New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said Thursday that he would reject the congressional map passed by his own party in the state legislature, which aggressively targeted Democrat Chris Pappas by making his district more Republican.
Sununu was critical of an earlier draft of the map, and after no notable changes were made in the legislature, he announced Thursday that he’d veto it.
“The proposed Congressional redistricting map is not in the best interest of New Hampshire and I will veto it as soon as it reaches my desk. The citizens of this state are counting on us to do better,” he said in a statement.
The map would have put Pappas, a top target for House Republicans in recent cycles, in a much more GOP-heavy district by replacing Democratic cities with Republican-leaning towns. It would also have made Democrat Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s seat more Democratic.
The Republican governor’s main objection to the map is that he wants both congressional seats to be up for grabs, rather than just having one safe Democratic seat and one safe Republican seat.
“I never think anyone should look at a map for the next election, that’s naive,” Sununu told WMUR. “The idea of always keeping those seats in play keeps what we already have, [which] is a very engaged voter electorate, it keeps them even more engaged.”
Sununu’s decision sets him apart from other governors of either party who have sought to strengthen their party’s advantage through redistricting. Republicans in other states who are still redrawing congressional lines have drawn aggressively partisan maps to create more GOP gains. Only three other states have yet to finish their congressional redistricting: Louisiana, Missouri and Florida.
Republican state senators in Missouri are at an impasse over whether to push for a map that maintains the status quo, or shores up a Republican-leaning seat. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis inserted himself into the redistricting debate in his state in February by proposing a map that would carve out two districts with large Black populations. He has said he would veto a compromise map passed by the Republican-led legislature.
The fourth quarter push by state Republicans to be more aggressive with redistricting comes at the end of a redistricting cycle that’s favored Democrats so far. There are 170 Democratic leaning seats of the 46 states that have completed the redrawing process, according to data analyzed from official maps on Dave’s Redistricting App. This is a net gain of 11 seats compared to how the last decade’s maps in these states performed.
There are 151 projected Republican leaning seats this far in the cycle, down from 152 in the last decade’s maps in these states. Competitive seats saw the biggest decrease, with 70 in the maps completed this cycle and 81 based on the last decade of maps.
In New Hampshire, Republicans hold slim majorities in the House and Senate and cannot override Sununu’s veto.
In a statement Thursday, Pappas welcomed Sununu’s impending veto.
“For well over 100 years, our districts have remained largely unchanged, and in recent decades both districts have been among the most competitive in the country. New Hampshire voters are better served because of that,” he wrote.
Aaron Navarro is an associate producer for the political unit at CBS News, focusing on House and gubernatorial campaigns as well as the census and redistricting.