Nervous top New Hampshire Democrats today lashed out at Executive Councilor Chris Sununu today amid reports that he is considering seeking higher office in 2014. In an interview with WMUR-TV, Sununu announced that he was considering challenging either First District Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter or Governor Maggie Hassan in the upcoming election cycle.
Sununu, son of former Governor, White House Chief of Staff and New Hampshire Republican Party chairman John H. Sununu and brother of former congressman and Senator John E. Sununu, has served on the Executive Council since 2011.
“Whatever happened with Chris Sununu and that messy incident of trying to influence a judge?” tweeted New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley after news broke of Sununu’s potential candidacy.
Buckley’s attack referenced a recent controversy that centered on a letter Councilor Sununu sent to Circuit Court Judge Michael Sullivan on behalf of former Salem Budget Committee member Patrick McDougall. McDougall had been convicted of obstructing government administration because he tried to stop EMTs from taking his wife to the hospital after she called 911 to report symptoms of a migraine. Councilor Sununu faced criticism from Judge Sullivan for sending the letter, and Salem police asked Attorney General Michael Delaney to investigate his actions.
But a follow up letter obtained by NHJournal from Attorney General Delaney, a Democrat, appears to debunk Buckley’s attack. On March 1, 2013 Delaney wrote New Hampshire Supreme court Counsel Howard Zibel and Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan to inform then the allegations made against Sununu were without merit.
“Based on our review of the facts and the circumstances of this matter, there is no basis to conclude that Councilor Sununu violated any provision of the criminal code. Thus, we will be taking no further action,” wrote Attorney General Delaney.
Prominent Republican strategists called Buckley’s attack “desperate” and an indication of how concerned Democrats are about a potential Sununu candidacy.
“Buckley’s attack is so ridiculous that it has even been discredited by a Democratic Attorney General,” said one top Republican unaffiliated with any potential 2014 campaign. “I think it indicates a real sense of nervousness among senior Democrats that Chris Sununu would be a strong candidate who could knock off either Carol Shea-Porter or Maggie Hassan.”
For now, Sununu appears to be focused on his current job, telling the Union Leader that he enjoys his work on the Executive Council and wouldn’t make a decision about his political future until sometime next year.
The full text of Attorney General Delaney’s letter can be viewed below: