News & Politics

Republicans' Chances of Reclaiming U.S. Senate Take a Hit

(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

A popular Republican governor is staying put.

In a disappointing setback to the GOP’s hopes of reclaiming the U.S. Senate next year, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu decided Tuesday to seek a fourth term as governor.

“My responsibility is not to the gridlock and politics of Washington, it is to the citizens of New Hampshire,” Sununu said. “I’d rather push myself 120 miles an hour delivering wins for New Hampshire than just slow down and end up on Capitol Hill debating partisan politics without results. That’s why I’m going to run for a fourth term. And I’d be honored if the people in New Hampshire would elect me again as their governor. We have a lot more to do to protect the interests of New Hampshire citizens. And it’s just clear that I can be most effective doing that.”

Leader Mitch McConnell and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott hoped Sununu would challenge former governor and current New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan.

Flipping the seat by taking out the first-term Democrat is crucial to Republicans’ strategy for regaining control of the Senate. Many felt Sununu offered the best shot at winning.

Related: Will Retirements Doom GOP Efforts to Win the Senate?

Though political trends currently favor the GOP in the Granite State, they need an electable challenger to capitalize. One option is former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who lost to Hassan by only 1,000 votes five years ago.

A late October poll showed Ayotte neck-and-neck with Hassan, whose popularity has fallen since the summer, likely due to President Joe Biden’s cratering numbers.

So far, Ayotte is saying that she won’t run for office next year.

If Republicans can’t recruit Ayotte for a much-needed rematch, Hassan might not only win a second term, but the window for Republicans to take back the U.S. Senate gets even smaller.