Saved By Sununu?
It sounds like former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu is about to take over the reins of the state’s Republican Party. I recently wrote about the challenges facing the party after significant losses in the past two elections for the Portsmouth Herald. You can read the column here.
The election of Sununu, Sr. will help the state Republican Party in two respects, but is potentially problematic in two other ways. On the upside, Sununu seems hell-bent on single-mindedly refocusing the party’s message on fiscal policy, which is more likely to resonate with voters here than the preoccupation with social conservatism that has shrunken the party’s ranks nationally. And, although Sununu is not known for his warm and fuzzy personality, he does have the political stature within his party to address the increasingly public personality clashes and factionalism which have hampered its organizational capabilities in recent years.
On the downside, it is not clear how Sununu, now two decades removed from politics, can help the party improve its standing with the new generation of younger voters who have flocked to the Democratic Party, and who are particularly attracted to the technology-driven nature of Barack Obama's new grassroots paradigm. Perhaps others will help Sununu ramp up the party’s efforts in this crucial area of organizational outreach. Also, Sununu has already come out swinging with an aggressive partisan tone claiming that, “Democrats are ruining New Hampshire,” and that Gov. John Lynch is, “the worst governor the state of New Hampshire has ever had.” While this kind of partisan rhetoric will no doubt help Sununu rally Republicans, I don’t know that it will necessarily win the party greater influence with moderates and independents, many of whom supported Lynch and who are typically turned off by bitter partisanship.
So, Sununu may very well be able to pull the state’s Republican Party together in short order, which is a necessary first step, but it remains to be seen just how he will go about making it more competitive with an increasingly powerful, technically savvy, and well-organized state Democratic Party.
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