Sununu’s decision then not only comes as a bit of a shock and letdown for national Republican strategists but also creates a problem as the party must find another credible challenger to Hassan — and do it fast. (One name you are likely to hear a lot is former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who lost her seat to Hassan in 2016.)
It also has reverberations outside of New Hampshire.
Remember that Republicans need only to net one seat in the
2022 election to retake control of the Senate majority they lost earlier this year
. Y, had Sununu run
, Republicans would have been favorites to win the seat
, con centro suggesting he would start the contest with a mid-single digit edge
With Sununu’s no-go decision, Hassan likely starts any general election race with an edge — albeit a narrow one given her job approval numbers are middling and the state is split pretty evenly down partisan lines.
No cometer errores: New Hampshire will be competitive next fall. But it’s not the easy layup that it might have been if Sununu had decided to run.
With New Hampshire now a pure jump ball — pending who Republicans can recruit now that Sununu is out — Republicans may need to widen their search for competitive seats. New Hampshire, which would have been Republicans’ top pickup chance had Sununu run, is now back in a group of seats that includes Nevada, Arizona y georgia. Following last Tuesday’s election, GOPers were promising to put Colorado on the competitive map as well but they don’t appear to have a top-tier candidate there yet.
For Republicans, they have five seats in potential peril: open seats in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania as well as seats held by Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Marco Rubio of Florida.
With the Senate split 50-50 right down the middle, every competitive seat takes on outsized importance. Which is why Sununu saying “No” is such a big deal for Senate Republicans. Had he jumped into the race, it would have been a major momentum builder for Republicans across the country — proof positive that the political environment was tilting their way and would continue to favor them all the way through next November.
With Sununu staying put, sin embargo, some of that energy and excitement from last week’s elections drops off. Which is the last thing Republicans need at the moment.