Sunday, August 28, 2016

Race of the Day- New Hampshire Governor

71 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Open
2012 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Tossup (D)

Every four years, New Hampshire holds the earliest Presidential primary, and every two years they hold among the latest state primaries. On September 13, Granite State voters will go to the polls once again to pick their nominees, including those for the open race of Governor. Several major party contenders are running, and I would not be the best person to ask in regards to the dynamics of the primary races, but I will try to examine them as best I can, before looking ahead to what might happen in the general election.

New Hampshire is one of two states to elect Governors every two years, so a race is pretty much always under way. Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan is fairly popular, and is approaching the end of her 4th year in office. She was expected to seek a fourth term and would have been a heavy favorite. Instead, she was persuaded by national party leaders to run for the U.S. Senate against a freshman Republican. That Senate race will be the marquee contest in the state this year, but with Hassan vacating the Governorship, Republicans will have a very good chance of winning back an office they used to dominate, but which has most often been held by Democrats over the past political generation.

Three main Democrats are competing for the nomination. They are former State Representative Mark Connolly, former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, who briefly ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008, and Executive Councilor; a fairly significant elective office in the state, Colin Van Ostern. Polls for this contest are extremely limited, and what does exist shows that an overwhelming number of New Hampshire Democrats are undecided. Thus, this may all come down to who has the best ground game on Primary Day. There is some belief that Van Ostern may be the favorite. At 37 years old, he would become the nation's youngest Governor if elected.

On the GOP side, there are even more candidates. State Representative Fred Edelbut, also a venture capitalist is running, as is State Senator Jeanie Forester. The Mayor of the state's primary urban center Manchester, Ted Gatsas is also in the field, but the candidate with the most name recognition is almost certainly Chris Sununu, an Executive Councilor. He is looking to join his father, a former Governor, who later became a major player in national politics, and his older brother, a former  U.S. Senator, in winning statewide in New Hampshire. The primary can still be unpredictable though, as other candidates, such as Edelbut seem to be trying to get to Sununu's right. Gatsas may have the biggest base though among those trying to stop Sununu, and there might possibly be enough undecided voters to make the primary worth watching. Ohio Governor John Kasich, a once and potential future Presidential candidate, is returning to the site of the first primary, where he made a major push in finishing second, is returning to New Hampshire to support Sununu, whose former Senator brother John, was a major Kasich supporter earlier this year.

I cannot claim to know who would be the strongest GOP candidate and who would be the weakest Democrat. My sense though is that Sununu's private sector and public office experience might make him the best Republican candidate. Either her or Gatsas appear very capable of winning the Governorship, while the other GOP contenders would probably face a more uphill struggle.

There really is not any general election polling at this point and will probably not be until after the primary. Even then, the Senate and two Congressional races in New Hampshire, may get more attention. Absent any real evidence, I feel like the uncertainty of all this has to lead me to place some weight on the fact that the state is likely to go Democrat again at the Presidential level and that it might help the Gubernatorial nominee. This has to be looked at as a tossup until the primaries are decided, and whichever party is able to unite easier behind the nominee could have an edge as well.

Sununu campaign link:

Governor races predicted thus far: 5 D (1 Safe, 2 Leans, 2 Tossup) 0 R
Overall predicted thus far: 16 D, 27R


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