoed a bill repealing the death penalty at a community center named after Michael Briggs; the bill would not apply to Michael Addison as drafted who killed Briggs in 2006; the veto was overridden.


Sununu is considered by some to be a moderate Republican.[13] However, his father and brother serve on the Board of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank, he is fiscally conservative and socially liberal on some issues, but promotes conservative education priorities.[14] He is in favor of tax cuts, but takes liberal positions on some social issues, other than education.[15] On The Issues, a non-profit and non-partisan organization which tracks politicians' positions, considers Sununu to be a "Moderate Libertarian Conservative."[16] However, he supports legislation that uses tax revenues to support religious and private schools,[17] he vetoed a bill that would ban the public from carrying firearms on school playgrounds.[18]

Economic and fiscal positions[edit]

Sununu being interviewed on the Rich Girard radio program, February 2016

Sununu nominated 27 New Hampshire 'opportunity zones' to receive federal tax breaks for low income areas; this included Waterville Valley, a town 34th of 235 in income [19] with zero percentage below the poverty line [20], where his family's ski resort is located,[21][22] he supported tax cuts for businesses.[23] Following the 2018 mid-term elections, in which Democrats regained control of the New Hampshire State Legislature, Sununu vetoed a bill to establish a paid family leave policy for New Hampshire.[24] Sununu signed a bill making it easier for medical facilities to be licensed to treat veterans.[25] Sununu also opposed the Senate's Republican health care plan in 2017, citing that the proposal would negatively impact Medicaid and addiction recovery services in the state[26]


In late June 2018 and again on June 4, 2019, Sununu vetoed New Hampshire Senate Bill 446, which would have increased the size limit for renewable energy projects participating in net metering from 1 megawatt (MW) to 5 MW; the veto was overridden by the New Hampshire Senate by a 21-3 vote. A veto override vote held in 2018 by the New Hampshire House of Representatives failed to achieve a two-thirds majority in favor of the override; the legislation had been introduced by state Sen. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua). According to Marc Brown, president of the New England Ratepayers Association, if the 1 MW limit was raised to 5 MW, "larger businesses or small municipalities could potentially be making money, a subsidy that would cost the ratepayers in the end."[27] Energy specialists point out that state energy cost increases are largely due to transmission and distribution charges, not fuel cost; such charges reflect a state's share of fuel, so states that reduce demand through conservation or alternative energy see their share fall; states like New Hampshire that do not pass such measures, see prices rise.[28]

Governor Sununu ignored transmission and distribution costs in his veto statement on Senate Bill 446 (and a separate bill, Senate Bill 365), Sununu said the bills would collectively cost New Hampshire electric ratepayers (consumers) around $100 million over three years. "While I agree that expanding net metering could be a benefit to our state, Senate Bill 446 would cost ratepayers at least $5 to $10 million annually and is a handout to large-scale energy developers," Sununu said. "These immense projects should use incentives already available and compete on their own merits."[27]

During the 2019 legislative session, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a similar bill, HB 365, to raise the allowed size for renewable net metering projects from 1 to 5 MW with 72% of votes cast in favor of the bill;[29] the New Hampshire Senate voted in favor of HB 365 in a 24-0 vote. Sununu again vetoed the bill.[30] Energy experts in New Hampshire accused Sununu of spreading false and misleading information in his veto message.[31]

Several media outlets have published content suggesting the Sununu family has played a regular role in contributing to climate change denial.[32][33]


Shortly after taking office, Governor Sununu appointed a businessman to oversee public education. Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut earned a Masters of Theological Studies from the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2015. Edelblut's professional experience is in accounting and business startups, his seven children were home-schooled, but Edelblut has no other teaching or administrative experience or credentials. His controversial appointment was confirmed by a 3-2 vote in the Executive Council. [34]

Sununu's education policy promotes funding religious, private and home-schoolers with taxpayer funding. In May, 2018, he lost his fight for SB193 that would have provided taxpayer-funded savings accounts, in a bi-partisan vote in the House. Republicans feared that the money diverted from public schools to savings accounts would have to be made up through increased property taxes.[35]

In June, 2019, Sununu vetoed SB140, which would have kept control of school credits at the district level, his veto message stated that letting school district continue to control what counts as credit for graduation would interfere with parental choice.[36] Current rules let high schools choose to offer alternative credit through "Extended Learning Opportunities."[37] ED 1400, implementation of a new "Learn Everywhere" program, would move that control to the State Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the Governor. Under ED 1400, every school district would have to accept any program accredited by the state, instead of being locally controlled; the NH Board of Education passed controversial ED 1400 rules by a 4-3 margin in June, 2019 but the Joint Committee for Administrative Rules issued a preliminary objection to the rules in July, 2019. [38]

Social positions[edit]

On abortion, Sununu says that he is not opposed to the issue outright, but doesn't support taxpayer funding for abortions and supports the ban on partial-birth abortion.[39] In 2015, as a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council he voted to defund Planned Parenthood.[40] Sununu had supported other contracts with Planned Parenthood,[41] he later reversed his position and voted to restore the funding.[42] In 2018, he said "I'm pro-choice. I support Roe v. Wade."[43]

Regarding immigration, Sununu said he would refuse to send the National Guard to the border to enforce Trump's 'zero-tolerance' policy that has resulted in family separations.[44]

Sununu is seen as generally supportive of LGBT rights; he said that he does not get involved with the state's GOP platform issues and he was a speaker at an event for the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP political action committee that supports same-sex marriage and other gay rights.[45] In 2018, Sununu signed into law two bills intended to protect the rights of the LGBT community, he signed a bill prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity as well as a bill to ban 'conversion' therapy from being used on minors.[46] In 2019, he allowed a bill to become a law, although without his signature, creating a non-binary gender option for drivers' licenses.[47][48]

He is opposed to legalizing marijuana. In December 2018 he stated he would “absolutely” veto legislation “regardless of what the language looks like.”[49]

Personal life[edit]

In 1998, Chris Sununu completed a five-month through-hike of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia.

Sununu is an active skier and rugby player and, in 1998, completed a five-month through-hike of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia, he lives with wife, Valerie, and their three children, Calvin, Edie, and Leo, in Newfields, New Hampshire.[50]

Electoral history[edit]

Executive Council 1st Term

In 2010, Chris Sununu (R) defeated incumbent Beverly Hollingworth (D) 53,053 to 41,875[51] or 55.9% to 44.1%.

Executive Council 2nd Term

In 2012, Chris Sununu (R) defeated Bill Duncan (D) 75,856 to 55,432[51] or 55.2% to 40.3%, with 4.5% going to Libertarian candidate Michael Baldassarre.

Executive Council 3rd Term

In 2014, Chris Sununu (R) defeated Robin McLane (D) 61,601 to 38,420[52] or 61.6% to 38.4%.

New Hampshire's gubernatorial election, 2016[53]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris Sununu 354,040 48.84%
Democratic Colin Van Ostern 337,589 46.57%
Libertarian Max Abramson 31,243 4.29%
Total votes 724,863 100.00%
Republican gain from Democratic


  1. ^ S., John. "John H. Sununu is a Cuban-born American politician of Palestinian descent, the father of John E. Sununu". John Learn. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  2. ^ DiStaso, John (January 6, 2017). "Chris Sununu inaugurated as New Hampshire's 82nd governor". WMUR. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Times, Special To The New York (November 21, 1988). "Behind the Sununu Surname". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  4. ^ "Draft 10-Year Plan Letter" (PDF). Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  5. ^ "Ten Year Plan addresses highest priorities / January 4, 2016". Archived from the original on March 25, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ "Lynch, Council Free Ward Bird". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  7. ^ "NH Medicaid Care Management Program | New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  8. ^ "Executive Council approves Medicaid expansion contract | New Hampshire". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  9. ^ "New Hampshire Governor Election Results". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  10. ^ DiStaso, John (May 14, 2019). "Sununu announces he'll run for reelection as governor, not for US Senate, in 2020". WMUR-TV. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  11. ^ Sexton, Adam (August 15, 2018). "State rolls out plan to use $45M in federal money to fight opioid crisis". WMUR. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  12. ^ Associated Press (March 21, 2019). "New Hampshire gets nearly $12M to fight opioid epidemic". Concord Monitor.
  13. ^ Sexton, Adam (December 31, 2017). "Looking back at Gov. Sununu's first year in office". WMUR. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  14. ^ "Popular Republicans: The New England Enigma | National Review". National Review. June 27, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
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  22. ^ Garrova, Robert. "Sununu Nominates 27 N.H. 'Opportunity Zones' for Federal Tax Incentives". Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  23. ^ "Property tax is biggest burden for NH businesses - New Hampshire Business Review - November 10 2017". Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  24. ^ Rogers, Josh. "Sununu Vetoes Paid Family Leave Bill". Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  25. ^ Cherry, Mike (June 11, 2018). "Governor signs bill aimed at expanding health care options for veterans". WMUR. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  26. ^ "Senate health care plan 'not viable' for New Hampshire, says Gov. Sununu". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  27. ^ a b Brandt, Jaclyn (June 20, 2018). "N.H. governor vetoes energy bill citing high cost to electric ratepayers". Daily Energy Insider. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  28. ^
  29. ^ "BillStatus_BillRollCalls". Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  30. ^ Ropeik, Annie. "Sununu Vetoes Net Metering Bill Again, Setting Up Repeat Override Battle". Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  31. ^ "Net metering veto spreads misinformation". NH Business Review. June 21, 2019. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  32. ^ biello, Rachel Cohen, Peter. "The Sununu Family And Climate Change Over The Years". Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  33. ^ "The Family Business". Outside/In. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
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  39. ^ "Where 2016 candidates for governor stand on issues". WMUR. August 12, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  40. ^ "New Hampshire defunds Planned Parenthood facilities". The Washington Times. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  41. ^ Rogers, Josh. "Kelly Says Threats To Abortion, Gay Rights Key Issues In Campaign Against Gov. Sununu". Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  42. ^ Levitz, Jennifer (November 6, 2016). "Abortion Becomes Central Issue in New England Governors' Races". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  43. ^ Steinhauser, Paul (October 3, 2018). "Democratic challengerKelly questions if Sununu is really pro-choice if he supports Kavanaugh".
  44. ^ DiStaso, John (June 20, 2018). "Sununu would refuse to deploy NH National Guard to border 'to separate families'". WMUR. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  45. ^ DiStaso, John (May 17, 2018). "NH Primary Source: Sununu says he 'doesn't get involved' in NHGOP platform issues". WMUR. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  46. ^ "N.H. governor signs two pro-LGBT bills". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. June 8, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  47. ^ "New Hampshire's GOP governor to allow nonbinary gender option on state-issued licenses". Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  48. ^ "Bill Allowing 'X' Gender On NH Licenses Becomes Law". CBS Boston. July 11, 2019. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  49. ^ DeWitt, Ethan (December 17, 2018). "'The next major battle': Sununu charges against marijuana legalization".
  50. ^ Steinhauser, Paul (November 6, 2018). "Gov. Sununu optimistic after voting in Newfields". Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  51. ^ a b "Executive Council - NHSOS". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  52. ^ "Executive Council - 2012 General Election - NHSOS". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  53. ^ "2016 General Election Information and Results". Secretary of State, New Hampshire. Retrieved November 27, 2016.

External links[edit]

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