A potential political rival for Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledged the Florida Governor has the momentum for a presidential run.
“Obviously Ron DeSantis is looking to run for President, which is fine,” said New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. “He’d probably win New Hampshire right now, without a doubt.”
Sununu spoke about the 2024 presidential election in an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. Asked by host Dana Bash is Sununu was considering a run for President himself, he said “yes.”
He suggested most prospects will wait until later this year to make their intentions known. “I think other candidates will look to get in this spring or into the summer,” he said.
Sununu notably has lobbed criticisms at DeSantis’ fiscal policies from afar for years, laying the groundwork for a presidential primary fight. Last year, Sununu criticized DeSantis for signing legislation allowing collection of sales taxes for online purchases, which has resulted in the collection of more than a billion in new state revenues.
He made no such attacks on DeSantis in his appearance on CNN, but suggested early polling could change in the coming presidential primary.
Bash pointed to results of a University of New Hampshire poll released this week that show DeSantis leading among likely primary voters in New Hampshire with 42% support. Former President Donald Trump pulls in 30% support. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley polls at 8%. Sununu, despite being a native son, brings in just 4%.
“I’m surprised I’m on that poll at all, frankly, because we haven’t really been talking about that,” Sununu said.
Bash noted only Trump has formally announced he’s running. But Sununu suggested all voters know DeSantis will jump in.
“Obviously DeSantis and Trump are the two candidates, right,” he said. “Whether he’s declared or not. Okay (DeSantis is) not publicly declared but he has hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Sununu offered praise to a number of prospective candidates, including Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, the latter of whom made no showing in the New Hampshire poll.
New Hampshire holds outsized importance in presidential elections thanks to its traditional place as the first primary held in the nation. Sununu suggested that gives him an important platform not only for a run himself but maybe in shaping the field of prospects.
“As kind of the referee of the first-in-the-nation primary, I’ll have some opportunity there to pull some levers and really make sure that we’re holding the candidates accountable,” he said.
That includes elevating candidates or pushing them out of the race if they don’t prove viability. He suggested presidential hopefuls who can’t secure 5% of the vote in early races — a threshold he conspicuously hasn’t reached in his own state yet — need to become realistic quickly.
“We don’t want a crowded field here,” he said.
“Make a good run at it. But if it ain’t happening, you’ve got to pull out and leave it to the two, three or four candidates.”