2022 GOP showdown: New Hampshire Gov. Sununu to veto redistricting map written by Republicans

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New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has said clearly for months that he doesn’t like the once-in-a decade redistricting maps being pushed through the state’s legislature by fellow Republicans who control both chambers.

And on Wednesday, the Republican governor announced that he will veto the maps.

“The proposed Congressional redistricting map is not in the best interest of New Hampshire, and I will veto it as soon as it reaches my desk. The citizens of this state are counting on us to do better,” the governor wrote.

Sununu’s statement came minutes after the GOP controlled state Senate passed the map, which was also passed earlier this year by the Republican majority in the state House of Representatives.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu speaks with Fox News at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership gathering, in Las Vegas, Nevada on Nov. 9, 2021
(Fox News)

The Republican written map would tilt the state’s First Congressional District toward the GOP, while further cementing the Democrats’ advantage in the Second Congressional District.

The First District, which currently stretches from the Manchester area east to the Seacoast and north through the Lakes Region to the White Mountains, was last won by a Republican in 2014, when former Rep. Frank Guinta reclaimed the seat. The Second District, which covers the western half of the state – including Concord – and stretches through the North Country to the Canadian border, has been controlled for a decade by Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster.

The maps proposed by Republican lawmakers would create a First District that climbs up from the southeast corner through the middle of the state, with the 2nd District reaching up and around it. GOP strongholds in southern New Hampshire including Salem, Hudson, Windham and Atkinson would move into the First District, while heavily Democratic areas in the Seacoast – including Portsmouth, Dover and Durham – would shift to the Second District.

The governor for months had raised concerns about his party’s maps, saying he believes that Republicans can still win in the Second District.

The New Hampshire State House, in Concord, N.H. in April of 2017
(Fox News )

“What you have to appreciate is that New Hampshire is a purple state. I think both seats are always in play,” Sununu told local TV station WMUR last week. “I don’t like the maps. That’s been made clear I think time and again,” the governor emphasized.

The governor said last week that he had offered suggestions to state Republican lawmakers and was still “very hopeful” that the map would be altered by the state Senate. But in a 13-11 vote, the chamber passed the redistricting map. Only one Republican in the chamber, former U.S. Rep. Jeb Bradley, joined the Democrats in opposing the map.

Democrats in the legislature and the state Democratic Party had urged the governor to veto the GOP maps, which they argue are gerrymandered and unfair. And they also pointed out that the state wouldn’t be in the current situation if Sununu hadn’t vetoed a bill passed in 2019 by the then-Democratic controlled legislature that would have created an independent redistricting commission to replace the current legislative controlled process.

Leaders on the left thanked the governor for his veto.

“We are thankful that Governor Sununu has decided to keep his word, stand with the people of New Hampshire, and reject his party bosses by pledging to veo these clearly gerrymandered Congressional maps,” the progressive group 603 Forward said in a statement.

But some on the right were furious with Sununu’s move, taking to social media to vent their frustrations.

Fran Wendelboe, a veteran conservative activist in New Hampshire, told Fox News she thinks the governor “is pandering to the Democrats.”

Pointing to Sununu, who’s running this year for a fourth two-year term as governor, Wendelboe said “there’s a lot of conservative people on the right who are pretty upset and dreaming of another candidate to emerge that they could get behind that could have a chance.” But she acknowledged “that’s pretty slim.”

New Hampshire isn’t the only state where there’s friction between a Republican governor and a GOP controlled legislature over redistricting.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses a joint session of a legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday reiterated his pledge to veto the map passed by the GOP majorities in the state House and Senate. 

DeSantis has made it clear he has legal concerns over the new map of the state’s 28 congressional districts – mostly over issues that the map protects minority majority districts that the governor and his team have questioned.

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