NH, the FSP, and John Sununu
- Well? Should we Porcupines work for Sununu and put him over the top to win
the upcoming election? --Tim Condon
The Toughest Fight
Sen. John Sununu�s travails in the Granite State
Democrats have a chance this fall to build a majority in the Senate that is
effectively filibuster-proof. To do it, they will have to defeat John
Sununu, a Republican senator from New Hampshire. Pollster.com's average of
polls has Sununu eleven points below his opponent, former governor Jeanne
Shaheen. No other Republican incumbent is in worse shape: not Ted Stevens of
Alaska, who is mired in scandal; not Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who was
appointed to the Senate a few months ago to fill a vacancy. If Democrats
cannot beat Sununu, they are unlikely to achieve their goal.
The senator has been in tight spots before. In 1996, he won his party's
nomination for a House seat by getting 28 percent of the vote in a field of
eight candidates. He was outspent by the Democratic candidate. In 2002, he
launched a primary campaign against a sitting Republican senator, the
erratic Bob Smith. He was again outspent, and some of the polls were close,
but Sununu won. He then faced Shaheen. She outspent him, too, but he beat
her by four points. Shaheen argues that it was the national climate a year
after 9/11 that beat her; their rematch this year takes place under very
different political circumstances.
If she wins, Republicans will have lost one of their most libertarian-minded
members. Sununu voted against the Republicans' energy bill, transportation
bill, and prescription-drug bill because they spent too much money. He
thinks prisoners in the War on Terror should be able to challenge their
detention in federal court. He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment
on federalism grounds. He has been a strong advocate of letting people
invest some of their Social Security funds for themselves. He has tried to
keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from being able to take ever-bigger risks
with taxpayer money.
Being a small-government conservative in Washington in recent years has
meant losing most battles, but not all of them. Sununu succeeded in passing
legislation to block taxes on Internet access, for example. He led a fight
to make the Patriot Act more protective of civil liberties, joining a
filibuster and winning some concessions. Being a small-government
conservative has also often meant being at odds with the Bush
administration, as his record on many of those issues demonstrates. Sununu
was the first Republican senator to call for Alberto Gonzales to step down
as attorney general. He bucked the administration, as well, on immigration.
When the bipartisan Iraq Study Group issued its recommendations in late
2006, Sununu was notably more receptive to them than the administration,
which regarded them as a glorified surrender.
*John Sununu*Darren Gygi
An engineer by training, Sununu is very smart. He is also the youngest
senator. But Sununu does not seem to have come across to his colleagues as a
know-it-all, notwithstanding some jokes that John McCain makes while
campaigning in New Hampshire. In this respect, Sununu's reputation differs
markedly from that of his father, who was often faulted for his arrogance.
(The elder John Sununu was a brilliant engineer who became New Hampshire's
governor, chief of staff to the first President Bush, and a host of *
Shaheen�s strategy in the Senate race is pretty simple: tie Sununu to an
unpopular president, an unpopular war, and unpopular economic conditions. It
is the sort of campaign that could be run against just about any Republican
in just about any state. She is, in short, hoping that a Democratic tide
washes her ashore. The complacence of that strategy offers Sununu some hope.
New Hampshire Democrats take every opportunity to point out that Sununu has
voted with President Bush 85 percent of the time — which isn't surprising,
considering that he is a Republican. Sununu's comeback: "I vote with New
Hampshire 100 percent of the time." He adds, "In 2003, my first year in the
United States Senate, Republicans advanced an energy bill that spent too
much money, was filled with unnecessary subsidies, and I led the effort to
defeat it and we succeeded. I wasn't looking for a fight in my first year in
the Senate but it just wasn't a good bill for taxpayers; it wasn't a good
bill for the people of New Hampshire. . . . I've never hesitated to vote the
interests of New Hampshire whether the legislation was put forward by
Republicans or Democrats."
Shaheen herself backed the invasion of Iraq during her 2002 run. Now she
says that President Bush misled the country into war. Earlier this year she
was reported as complaining that we were "five years into a war we were told
would last a matter of weeks." Her own account, taken at face value, makes
her sound gullible and unserious. The success of the surge may also have
made this issue less effective for Shaheen.
The economy, too, may not work quite as much in Shaheen's favor as she had
thought. On gas prices, Sununu's advocacy of more drilling will probably
beat her calls for a crackdown on oil companies and speculators. New
Hampshire has not been a high-foreclosure state, meanwhile, and Sununu has
taken a lead on housing issues. He has been getting more active on health
care, too. He supports a large tax credit to help individuals who do not get
health insurance through their jobs buy it for themselves. He also thinks
that individuals and businesses ought to be able to buy insurance across
state lines. (Freeing interstate commerce is something of a theme in
Sununu dismisses the idea that his state is turning blue. "In 2004, we had
two Republican United States Senators, two Republican members of Congress, a
Republican governor, a Republican state senate, a Republican house of
representatives, [and] five Republican executive councilors." (In New
Hampshire, a council shares executive duties with the governor.) "The
demographics of New Hampshire [have not] changed radically over the past
But in November 2004, New Hampshire became the only state to vote for John
Kerry after having voted for George W. Bush four years earlier — completing
a solid bloc of blue that stretched from Maine to Maryland. It also elected
a Democratic governor. In 2006, Republicans lost their majorities in the
legislature and the executive council, and lost both House seats. Perhaps
that was the year that slow change in New Hampshire reached a tipping point.
McCain will be campaigning in New Hampshire, which voted for him in the
presidential primaries of 2000 and 2008. That should help Sununu. The
senator is also husbanding his resources wisely. Shaheen has been running
ads through the summer, while Sununu has kept his money in the bank so that
he can deploy it when people are paying attention. The candidates are not
yet well defined in people's minds, and Shaheen's lead in the polls may
reflect voters' preference for a Democrat over a Republican more than their
preference for her over him.
Sununu is unflappable, and he has thought through this campaign. If he does
not win reelection, it will be because it was impossible to do this year.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- I'm one of those wannabe NH residents, and hope to be as soon as I can
get a job that will afford me enough money to move my family to NH. I
have tended to vote Democrat over Republican because here in GA I find
very few Republicans who support more than lining their pockets and
those of their friends. The research I've done on politics in NH,
while not great, leads me think I would vote for Republicans much more
than I have in recent history because they support what I believe. If
I were a NH resident, I would certainly throw my support to Sen.
Sununu for re-election.
a socially liberal, fiscally conservative voter of 30+ years who
didn't know my leanings were libertarian until recently.
On Fri, Aug 1, 2008 at 1:07 PM, Tim Condon <tim@...> wrote:
> Well? Should we Porcupines work for Sununu and put him over the top to win
> the upcoming election? --Tim Condon