POLITICS
07/18/2013 01:21 pm ET Updated Jul 18, 2013

Chris Sununu Says He Won't Run For New Hampshire Governor In 2014

AP

The son of former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R) announced Thursday that he will not seek to follow in his father's footsteps next year.

New Hampshire Executive Councilor Chris Sununu (R-Newfields) released a statement to Foster's Daily Democrat ruling out a run for higher office in 2014, saying he wanted to focus on his family and business.

Sununu, whose father was governor from 1983 to 1989, was considered a leading candidate to challenge Gov. Maggie Hassan (D). Instead, Sununu indicated that he would seek reelection to a third term on the state Executive Council.

In addition to the governor's race, Sununu was mentioned as a potential candidate for Congress or the U.S. Senate next year. Thursday's announcement also would take him out of the running to challenge either United States Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) or U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) in 2014.

"There are a number of great Republican candidates in New Hampshire who I know can get this state and country moving again, and can regain the confidence and trust of voters that has been lost by liberals here and in Washington," Sununu said in the statement.

Sununu stressed to The Huffington Post on Thursday that his young family and being CEO of Waterville Valley Resort were the main factors that took him out of the running for governor. He said he is confident that he could have defeated Hassan and indicated that he would consider a future run for higher office. He also stressed his interest in his current office.

"I'm 38 and have plenty of time to run for higher office," Sununu told HuffPost. "I love what I do on the council. It matters up here. It has an impact on the state."

The race against Hassan is expected to be competitive in the swing state, where Republicans continue to control the state Senate. Other potential candidates include state Sen. Andy Sanborn (R-Bedford), state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and former state Rep. Kevin Smith (R-Litchfield). Bradley, a former congressman, is also a potential Shaheen challenger. Hassan is the only Democratic woman governor in the country and nationally Democrats are expected to assist in her reelection bid.

New Hampshire Democrats were quick to say that Sununu's decision is part of what they see as declining fortunes for the state GOP.

"Republicans have no new ideas and no agenda to offer New Hampshire, so it’s no wonder even their former Presidential nominee Bob Dole thinks the GOP should be ‘closed for repairs,'" state Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "At this point the best case scenario for New Hampshire Republicans is a slate of failed tea party candidates who voters have already rejected."

Sununu rejected Kirstein's notion, pointing to a Republican sweep of state legislative seats and the entire Executive Council in 2010. He said that Democrats did well in 2012 due to President Barack Obama's coattails.

"The idea we can't do well across this state is ludicrous," Sununu told HuffPost. "I have no doubt in 2014 we will have a good candidate and I expect us to do well in 2014."

Sununu, whose father was White House chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush, was first elected to the Executive Council in 2010 and reelected last year. The Executive Council consists of five members and serves as a board of directors for state government. Among the panel's powers are confirming all of Hassan's appointments, approving all state contracts over $10,000 and overseeing the state infrastructure plan. Sununu, who represents a Republican council district, is part of the panel's first ever under-40 majority.

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