Putting an end to the will-he-or-won't-he speculation, Gov Chris Sununu announced Thursday afternoon that he's officially endorsing Chuck Morse in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.
"We Republicans here in New Hampshire, we have a very big decision to make, and we have to get it right," Sununu said at a press conference, according to video posted to Twitter by Fox News national political reporter Paul Steinhauser. "We will be nominating New Hampshire's next United States Senator, and for the sake of this great state, we have to defeat Maggie Hassan in November, and the best candidate to do that is Chuck Morse."
In a statement, Morse said he's honored to have the support of Sununu, with whom he's spent the past six years "bringing New Hampshire back to personal & fiscal responsibility."
Morse, currently president of the NH Senate, is jockeying for a chance to challenge Hassan, the incumbent Democrat, in November. But first he has to beat several Republican candidates in Tuesday's primary, including frontrunner General Don Bolduc.
Although polls have shown Bolduc with an imposing lead, Morse has recently gotten "a frantic burst of spending" from establishment Republicans at the national level who worry Bolduc might lack the traits and resources needed to win against Hassan, as Dan Merica reported for CNN. Analysts with Sabato's Crystal Ball said this week that Morse winning the primary could make the general election more competitive than if Bolduc advances.
One in five likely GOP primary voters remained undecided late last month about their Senate pick, according to a Granite State Poll conducted by the UNH Survey Center. Among those undecideds, 21% said Sununu's endorsement would make them more likely to vote for that candidate, while 7% said they would be less likely to vote for a Sununu-endorsed candidate.
Among that same group of undecideds, 41% said an endorsement from former President Donald Trump would make them more likely to vote for that candidate, though another 36% said they would be less likely to vote for a Trump-endorsed candidate.
Trump hasn't said whether he, too, will weigh in on this race. He recently called Sununu and discussed the Senate primary, among other topics, as Kevin Landrigan reported for the Union Leader. Trump has spoken positively of Bolduc but reportedly has been "'looking strongly' at whether to make an endorsement."
Sununu has long been viewed as favoring Morse, especially as Sununu has called Bolduc a conspiracy theorist type of candidate.
The other major GOP candidates in this race are Kevin Smith, Bruce Fenton and Vikram Mansharamani – who all appeared with Bolduc and Morse on a debate stage Wednesday night at New England College and who will appear together again Thursday night for WMUR's Granite State Debates.