Not since his father, former Gov. John H. Sununu, eked out his own closely fought race in 1982 has New Hampshire seen a Republican gubernatorial primary as tight as the one Chris Sununu won this week.
But in the end, there didn’t appear to be any hard feelings between Chris Sununu and opponent Frank Edelblut, who came in second place by less than one percent.
“Actually, that was the funnest part – the roller coaster,” Edelblut recalled, shortly after conceding the race Wednesday afternoon. “Everybody was like all nervous and I was like, this is kind of cool, actually? 28! 29! 29! 28! It went back and forth, that was kind of fun — I mean, as opposed to just sort of boring.”
Despite the tough race, Edelblut was quick to concede once the results were in – and pledged to campaign enthusiastically for Sununu moving forward.
“I am happy — happy — that I will have the opportunity to vote for Chris Sununu for governor because he is going to help us build that economy for the citizens of New Hampshire,” Edelblut told reporters. “And I am excited about that. And we are going to defeat Colin Van Ostern in the election on Nov. 8. and he better pay attention, because we’re coming.”
At a joint press conference shortly after the results were firmed up, the two former rivals were eager to show their solidarity heading into the general election.
“Frank and his team ran an incredible race. An incredible race, an incredible ground game. They had a great message,” Sununu said. “So to stand here with Frank Edelblut and accept his support just means the world to me, and I can’t thank him enough.”
The fact that Edelblut, a first-term state representative from Wilton and a relative newcomer to politics, came as close as he did to his party’s nomination was a surprise to many observers — especially in a race against someone with Sununu’s name recognition and deep ties to New Hampshire politics.
Still, Edelblut benefited from strong grassroots support and the backing of plenty of groups with ties to the state’s conservative base: the 603 Alliance, the New Hampshire Conservative Majority Project and New Hampshire Right to Life, to name a few.
“You know, we had a great ground game, great groundswell of support – really, grassroots support in this campaign,” Edelblut said. “hese people were active, and you could see that in all the events that we went to, whether it was a parade or even just last night at our party.”
From here, Sununu will face off against Democratic nominee and fellow executive councilor Colin Van Ostern in the general election.
As for Edelblut? He told reporters he’s focused on helping Sununu for now, but he told supporters in a Facebook post to stay tuned – he has more plans in store from here.