A digital poster advertising a political fundraiser to be held Sept. 28 in Manchester features headshots for three New Hampshire politicians: Governor Chris Sununu, mayoral candidate Jay Ruais, and former US senator Kelly Ayotte, who’s running for governor.
Sununu has endorsed Ruais in the 2023 mayoral race, but he has yet to endorse anyone in the 2024 gubernatorial contest. So political observers quickly took note of his planned appearance with Ayotte, considering the conspicuous absence of her Republican primary opponent, Chuck Morse, former president of the New Hampshire Senate.
It’s reasonable to wonder when the popular Republican incumbent governor, who’s not seeking reelection, might throw his weight behind a GOP contender in the race to succeed him. But organizers for this fundraiser advised against reading too much into the event lineup.
Brian D. Cole, a Republican state representative who’s running for school committeeman in Manchester’s Ward 7, serves as chair of the Common Sense Conservatives PAC, which is hosting the fundraiser. He said Morse was invited but could not attend due to a scheduling conflict.
A senior advisor to Morse, David Carney, said the candidate will be at a harvest festival that evening in Atkinson, where he operates Freshwater Farms, his landscaping and garden center business.
A spokesperson for Sununu, Ben Vihstadt, said the governor hasn’t made an endorsement in the gubernatorial contest, though he has repeatedly said he expects to do so at some point.
Cole said those who attend the $100-per-person fundraiser can expect to hear speeches from Sununu and Ayotte, but the PAC isn’t taking a side in the gubernatorial contest. Rather, the PAC is supporting Republican-aligned candidates in Manchester’s nonpartisan municipal election.
“Even though it’s nonpartisan in the city, people generally know who the Republican and Democratic candidates are,” he said.
With that in mind, the headshots featured on that digital poster for the Sept. 28 fundraiser may be best understood as an expression of confidence that Jay Ruais will be one of the two mayoral candidates who advance from the city’s Sept. 19 primary to the Nov. 7 general election showdown. Otherwise, he’ll be a former mayoral candidate when the fundraiser happens.
Cavanaugh is favored by some key players in the Democratic establishment. His endorsers include labor unions, outgoing mayor Joyce Craig, and Senator Maggie Hassan. That said, Stewart and Trisciani have each rolled out local endorsement lists of their own, so we’ll see who advances after voters make their pick on Sept. 19.
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