By John Celock
A Republican candidate for New Hampshire governor said Thursday that he will not be voting for “evil” when describing why he is voting for Donald Trump.
Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, who is locked in a four-way race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, told the Union Leader in an interview broadcast on the newspaper’s website that he would not invite Trump to campaign with him, but that he would support him. Sununu, who said that he found several of Trump’s recent comments “disgusting” then explained why he was supporting Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“I will not vote for the evil on the other side of the ticket,” Sununu said.
Sununu used the interview to explain why he believed that Clinton was the wrong choice for president.
“The alternative being Hillary Clinton would be a disaster for this country, a disaster for families, a disaster for individuals and a disaster for businesses,” he said.
Sununu took pains to distance himself from Trump and the real estate developer’s recent comments on Gold Star families and other groups. He said that he viewed his race as a New Hampshire centered one and not part of the presidential contest. Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary in February.
“I will not be inviting Donald Trump to campaign here. My campaign is about me, it’s about the governor it’s about this state,” Sununu said. “I don’t like a lot of what he has said, I think a lot of his statements have been disgusting. They have been inappropriate.”
The presidential portion of the interview was a small part of the hour-long affair, which largely centered on New Hampshire centered issues including the state’s opioid crisis, economic development, funding for Planned Parenthood and education. National issues crept into the interview when newspaper editors asked Sununu about Gov. Maggie Hassan’s (D) decision to bar refugees from the state, along with Hassan’s decision to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their gender identity.
Sununu said that President Barack Obama is to blame on the transgender bathroom issue and said that he would prefer that the decision be left up to local communities. In terms of refugees, he noted that he supported Hassan’s decision but said that Republican governors nationally were the ones who made the issue a debate. Hassan’s decision came after several GOP governors in other states had made similar decisions.
Sununu also tied the education debate to the federal government, saying that as governor he would seek to end Common Core standards in New Hampshire schools.
“Washington has completely dictated what our kids do when they sit in those desks everyday,” he said. “I am going to kick Washington out of here.”
Sununu said that Common Core is changing how teachers teach and is limiting teachers from teaching what they want.
Sununu, the son of former Gov. John Sununu (R), said that he wants to increase school choice options in the Granite State, something he says that Hassan has limited. He noted that he and his wife have home schooled their children in addition to sending them to public school, along with having them on a waiting list for a charter school.
“I am living these issues,” he said.
Sununu pointed frequently to his own experience running a ski resort in New Hampshire’s North Country, saying that it would give him the experience to work on economic development. He said that he wants to reduce regulations on business, along with reducing health care and energy costs. He also said that he wants to keep New Hampshire college students in the state by creating a program to help pay down student loans for those who stay in the state after graduation.
Sununu also addressed the opioid crisis that has hit New Hampshire and other New England states hard. He said he wants to focus on increasing drug education in schools at an early age, along with offering businesses a tax credit for hiring those leaving drug rehab programs. Sununu said that by helping to create jobs for those leaving rehab, they will be less likely to relapse and reenter rehab.
Sununu, the brother of former U.S. Sen. John Sununu (R), said that the state’s DARE drug education program has seen a budget hike recently, but he wants to reimagine the program. He said that the program needs to address all types of drugs including opioid and heroin. Sununu said that his son has recently completed DARE but that he is expecting his son to be offered pills in the future, which he wants to prevent.
“In the fifth grade we need to start talking about heroin and opioids and the facts of life,” Sununu said. “If we don’t get to the kids before the drug dealers, they will.”
Sununu is part of a crowded field seeking to succeed Hassan, who declined to seek a third term in order to run for the U.S. Senate. Sununu, a third term executive counselor, is facing off against state Rep. Frank Edelblut, state Sen. Jeanie Forrester and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas in the GOP primary. On the Democratic side, Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand and businessman Mark Connolly are seeking the party’s nod.
Sununu used the interview to say that three issues are driving him to seek the governorship.
“Business, education and opioids are what I am passionate about,” he said.