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John Sununu, Jr.

John Sununu, Jr.

John Edward Sununu (born September 10, 1964) is a former Republican (GOP) United States Senator from New Hampshire. Sununu was the youngest member of the Senate for his entire six-year term. He is the son of former New Hampshire Governor John H. Sununu. On November 4, 2008, Sununu lost his re-election bid to former governor Jeanne Shaheen.[1]

Early life, education, and business career

Sununu, one of eight siblings, was born in BostonMassachusetts, the son of Nancy (née Hayes) and former Governor of New Hampshire and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu.[2] His father’s ancestors came to the United States from the Middle East around the start of the 20th century. His paternal ancestry is Palestinian from the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem community in Jerusalem. Despite the family’s mainly ancestry from Jerusalem, some members of the family were from Beirut, in what is today Lebanon. His father, John, was born in HavanaCuba. Most of the last two generations of Sununus were also born in the United States.[3] His mother’s ancestors include immigrants from Ireland, as well as Scotlandand England.[2]

Sununu earned both B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986 and 1987, respectively. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University in 1991. After graduating, he worked in the high-tech industry, at one time for the company of Dean Kamen and as a management consultant for PRTM.

U.S. House of Representatives


In 1996, incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman Bill Zeliff decided to run for Governor of New Hampshire. Sununu defeated Democrat Joe Keefe with 50% of the vote.[4] In 1998, he won re-election with 67% of the vote.[5] In 2000, he won re-election defeating Democrat Martha Fuller Clark with 53% of the vote.


In 1999, New Hampshire’s Christian Coalition gave “pro-family” awards to both New Hampshire Representatives, Sununu and Charles Bass, honoring the vote by both men to impeach President Bill Clinton.[6]

On November 8, 2000, the Boston Globe noted Sununu’s defeat of Democratic newcomer Martha Fuller Clark, noting that Sununu had “one of the House’s most conservative voting records”—opposing abortion and increased minimum wages while favoring school vouchers and the death penalty.[7] He earned a 100% rating from the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste. He has also been presented the “Spirit of Enterprise Award” by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the “Guardian of Small Business Award” by the National Federation of Independent Business, and the “Friend of the Taxpayer Award” by the Americans for Tax Reform.[8]

Committee assignments

He served on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees. He held subcommittee seats on the Veterans Administration-Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, the Treasury Postal Subcommittee, and the District of Columbia Appropriations Subcommittee, and also served as a member of the Republican Policy Committee.[9][10]

U.S. Senate



In 2002, Sununu ran for a United States Senate seat from New Hampshire. In the Republican primary, he defeated the Republican incumbent Bob Smith 54%–45%. In the November election, he subsequently defeated Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen 51%–46%. The election was marred by members of the Republican Party who organized the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal which disrupted Democratic efforts.


In a rematch, Shaheen defeated Sununu 52% to 45%. She won all of the counties except for CarrollBelknap, and Rockingham counties.[11] Sununu slightly outperformed McCain, who also got about 45% of the vote but didn’t win any counties.


According to a Washington Post study, Sununu voted with the Republican Party’s position 84% of the time. However, he broke with his party on prominent issues, joining Democrats in filibusters of the USA PATRIOT Act[12] and the Bush Administration’s 2003 energy bill.[13] Sununu strongly supported greater access to firearms, voting against the proposed renewal of the 1994Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004. He strongly opposed amnesty for illegal aliens, voting against the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill in July 2007. Sununu called for a tougher federal regulator for government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and with Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), he filed a dramatic overhaul of regulation of the insurance industry.[14] A long proponent of technology, in January 2007, Sununu called for a permanent ban on taxes of Internet connections and online sales.[14]

Sununu was one of only three senators whose voting record received a score of 100% from the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, in both 2005 and 2006, tying for 1st place. However, his rating fell to 23rd place in 2007, and to 34th place in 2008.[1] The Club for Growth endorsed[15] Sununu’s unsuccessful bid for re-election in February 2007 against Jeanne Shaheen (she subsequently during 2009–2012 earned Club for Growth ratings of 64th place to 100th place).[2]

In 2007, Sununu was the lead Republican co-sponsor of the Clean Air Planning Act of 2007 which sought to address air quality and climate change by establishing a schedule to reduce harmful emissions from power plants—in particular, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides—as well as decrease carbon dioxide emissions through a cap-and-trade system. The legislation, which was never enacted, also addressed mercury pollution, calling for a 90% reduction in emissions of the chemical by 2015.[16] He also supported the bipartisan Clean Energy Stimulus Act of 2008 that provides tax incentives for the development of clean and renewable energy sources.[17] In 2006 Sununu sponsored the bipartisan New England Wilderness Act which added tens of thousand of acres of land to federally protected forests.[18] Sununu opposed the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, which would have also created a cap-and-trade program. His vote was criticized by the New Hampshire Democratic Party which claimed that he had acted “against reducing greenhouse gases”. The New Hampshire Union Leader praised his decision, citing the Energy Information Agency’s estimation that the legislation would cost the American economy $507 billion over 22 years.[19]

Sununu took a few positions contrary to the Bush administration and the Republican leadership. Though he voted for the flag-burning amendment, he voted against theFederal Marriage Amendment and he opposed restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba, and was one of only two Republicans to vote in favor of terminating funds for TV Martí, which broadcasts anti-Castro programming in Cuba. He was one of a small group of Republicans to vote in favor of banning loans to China for any nuclear projects, and in September 2005 he voted to disapprove a new rule set in place by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delisting coal and other energy sources from the Clean Air Act.

He also became well known as one of the five Republican Senators who joined Democrats in a filibuster of the USA PATRIOT Act renewal conference report, concerned about possible negative impacts the bill had on civil liberties.[20] This caused the Republican leadership to extend the original legislation until a compromise bill was forged.[20]

In January 2006, at a hearing in front of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on the Broadcast Flag, Sununu was one of the very few present to criticize the legislation, saying “In all cases [of previous technological advancements in the US], we didn’t need to step in with a significant statutory government-regulated mandate on technology that consumers use to enjoy this material”.[21]

In October 2006, Sununu voted against a portion of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that would suspend the right of habeas corpus for non-citizen detainees. After voting in favor of the final bill, he defended his vote by telling reporters “The Constitution is not a suicide pact“.[22]

On March 14, 2007, Sununu became the first Republican senator to call for the firing of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales after a controversy over U.S. Attorney firings. Sununu cited his anger with the mismanagement by Gonzales and the lack of trustworthiness by GOP Senators towards Gonzales.[23]

In July 2005, Sununu shaved his head to show solidarity with Senator Arlen Specter, who had lost his hair due to chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease.[24]

In September 2008, Sununu became one of twenty senators (ten Democrats and ten Republicans) co-sponsoring a bipartisan energy bill, the New Energy Reform Act of 2008. The bill was offered as an alternative to the Democrats’ energy bill, sponsored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Both bills proposed to increase offshore drilling, while promoting conservation and alternative energy. The “Gang of Twenty” bill also lets coastal states participate in decisions and in revenue about drilling in the fifty-to-one-hundred-mile range off their coasts. It also differs from the Democrats’ bill in allowing drilling off Florida’s west coast, a proposal both Florida’s senators have protested. To quote the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Nearly every potentially vulnerable Senate Republican, from Norm Coleman [of Minnesota] to Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and John Sununu of New Hampshire, has signed on to the legislation.”[25]

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Finance
  • Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    • Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security
    • Subcommittee on Interstate Commerce, Trade, and Tourism
    • Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard
    • Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Innovation
    • Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics, and Related Agencies
  • Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    • Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration (Ranking Member)
    • Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
    • Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security
  • Joint Economic Committee

Post political career

Sununu currently sits on the Board of Managers of ConvergEx Holdings, a holding company for BNY ConvergEx Group, an affiliate of Bank of New York Mellon, which holds a 33.8% stake in BNY ConvergEx Group.[26] These days, he is often seen in the hallways of Saint Anselm College‘s New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

On July 7, 2010, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP announced that Sununu was joining the firm as an adjunct senior policy advisor.[27] Akin Gump is one of the largest law firms and lobbying firms in Washington, D.C.[28]

Sununu was appointed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to serve on the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) for the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, whose purpose is to assess how the TARP program is working, in order to help Congress determine whether to continue injecting capital into the financial sector.[29]

Sununu is a regular op-ed contributor to the Boston Globe.

Prior to the 2014 Election Cycle, speculation had abounded that he would pursue a rematch against Shaheen, but in April 2013 he said that he would not run for his old seat.[30]

Personal life

Sununu and his wife, Catherine (“Kitty”), have three children: John, (Catherine) Grace, and Charlotte.

Electoral history

New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district: Results 1996–2000[31]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1996 Joe Keefe 115,462 47% John E. Sununu 123,939 50% Gary A. Flanders Libertarian 8,176 3%
1998 Peter Flood 51,783 33% John E. Sununu 104,430 67%
2000 Martha Fuller Clark 128,387 45% John E. Sununu 150,609 53% Dan Belforti Libertarian 5,713 2%
New Hampshire Senator (Class II) results: 2002–2008[31]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2002 Jeanne Shaheen 207,478 46% John E. Sununu 227,229 51% Ken Blevens Libertarian 9,835 2% Bob Smith Write-in 2,396 1% *
2008 Jeanne Shaheen 357,153 52% John E. Sununu 312,601 45% Ken Blevens Libertarian 21,381 3%

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2002, write-ins received 197 votes.


  1. Jump up^ Ramer, Holly (November 4, 2008). “New Hampshire’s Shaheen achieves another first”USA Today (Associated Press). Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  2. Jump up to:a b “Hosted by rootsweb: John Edward Sununu” Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  3. Jump up^ “Behind the Sununu Surname”The New York Times. November 21, 1988. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  4. Jump up^
  5. Jump up^
  6. Jump up^ Berke, Richard L. (February 8, 1999). “THE PRESIDENT’S TRIAL: THE CONSERVATIVES; Coalition Still Driving To Impeach”The New York Times. Retrieved April 6,2008.
  7. Jump up^ Jimenez, Ralph (November 8, 2000). “Bass, Sununu declare victory over newcomers”Boston Globe. Retrieved July 3, 2007.
  8. Jump up^
  9. Jump up^
  10. Jump up^
  11. Jump up^
  12. Jump up^ Donnelly, Julie (December 15, 2005). “NH Senator Sununu Promises to Hold-Up Patriot Act”New Hampshire Public Radio. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  13. Jump up^ Hulse, Carl (November 21, 2003). “Filibuster Blocks $31 Billion Energy Bill in Senate”. The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2009.[dead link]
  14. Jump up to:a b Herszenhorn, David M. “John E. Sununu Profile”. The New York Times. Retrieved November 22, 2009.
  15. Jump up^ Youngman, Sam (February 27, 2007). “Sununu Wins Club For Growth Backing in ’08 Bid”The Hill. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  16. Jump up^ 110th Congress (April 20, 2007). “S. 1177: Clean Air Planning Act of 2007”GovTrack. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  17. Jump up^ “U.S. Senate Introduces Bipartisan Renewable Energy Tax Credit Legislation”Renewable Energy World. April 4, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  18. Jump up^ “Senate Unanimously Passes New England Wilderness Act”U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. September 19, 2006. Retrieved December 17, 2009.[dead link]
  19. Jump up^ “Green Sununu: NH vs. Washington Values”New Hampshire Union Leader. April 27, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  20. Jump up to:a b “Senate ends filibuster of Patriot Act”The Washington Times. February 17, 2006. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  21. Jump up^ McCullagh, Declan (January 24, 2006). “Senate may hoist broadcast flag again” Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  22. Jump up^ Chaddock, Gail Russell (October 2, 2006). “In fog of war on terror, some rules set”The Christian Science Monitor. p. 2. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  23. Jump up^ “GOP senator calls for Gonzales’ head”CNN. March 15, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  24. Jump up^ “Sununu Shaves Head for Specter”. Political Wire. July 24, 2005. Retrieved November 22, 2009.
  25. Jump up^ Anderson, Mitch (September 12, 2008). “Klobuchar joins bipartisan energy group”Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  26. Jump up^ “Former U.S. Senator John Sununu Appointed to the Board of Managers of ConvergEx Holdings”PR Newswire. February 25, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  27. Jump up^ “Former U.S. Senator John Sununu Joins Akin Gump”. [PR Newswire]. July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  28. Jump up^ “Lobbying Spending Database”. []. July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  29. Jump up^ Johnston, Nicholas (December 17, 2008). “Republican Senator John Sununu Named to TARP Oversight Board” Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  30. Jump up^ DiStaso, John (April 12, 2013). “Former Sen. John E. Sununu Won’t Run for Office in 2014” Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  31. Jump up to:a b “Election Statistics”. Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved August 8, 2007.