CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Chris Sununu will seek a third term as New Hampshire's governor in 2020, ending speculation that the Republican would make a bid for U.S. Senate.
Sununu announced his decision Tuesday night, saying in a statement that he wanted to preserve strong leadership in the state's executive office. He cited New Hampshire's unemployment rate and wages as proof of effective leadership and said he wanted to stave off a "more radical" agenda from Democrats, who took control of the Legislature in November's election.
Despite declaring in 2017 that he would "never run" for U.S. Senate, Sununu this year indicated interest in challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who's up for reelection in 2020. Shaheen announced she would seek a third term in January, and Federal Election Commission records show she raised $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2019.
Sununu's statement criticized Shaheen's accomplishments during her tenure, but the governor said he and his wife, Valerie, decided he would be of more use in Concord than Washington.
"We all know that I would defeat Jeanne Shaheen, but others can too," his statement said.
The Sununu family is no stranger to the nation's capital. Sununu's father, former New Hampshire governor John H. Sununu, served as White House Chief of Staff during George H.W. Bush's presidential administration. Sununu's brother, John E. Sununu, defeated the then-governor Shaheen in the 2002 U.S. Senate election and served one term as senator before losing to Shaheen in a rematch.
New Hampshire is one of two states to hold gubernatorial elections every two years. Sununu, 44, was reelected in 2018 with over 52% of the vote and is currently the only declared candidate for governor from either major political party.
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said that Sununu would nevertheless "face a successful and strong challenger" in 2020.
"While we regret missing the opportunity to retire Chris Sununu in a campaign for U.S. Senate, we look forward to replacing him as governor in 2020, along with his mentor, Donald Trump," Buckley said in a statement .