By the time January rolls around, Chris Sununu will be in the rare position of taking office at a time when Republicans control every chamber in the Statehouse – the House, the Senate, the executive council and, of course, his seat. It’s the first time that’s happened in more than a decade.
Even so, Sununu says he’s eager to bridge the divide with lawmakers of all backgrounds.
“We have a lot of challenging work before us, a lot of issues that have to be addressed," Sununu said at a post-election press conference in Concord Wednesday afternoon. "And as a state we have to come together, we really do. We have to come together to face the real challenges that we see before us.”
Once the results were finalized early Wednesday morning, Sununu won the governor’s race against Democrat Colin Van Ostern by a two-point margin. The two men have served, literally, side-by-side on the executive council for the last four years, and Sununu says Van Ostern called to congratulate him early Wednesday morning.
Van Ostern, in a message posted on Facebook the day after the election, said he is "rooting for [Sununu's] success in his work for the people of our state."
"While Republicans will control both the executive and legislative branches of New Hampshire’s government beginning in January, I will do everything I can as a private citizen and in our state’s growing private sector to advance this needed work, regardless of party lines," Van Ostern wrote. "We must move forward as one state."
At age 42, Sununu will be the youngest sitting governor in the nation. But right now, at least, he isn’t making much of that distinction.
“I’m just proud to bring my experience to the table and I’m proud the people of the state saw that as being of value to the state and making the best decisions as we move forward," he said Wednesday.
In taking over the Statehouse corner office, Sununu will also continue his family’s high-profile political legacy. His father, John H. Sununu, served three terms as governor and his oldest brother, John E. Sununu, served in Congress and the U.S. Senate.
In terms of his own administration, Sununu wasn’t ready – the day after the election – to get too specific on what policies he’ll prioritize. But he did say he would focus broadly on the issues he emphasized in his campaign: fighting the opioid crisis, crafting a long-term energy policy and reducing business regulations, taxes and fees.
One of the largest questions marks facing the state now is the future of expanded Medicaid, which provides health coverage to an estimated 50,000 residents.
In a sharp contrast with his Democratic opponent, Sununu said he did not want to make the program permanent. Now, he says he wants to work with the Legislature and the newly elected Trump administration to determine what’s next.
Sununu also says he plans to make good on his campaign promise to visit 100 out-of-state businesses in his first 100 days in office in an effort to get more companies to move to New Hampshire. He also plans a 90-day moratorium on new state rules and regulations, billed as part of a broader effort to reduce red tape in government.
“We can take a breath for a couple of days," Sununu said. "But we know there’s a lot of work ahead, so we’re excited.”
At this point, Sununu doesn’t have a formal transition team in place. He says he plans to take a few days off to spend with family and will begin to map out a plan after that.
Sununu, who has served as CEO of Waterville Valley Ski Resort since his family purchased the venue in 2010, says he plans to resign from that role in the weeks ahead. His family will continue to stay involved, he says, but he plans to rescind his seat on the resort's board of directors.