Campaign Countdown: The race for New Hampshire governor

Published: Oct. 11, 2018 at 6:48 PM EDT
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We are counting down to Campaign 2018 with a look at the race for governor in the Granite State. First term Republican incumbent Chris Sununu has high approval ratings. But his Democratic opponent, Molly Kelly, is hoping to ride a blue wave of support into the corner office.

As Molly Kelly recently toured an apple orchard in Londonderry, the Democrat said she's running for governor for the working families of New Hampshire. "I want to build a New Hampshire that provides opportunities and possibilities for everyone and not just a few," she said.

Kelly served in the New Hampshire Senate for 10 years and she says the statehouse, under Republican governor Chris Sununu, needs a change in leadership. "I think he is out of touch with what working families are challenged with every day," Kelly said.

"Leadership isn't about just saying something, it's actually about putting action behind it," Sununu said. As Sununu toured a tractor store in Pembroke, he said his accomplishments speak for themselves -- pointing to child welfare reform, full day kindergarten, and investments in the mental health system. "We have the most robust economy in the state's history. We have 2.6 percent unemployment. We have the highest wage growth in the northeast."

Sununu says it's getting done by reducing taxes on small businesses and cutting unnecessary regulation. "When times are good you cut taxes. You provide flexibility to small businesses and employees and you let the economy not just grow naturally, but create opportunities," he said.

Sununu says his opponent will rollback those cuts, and points to past attempts by democrats to raise fees.

But the Live Free or Die state prides itself on not having an income or sales tax and Kelly is taking the no-tax pledge. "And I will say it again -- I do not support a sales or income tax and I will veto a sales or income tax," she said.

On the campaign trail, Kelly has been focusing on her support for a state-operated paid family leave plan, which Sununu is against. She raised three kids as a single mom. "I lived it. I know what that is like to have to make a choice about being worried about losing a job or putting food on the table or paying your mortgage or your rent," Kelly said.

"They've supported a program that our own commissioner said was not financially solvent, that was essentially a backdoor income tax," Sununu said.

The candidates also disagree on legalizing marijuana.

And then there's Donald Trump. We asked both candidates to say one thing they like and dislike about the President. Kelly struggled with the question. "I can't agree with anything that our president is doing today," she said.

Sununu failed to offer any criticism. "His attempts at regulatory reform has been very successful. His tax cuts truly have worked," Sununu said.

And while it is not unheard of for a governor in New Hampshire to be unseated after just one term, it is very rare. The experts say ultimately the race could come down to turnout and whether democrats can get voters to the polls. The democrats had record turnout during the recent primary.

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