Chris Sununu came out on top in November's elections, but in a speech to New Hampshire’s Forum on the Future Tuesday, he repeatedly called the 2016 campaign "terrible," and said it drove his family to get rid of cable TV to escape the rhetoric and campaign ads.
He said there’s a lesson to be learned.
“I really believe that we have to be a shining example of how to do it better, a shining example of making sure we are bringing in the Republicans and the Democrats, the hard right and the hard left and simply saying it doesn’t matter what the politics are, it doesn’t matter whose idea it is, we are just going put the best idea on the table,” Sununu said.
Sununu was quick to admit this ideal is easier said than lived up to, and leaders need to summon the willpower to keep partisan appetites in check.
“It’s kind of like a diet," he said. "You’ve got to be really disciplined. You want to get there, but then you have your hard moments and you find yourself snacking at midnight.”
But to the extent Sununu has spelled out policy goals, they’ve come from the GOP side of the fridge: so-called "right to work" legislation, tighter laws on abortion and voting, looser ones on guns; and tax cuts. All are issues that may win Sununu favor with conservatives excited by the fact that Republicans will soon control the Legislature and governor’s office for the first time in a dozen years.
But they also have Democrats feeling leery.
Durham State Rep Marjorie Smith chatted with Sununu after his speech.
"When you begin and you talk about right to work, and you talk about. forgive me, drive by voting," she said.
"We don’t have drive-by voting yet," Sununu replied.
"We never have and we never will," Smith said.
The two debated this point cordially. But Sununu ceded little ground.
"The same-day voter registration stuff does concern me," he told Smith. "There is no doubt that out voting laws are very loose. They are, compared to other states, and I just think the first-in-the- nation primary, I think we have a responsibility to do it as well as we possibly can, so."
But he didn’t foreclose the possibility of compromise
"And I think every eligible voter should vote," Smith said.
"Yes," Sununu said.
"And there are certainly things we can do about residency and domicile," Smith continued.
"Right, that’s all," he replied.
Smith: "But we ought to continue to encourage people to vote and not discourage them."
Smith: "And I’m looking forward to working with you."
Sununu: "All right, thank you Marjorie. We’ll talk soon."
Smith: "I hope so."
The harder part will be when that work actually begins, if it begins.