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John E. Sununu

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John E. Sununu
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2009
Preceded byBob Smith
Succeeded byJeanne Shaheen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Hampshire's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2003
Preceded byBill Zeliff
Succeeded byJeb Bradley
Personal details
John Edward Sununu

(1964-09-10) September 10, 1964 (age 59)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseCatherine Halloran (m. 1988)
RelationsJohn H. Sununu (father)
Chris Sununu (brother)
EducationMassachusetts Institute of Technology (BS, MS)
Harvard University (MBA)

John Edward Sununu (born September 10, 1964) is an American politician who served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 2003 and the U.S. Senate representing New Hampshire from 2003 to 2009. Sununu was the youngest member of the Senate for his entire six-year term. He also remains the only Salvadoran American ever elected to the U.S. Congress.

A Republican, he is the son of former New Hampshire Governor and former White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu, and the older brother of Chris Sununu, the current governor of New Hampshire. In 2008, Sununu lost his re-election bid to former governor Jeanne Shaheen.

Early life and education[edit]

Sununu, one of eight siblings, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Nancy (née Hayes) and former Governor of New Hampshire and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu.[1]

His father's paternal ancestors came to the United States from the Middle East around the start of the 20th century, while his paternal grandmother was an immigrant from El Salvador, born to a prominent Salvadoran family of Lebanese, Hispanic and Greek descent who were Greek Orthodox Christians. His father's paternal ancestry is Lebanese and Greek, both from the Greek Orthodox communities in Jerusalem. Despite the family's emigration from Jerusalem, some members of the family were from Beirut. His father's maternal ancestry was Greek and Hispanic.[2] His father, John, was born in Havana, Cuba. His paternal grandfather, also named John, was born in the United States, and 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 Scotland and England.[1]

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[edit]


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


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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

Committee assignments[edit]

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.[8][9]

U.S. Senate[edit]



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 every county but Carroll, Belknap, and Rockingham counties.[10] Sununu slightly outperformed Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the 2008 national election, as McCain got about 45% of the vote but did not 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[11] and the Bush Administration's 2003 energy bill.[12] Sununu strongly supported greater access to firearms, voting against the proposed renewal of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004. In 2006, he voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.[13] 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]

The non-partisan National Journal gave Sununu a composite rating of 65.8% conservative and 34% liberal in 2008.[15] 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.[16] The Club for Growth endorsed[17] 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).[18]

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.[19] He also supported the bipartisan Clean Energy Stimulus Act of 2008 that provides tax incentives for the development of clean and renewable energy sources.[20] In 2006 Sununu sponsored the bipartisan New England Wilderness Act which added tens of thousand of acres of land to federally protected forests.[21] 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.[22]

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 the Federal 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.[23] This caused the Republican leadership to extend the original legislation until a compromise bill was forged.[23]

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".[24]

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".[25]

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.[26]

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.[27]

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."[28]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • 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

Later career[edit]

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.[29]

On July 7, 2010, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP announced that Sununu was joining the firm as an adjunct senior policy advisor.[30] Akin Gump is one of the largest law firms and lobbying firms in Washington, D.C.[31]

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.[32]

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.[33]

On January 30, 2019, Lloyd's of London announced Sununu had been appointed to its governing council.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Sununu married Catherine (Kitty) Halloran on July 9, 1988. They have three children: John, (Catherine) Grace, and Charlotte.

Electoral history[edit]

New Hampshire's 1st congressional district: Results 1996–2000[35]
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 (incumbent) 104,430 67%
2000 Martha Fuller Clark 128,387 45% John E. Sununu (incumbent) 150,609 53% Dan Belforti Libertarian 5,713 2%
New Hampshire Senator (Class II) results: 2002–2008[35]
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 (incumbent) 312,601 45% Ken Blevens Libertarian 21,381 3%

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hosted by rootsweb: John Edward Sununu". Ancestry.com. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  2. ^ Hoffman, David (1988-11-20). "Sununu Describes his Diverse Roots, After Flood of Inquiries". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2022-06-19. His maternal grandmother, Sununu said, was Greek; his mother, Victoria Dada, was born in El Salvador. That part of his family "makes me part Greek American and part Hispanic American," he said. "It's a varied heritage, and I'm proud of it."
  3. ^ "Behind the Sununu Surname". The New York Times. November 21, 1988. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns - NH District 1 Race - Nov 03, 1998". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Jimenez, Ralph (November 8, 2000). "Bass, Sununu declare victory over newcomers". Boston Globe. Retrieved July 3, 2007.
  7. ^ "Arab Bankers Association of North America - Congressman John E. Sununu". 24 July 2012. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP | Lawyers & Advisors | John Sununu". Archived from the original on 2012-06-20. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  9. ^ "Almanac of American Politics 2004 - Sen. John Sununu (R) - New Hampshire". Archived from the original on 2012-02-02. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  10. ^ "Our Campaigns - NH US Senate Race - Nov 04, 2008". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
  11. ^ Donnelly, Julie (December 15, 2005). "NH Senator Sununu Promises to Hold-Up Patriot Act". New Hampshire Public Radio. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  12. ^ Hulse, Carl (November 21, 2003). "Filibuster Blocks $31 Billion Energy Bill in Senate". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  13. ^ "Constitutional Amendment on Marriage Fails". Fox News. 2006-06-08. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  14. ^ a b Herszenhorn, David M. "John E. Sununu Profile". The New York Times. Retrieved November 22, 2009.
  15. ^ "John Sununu's Ratings and Endorsements". votesmart.org.
  16. ^ "The 2015 Scorecard Methodology". Club for Growth. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  17. ^ Youngman, Sam (February 27, 2007). "Sununu Wins Club For Growth Backing in '08 Bid". The Hill. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  18. ^ "The 2015 Scorecard Methodology". Club for Growth. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  19. ^ 110th Congress (April 20, 2007). "S. 1177: Clean Air Planning Act of 2007". GovTrack. Retrieved December 17, 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ "U.S. Senate Introduces Bipartisan Renewable Energy Tax Credit Legislation". Renewable Energy World. April 4, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  21. ^ "Senate Unanimously Passes New England Wilderness Act". U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. September 19, 2006. Archived from the original on November 4, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  22. ^ "Green Sununu: NH vs. Washington Values". New Hampshire Union Leader. April 27, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  23. ^ a b "Senate ends filibuster of Patriot Act". The Washington Times. February 17, 2006. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  24. ^ McCullagh, Declan (January 24, 2006). "Senate may hoist broadcast flag again". CNET.com. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "GOP senator calls for Gonzales' head". CNN. March 15, 2007. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  27. ^ "Sununu Shaves Head for Specter". Political Wire. July 24, 2005. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2009.
  28. ^ Anderson, Mitch (September 12, 2008). "Klobuchar joins bipartisan energy group". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  29. ^ "Former U.S. Senator John Sununu Appointed to the Board of Managers of ConvergEx Holdings". PR Newswire. February 25, 2009. Archived from the original on February 28, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  30. ^ "Former U.S. Senator John Sununu Joins Akin Gump". [PR Newswire]. July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  31. ^ "Lobbying Spending Database". [Opensecrets.org]. July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  32. ^ Johnston, Nicholas (December 17, 2008). "Republican Senator John Sununu Named to TARP Oversight Board". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  33. ^ DiStaso, John (April 12, 2013). "Former Sen. John E. Sununu Won't Run for Office in 2014". unionleader.com. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  34. ^ "Lloyd's Appoints Former U.S. Senator Sununu as Member of Council". Insurance Journal. January 30, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  35. ^ a b "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2007.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Hampshire's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from New Hampshire
(Class 2)

2002, 2008
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 2) from New Hampshire
Served alongside: Judd Gregg
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Baby of the Senate
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Senator Order of precedence of the United States Succeeded byas Former US Senator