Primary Election: September 11, 2018
General Election: November 8, 2018
Voters in the Granite State will head to the ballot box this November as Republican Governor Chris Sununu seeks a second term. New Hampshire, along with Vermont, holds gubernatorial elections every two years.
First elected in 2016, Sununu’s surname runs deep in New Hampshire politics. He is the son of former New Hampshire Governor John H. Sununu who served from 1983 to 1989 before becoming Chief of Staff to President George H. W. Bush. Chris is also the brother to John E. Sununu, a former U.S. Senator who represented New Hampshire in Congress from 2003 to 2009.
Currently, Sununu doesn’t have a primary opponent and can save resources for the general election. Moreover, he’s also the youngest governor in the country and among the most popular. According to a March 2018 poll by Democratic pollster Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican firm Target Point Consulting, Sununu had a 63-percent job approval rating from all voters, with 85 percent among GOP constituents. Over the last two years, he bolstered the state’s alcohol fund by securing a voluntary donation of more than $50 million from the State Hospital Association, which many are labeling a “legacy item.” He’s tackled the opioid crisis and helped create new energy policies.
Two Democrats have declared their candidacy for their party’s respective nomination. State Senator Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand, a former Portsmouth Mayor and 2016 gubernatorial candidate, are both seeking the party nod. Kelly represented the 10th district in the New Hampshire Senate for ten years, while also serving as Chair of the State Commission on the Status of Women. As a legislator, she’s advocated for school accountability and education issues. National groups such as EMILY’s List, an organization devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women, have encouraged her to run. She officially announced her candidacy on April 10. Marchand came in second place in the 2016 Democratic primary despite fundraising difficulties. He announced his bid for the 2018 cycle only three months after Sununu’s 2017 swearing-in. He supports legalizing and taxing marijuana, increasing the business profits tax and utilizing the revenue to support full-day kindergarten and infrastructure projects across the state. The March 2018 poll conducted by GQR/Target Point found Kelly with 17 percent support among Democrats, while Marchand had 11 percent. However, 58 percent of party members remain undecided.
Libertarian candidate Jilletta Jarvis, secretary of the state party and 2016 gubernatorial candidate, is also running. She wants to “prove that smaller government, more personal responsibility, and more government accountability leads to a more successful state.”
The GQR/Target Point poll found a generic Republican leading a generic Democrat by only four percent with 14 percent undecided. However, the Cook Political Report, Rothenberg Political Report, and the Sabato Crystal Ball all label the race as “lean Republican.”