NH’s Governor, Chris Sununu’s endorsement of Nikki Haley is reminiscent of his father, former Governor John H Sununu’s endorsement of George H Bush in the 1988 race.
Vice President Bush was struggling as a candidate living in the shadows of the GOP Party legend, Ronald Reagan. No matter what Bush did, it just never seemed to excite the GOP base like Reagan had, he was anti-climatic, and George H was full of gaffs. Vice President Bush placed 3rd in Iowa with only 19%, behind Bob Dole (37%) and Pat Robinson (25%).
It not only seemed like IA was career ending, the tide turned and the national press was pounding the VP so hard that digging out of it was much harder than seemed possible.
The situation didn’t phase Chris Sununu’s father, John H. He behaved jubilantly, and at one point exclaimed something like, ” The Vice President just lost and NH gets to make the VP a President”. Within hours of Bush’s devastating IA loss, Sununu recognized his own opportunity and reward if he turned the campaign around and was working full steam ahead. He put Bush driving heavy equipment and fork lifts and put a “guy on the street” element as part of his brand.
Sununu clearly pushed Bush into the winner’s circle, and everyone knew it. Bush went on to the White House, and John H Sununu went on to be White House Chief of Staff.
Chris Sununu is facing a similar challenge, with the risks of crazy Trump causing huge damage for the Country, and for the “Conservatism” the Sununus really do care deeply about. Not only is Chris motivated. I suspect the whole Sununu family will be pretty effective. Expect that subsequent endorsements from John H and John E Sununus will follow. And that means Kelly Ayotte will be endorsing as well.
A Sununu endorsement isn’t like most endorsements, and it’s probably nothing like what DeSantis is likely to get from his Iowa endorsement by IA Governor Kim Reynolds. It just isn’t. There are show horse endorsements, and their are work horse endorsements. The Sununus don’t do a photo op day and then go home. Nope. They are work horses. They roll up their sleeves and signs will go up in the nookiest of crannies in Franconia Notch, whether it’s 30 degrees, or 40 below zero.
In 1996 Jeanne Shaheen was running for Governor and Chris Sununu’s brother, John E. Sununu was running for Congress. We put up 3 or 4 hundred signs for Jeanne Shaheen in Carroll county where no Democrat had ever put up signs in those days. So just having them there caused quite a stir. It’s a good thing we got the impact that way, we could have never kept up with Sununu’s/Paul Collins’ operation if the sign impact stood on their own, without the chatter about “Democratic signs in Carroll County”. Sununu’s primary opponents just couldn’t keep up, either. The Sununu signage alone was nothing short of spectacular, and the Sununu won.
But a Sununu endorsement doesn’t end with the grunt work. Chris, his father, and his brother, former Senator John Sununu, are all MIT engineers. They quantify everything. And they do it well, with precision. Just the technical campaign advice alone is the very best of the very, very, best Nikki Haley can get on the GOP side.
Nikki Haley had really great odds of performing really well in NH with no Sununu endorsement. But with this Sununu endorsement, expect some pretty large voting shifts, with patterns going very strongly toward Haley.