Chris Sununu

Chris Sununu
Christopher T Sununu.jpg
82nd Governor of New Hampshire
Assumed office
January 5, 2017
Preceded by Maggie Hassan
Member of the New Hampshire Executive Council from the 3rd district
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2017
Preceded by Beverly Hollingworth
Succeeded by Russell Prescott
Personal details
Christopher Thomas Sununu

(1974-11-05) November 5, 1974 (age 45)[citation needed]
Salem, New Hampshire, U.S.
Political party Republican
Valerie Sununu
( m.  2001)
Relatives John H. Sununu (father)
John E. Sununu (brother)
Residence Bridges House
Education Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS)
Website Government website

Christopher Thomas 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 a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council from 2011 to 2017.

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

Early life and education


Sununu, one of eight siblings,[2] was born and raised in Salem, New Hampshire.[3] He is a son of Nancy (Hayes) and former Governor of New Hampshire and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu. His father's paternal ancestors came to the United States from the Middle East around the start of the 20th century, while his paternal grandmother was born in El Salvador to a family of Lebanese Greek Orthodox Christians that had settled in Central America at the turn of the century. His father's paternal ancestry is Lebanese and Palestinian from the Greek Orthodox community in Jerusalem. Despite the family's emigration from Jerusalem, some members of the family were from Beirut, in what is today Lebanon. His father, John, was born in Havana, Cuba. His paternal grandfather, also named John, was born in the United States, and most of the last two generations of Sununus were also born in the United States.[4] His mother's ancestors include immigrants from Ireland, as well as Scotland and England.[4] When he took office as governor, Sununu was sworn in with a Greek Orthodox New Testament belonging to his family.[5]

Chris Sununu is a younger brother of John E. Sununu, a former U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative.[2]


Early career


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.[citation needed]


  • In 2010, Sununu led a group of investors in the buyout of Waterville Valley Resort where he worked as Chief Executive Officer, employing over 700 people in the White Mountains region. Sununu led an aggressive expansion effort of the ski resort in cooperation with the United States Forest Service. The resort offers skiing, golf, tennis, mountain biking, and an ice arena.[8]
  • From 2006 to 2010, Sununu was an owner and director of Sununu Enterprises, a family business and strategic consulting group in Exeter, New Hampshire. It focuses on local, national and international real estate development, venture technologies and business acquisitions.[citation needed]

New Hampshire Executive Council

Sununu was a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council from 2011 to 2017.[9]

10-Year Highway Plan

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 New Hampshire.[10] Executive Councilor 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."[11]

Ward Bird

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 it. The council then immediately voted to commute Bird's sentence, and Lynch let that vote stand.[12]

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

Managed Medicaid

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.[13][failed verification] 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.[citation needed]

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.[14]

Governor of New Hampshire


In the general election, Sununu defeated Democratic nominee Colin Van Ostern, 48.8% to 46.6%.[15]

In the general election, Sununu was re-elected, defeating Democratic nominee Molly Kelly, 52.8% to 45.7%.[16]

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.[citation needed]

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.[17]


Sununu was sworn in as Governor for a two-year term on January 5, 2017. Sununu was sworn in for his second term as Governor on January 3, 2019.[18]

In 2018, 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.[citation needed] In October 2018, Sununu introduced the State's new “hub and spoke model” for addiction recovery. 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.[19] In March 2019 Governor Sununu announced that an additional $12 million had been allocated to New Hampshire to fight the opioid epidemic.[20]

On May 3, 2019, Sununu vetoed a bill that would have repealed the death penalty. He signed the veto at a community center named after Michael Briggs; as drafted, the bill would not have applied to Michael Addison (who killed Briggs in 2006). The veto was overridden.[21]

Political positions

Sununu is considered by some to be a moderate Republican.[22] He has vetoed 57 bills, including 40 bipartisan bills in 2019.[23] One bill vetoed by Sununu would have raised solar net metering caps.[24] He is in favor of tax cuts, but takes liberal positions on some social issues.[25] On The Issues, a non-profit and non-partisan organization which tracks politicians' positions, considers Sununu to be a "Moderate Libertarian Conservative."[26]

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.[27][28] These included Waterville Valley, an affluent town dominated by the Sununu family's Waterville Valley Resorts. The family later expanded their investment in the resort, allowing them to "defer paying taxes on those gains for seven years and get a 15% discount on the tax liability. In addition, they could avoid paying taxes on any future capital gains from the resort if they hold on to it for a decade". The governor claimed that there was no conflict of interest, even though many other towns were far more qualified for the investment incentives encouraged by the program.[29]

Sununu has supported tax cuts for businesses and a reduction in property taxes.[30] Following the 2018 mid-term elections, in which Democrats regained control of the New Hampshire State Legislature, Sununu vowed to veto their proposal to create a state income tax, as well as several other new taxes and fees. Regarding health care policy, Sununu signed a bill making it easier for medical facilities to be licensed to treat veterans.[31] 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[32]

He supports legislation to provide state-funded "school choice vouchers to disadvantaged and low-income students"; such vouchers could be used at religious and private schools.[33] 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.[34]

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. 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.[35]

In a statement about his veto of 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."[35]

On abortion, Sununu says that he is not opposed to abortion rights, but does not support taxpayer funding for abortions and supports the ban on partial-birth abortion.[36] In 2015, as a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council, he voted to defund Planned Parenthood.[37] He later reversed his position and voted to restore the funding.[38] In 2018, he said "I'm pro-choice. I support Roe v. Wade."[39] Sununu had supported other contracts with Planned Parenthood.[40]

He vetoed a bill that would ban the public from carrying firearms on school playgrounds.[41]

Regarding immigration, Sununu said he would refuse to send the National Guard to the border to enforce Trump's 'zero-tolerance' policy in regard to undocumented immigrants.[42] However, during a 2016 gubernatorial debate, Sununu stated he opposed the settling of 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States. [43]

Sununu is seen as 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.[44] 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.[45] In 2019, he allowed a bill to become a law without his signature that created a non-binary gender option for drivers' licenses.[46][47]

Sununu is opposed to legalizing marijuana. In December 2018 he stated he would “absolutely” veto legislation “regardless of what the language looks like.”[48] Speaking about the environment, in 2020 Sununu joined Democrats in supporting permanent funding for conservation efforts in the US, and particularly in New Hampshire.[49]

Personal life

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.[50] He lives with wife, Valerie, and their three children, Calvin, Edie, and Leo, in Newfields, New Hampshire.[51]

Electoral history

Executive Council 1st Term

In 2010, Sununu (R) defeated incumbent Executive Councilor Beverly Hollingworth (D) by a margin of 53,053 to 41,875,[52] or 55.9% to 44.1%.

Executive Council 2nd Term

In 2012, Sununu (R) defeated Bill Duncan (D) 75,856 to 55,432,[52][53] or 55.2% to 40.3%, with 4.5% going to Libertarian candidate Michael Baldassarre.

Executive Council 3rd Term

In 2014, Sununu (R) defeated Robin McLane (D) 61,601 to 38,420,[54][55] or 61.6% to 38.4%.

New Hampshire's gubernatorial election, 2016 [15]
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
New Hampshire gubernatorial election, 2018 [56]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Chris Sununu (incumbent) 302,764 52.78% +3.94%
Democratic Molly Kelly 262,359 45.74% -0.83%
Libertarian Jilletta Jarvis 8,197 1.43% -2.88%
n/a Write-ins 282 0.05% -0.23%
Total votes '573,602' '100.0%' N/A
Republican hold


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b McDermott, Casey. "Growing Up Sununu: A Familiar Name Brings Both Benefits and Baggage to the Ballot".
  3. ^ "Governor Christopher Sununu". Trustees of Dartmouth College. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ DiStaso, John (January 6, 2017). "Chris Sununu inaugurated as New Hampshire's 82nd governor". WMUR. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  6. ^ Kleiner, Sarah. "Richmond's Maggie Walker governor's school might produce an actual governor on Nov. 8 - just not in Virginia". BH Media Group, Inc. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  7. ^ Fox, Julie. "MIT Alumnus Elected Governor of New Hampshire". MIT Alumni Association. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  8. ^ McDermott, Casey (September 2, 2016). "Sizing Up Sununu's Impact on Waterville Valley". New Hampshire Public Radio. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  9. ^ {{cite news|url= overcomes early deficit to earn second term|work=The Telegraph|last=Pecci|first=Grace|date=7 November 2018|access-date=26 December 2019
  10. ^ "Draft 10-Year Plan Letter" (PDF). Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  11. ^ "Ten Year Plan addresses highest priorities / January 4, 2016". Archived from the original on March 25, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  12. ^ "Lynch, Council Free Ward Bird". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  13. ^ "NH Medicaid Care Management Program | New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  14. ^ "Executive Council approves Medicaid expansion contract | New Hampshire". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  15. ^ a b "2016 General Election Information and Results". Secretary of State, New Hampshire. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  16. ^ "New Hampshire Governor Election Results". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Rogers, Josh. "Governor Chris Sununu Sworn In For Second Term, Delivers Inaugural Address". New Hampshire Public Radio. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  19. ^ Sexton, Adam (August 15, 2018). "State rolls out plan to use $45M in federal money to fight opioid crisis". WMUR. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  20. ^ Associated Press (March 21, 2019). "New Hampshire gets nearly $12M to fight opioid epidemic". Concord Monitor.
  21. ^ Chappell, Bill. "New Hampshire Abolishes Death Penalty As Lawmakers Override Governor's Veto". National Public Radio. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  22. ^ Sexton, Adam (December 31, 2017). "Looking back at Gov. Sununu's first year in office". WMUR. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  23. ^ Staff, NHPR. "Sununu Vetoes Two Additional Bills, On Teacher Tenure and Election Security".
  24. ^ Early, Brian. "Dover council urges override for net-metering veto".
  25. ^ Salzmann, Karl (June 27, 2018). "Popular Republicans: The New England Enigma". National Review.
  26. ^ "Chris Sununu on the Issues". Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  27. ^ "Gov. Sununu Nominates 27 Tracts for Federal Opportunity Zones". New Hampshire Business Matters.
  28. ^ Garrova, Robert. "Sununu Nominates 27 N.H. 'Opportunity Zones' for Federal Tax Incentives". Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  29. ^ "A broken tax break?". December 5, 2019.
  30. ^ "Property tax is biggest burden for NH businesses - New Hampshire Business Review - November 10 2017". Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  31. ^ Cherry, Mike (June 11, 2018). "Governor signs bill aimed at expanding health care options for veterans". WMUR. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  32. ^ "Senate health care plan 'not viable' for New Hampshire, says Gov. Sununu". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  33. ^ "Varied Views: Sununu, Kelly clash on school vouchers | News, Sports, Jobs - The Nashua Telegraph".
  34. ^ Rogers, Josh. "Sununu Vetoes Paid Family Leave Bill". Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  35. ^ a b "N.H. governor vetoes energy bill citing high cost to electric ratepayers". Daily Energy Insider. June 20, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  36. ^ "Where 2016 candidates for governor stand on issues". WMUR. August 12, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  37. ^ "New Hampshire defunds Planned Parenthood facilities". The Washington Times. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  38. ^ Levitz, Jennifer (November 6, 2016). "Abortion Becomes Central Issue in New England Governors' Races". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  39. ^ Steinhauser, Paul (October 3, 2018). "Democratic challengerKelly questions if Sununu is really pro-choice if he supports Kavanaugh".
  40. ^ Rogers, Josh. "Kelly Says Threats To Abortion, Gay Rights Key Issues In Campaign Against Gov. Sununu". Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  41. ^ "New Hampshire governor vetoes 3 gun control bills - The Boston Globe".
  42. ^ DiStaso, John (June 20, 2018). "Sununu would refuse to deploy NH National Guard to border 'to separate families'". WMUR. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  43. ^ Ramer, Holly. "Gubernatorial candidates face off in debates before primary". Retrieved January 15, 2020.
  44. ^ DiStaso, John (May 17, 2018). "NH Primary Source: Sununu says he 'doesn't get involved' in NHGOP platform issues". WMUR. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  45. ^ "N.H. governor signs two pro-LGBT bills". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. June 8, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  46. ^ "New Hampshire's GOP governor to allow nonbinary gender option on state-issued licenses". Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  47. ^ "Bill Allowing 'X' Gender On NH Licenses Becomes Law". CBS Boston. July 11, 2019. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  48. ^ DeWitt, Ethan (December 14, 2018). "'The next major battle': Sununu charges against marijuana legalization". Concord Monitor. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  49. ^ Ropeik, Annie. "Sununu Joins Democrats Pushing For Permanent Federal Conservation Funding". Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  50. ^ Clarke, Jean. "Gorham Through the Eyes of a Thru-Hiker". New Hampshire Grand. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  51. ^ Steinhauser, Paul (November 6, 2018). "Gov. Sununu optimistic after voting in Newfields". Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  52. ^ a b "Executive Council - NHSOS". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  53. ^ "Executive Council - 2012 General Election - NHSOS".
  54. ^ "Executive Council - 2012 General Election - NHSOS". Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  55. ^ "Executive Council - 2014 General Election - NHSOS".
  56. ^ "2018 General Election Information and Results - NHSOS".

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Walt Havenstein
Republican nominee for Governor of New Hampshire
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Chuck Morse
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Ralph Northam
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