Headed into the 2022 election cycle, Republican officials had a variety of specific goals, with one priority near the top of the list: convince New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu to run for the U.S. Senate.
To that end, party officials not only begged the GOP governor to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, they also pitched the idea that he'd love being a senator. Sununu told The Washington Examiner that the appeals very nearly worked — right up until he heard about his would-be colleagues' governing plans.
"I was pretty close," Sununu told the Washington Examiner this month during an interview. "I wasn't ready to make an announcement, but I was like, 'OK, this makes sense. I think I could be a voice nationally.'" Everything changed after the governor consulted with Republican senators about the aspects of serving on Capitol Hill and what to expect for at least the first two years on the job. Sununu did not like what he heard.
"They were all, for the most part, content with the speed at which they weren't doing anything," the governor added. "It was very clear that we just have to hold the line for two years. OK, so I'm just going to be a roadblock for two years. That's not what I do."
The Examiner's report added that Sununu spoke with most members of the Senate Republican Conference and found that virtually all of them intended to do nothing but obstruct until the next Republican presidency. "It bothered me that they were OK with that," Sununu said.
The governor went on to ask GOP senators why they didn't get things done when they held Congress and the White House in 2017 and 2018. "Crickets. Yeah, crickets," Sununu said. "They had no answer."
When the New Hampshire Republican announced his decision not to run for the Senate a few months ago, he specifically referenced his disdain for "the gridlock and politics of Washington." Now we know why.
Part of what makes revelations like these notable are the implications of the message. There are still a few congressional Democrats who claim to genuinely believe that Republicans are ready and eager to work in good faith toward compromise solutions. If only Democrats would give GOP lawmakers a chance, the argument goes, and participate in sincere bipartisan talks, a world of policy breakthroughs await.
I can only hope these Democrats consider what Sununu freely acknowledged: Behind the scenes, Republican senators not only admitted that they're not doing any real work, they boasted that they intend to keep rejecting real work until their party controls the White House again.
What's more, it's not just Sununu — and it's not just behind the scenes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last year that "100 percent" of his party's focus is on "stopping" President Joe Biden. Two months later, Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said he considered it the House GOP's job to stand in the way of legislative progress so that Republicans might benefit from the "chaos."
A few months after that, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin urged people to "pray for" legislative gridlock on Capitol Hill.
None of this is a secret. Some of the discussions unfold in private; some of the rhetoric is aired on national television. Democrats need not speculate about the GOP's governing intentions; prominent Republican voices often admit that they have no intention of working with the governing majority on policy solutions.
Now seems like an excellent time for the political world to believe them.