In this June 3, 2021, file photo, Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu speaks at the annual Hillsborough County GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire. Credit: Elise Amendola / AP

CONCORD, New Hampshire — Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday he’ll seek a fourth term and won’t run for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan, dashing GOP hopes that he could help recapture the Senate for the party.

Sununu’s popularity — he won reelection last year by more than 30 percentage points and his family has long held powerful positions in New Hampshire and Washington — had fueled Republican hopes of returning Hassan’s seat to the GOP.

Democrats now hold a 50-50 majority in the Senate by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris’ role as a tiebreaking vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had publicly urged Sununu to run.

At a news conference, Sununu acknowledged that many Republicans had urged him to enter the Senate race.

“I appreciate everything they’ve said and the confidence they have in me, but this is about New Hampshire, not about Washington,” he said.

But he said he thought Republicans can win back the Senate without him.

“It’s not just Chris Sununu who can win that race,” he said. “Just being a placeholder for a couple of years, there’s a role for that… but that doesn’t fit the skillset and the responsibility I have to New Hampshire.”

Hassan, who served two terms as governor and three terms in the state Senate, is the second woman in U.S. history to serve as both governor and senator. New Hampshire’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, who defeated Sununu’s brother, John E. Sununu, in 2008 was the first.

Sununu, a reluctant supporter of Donald Trump’s in 2016, backed Trump’s reelection bid in 2020, even calling himself a “Trump guy through and through.” But Democrat Joe Biden easily won New Hampshire last year, and Sununu rejected the former president’s false claims of mass voter fraud in the state.

The Sununu family is a longstanding political dynasty in the state. Chris Sununu’s father, John H. Sununu, was governor from 1983–89 and later served as White House chief of staff under President George H.W. Bush. John E. Sununu served in the U.S. House in addition to his one term in the Senate.

At least two other Republicans have already entered the race to face Hassan; retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, who unsuccessfully sought the nomination to challenge Shaheen in 2020, and Tejasinha Sivalingam.

The New Hampshire governor serves for two years, and there are no term limits.

Story by Holly Ramer.