Chris Sununu vs. Colin Van Ostern: Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For 2016 New Hampshire Governor’s Race

Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide for the Chris Sununu vs. Colin Van Ostern Governor’s race? One that will give you an accurate, no-spin comparison of the candidates’ positions on key issues? Our Campus Election Engagement Project is a national nonpartisan initiative working to increase student electoral participation. At the request of the schools we work with, we’ve created concise nonpartisan candidate guides for the presidential race, for the importance of the 2016 election on future Supreme Court decisions, and for 20 Senate and Governor’s races, including this Governor’s race. Our lead researcher spent 19 years as a senior editor at Encyclopedia Britannica, and we invite readers to share this and our other guides as widely as possible

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Chris Sununu and Colin Van Ostern. Visit our Nonpartisan Candidate Guides home page to find links to all our other guides, including the New Hampshire Senate Guide, with most available in both online/mobile friendly and printable PDF formats.


Abortion: Should abortion be highly restricted?

Sununu: Pro-choice but supports parental notification and opposes partial birth and taxpayer-funded abortions.

Van Ostern: No. Strong advocate for women making their own health care decisions without political interference.

Campaign Finance: Do you support increasing restrictions on campaign donations?

Sununu: Supports “broader campaign finance disclosure laws” but specifics unknown.

Van Ostern: Advocates for disclosure of all contributions.

Climate Change: Believe that human activity is the major factor driving climate change?

Sununu: No. Insists that there is no scientific consensus.

Van Ostern: Yes. “One of the most critical challenges.”

Climate Change: Should government limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?

Sununu: No. Focus on pro-growth business environment free from repressive regulations.

Van Ostern: Yes

Education: Increase funding for K-12 education?

Sununu: Unclear, but wants to “gut the Board of Education” as needless bureaucracy and reject federal mandates.

Van Ostern: Yes. Raise tobacco tax to put more money into K-12 and support all-day kindergarten.

Education: Provide vouchers to parents to send their children to private schools with public money?

Sununu: Yes. Supports as issue of parental choice.

Van Ostern: No. Tax dollars supporting voucher programs are badly needed in the public schools.

Education: Increase funding for higher education?

Sununu: No new revenue proposed, but would prioritize reducing college debt and strengthening partnerships between community colleges and New Hampshire businesses.

Van Ostern: Supports increased funding, but also low-cost alternatives like Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America that he helped create.

Gay Rights: Support gay marriage? Should private employers have the right to discriminate toward customers based on sexual preference?

Sununu: Unclear. Has been hands-off regarding NH gay marriage law and generally silent on the issue. Has said “private businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone they want.”

Van Ostern: Supports gay marriage. Strong supporter of anti-discrimination laws.

Gun Control: Enact more restrictive gun control legislation?

Sununu: No. If elected, will sign legislation to carry concealed guns without requiring permits.

Van Ostern: Yes. More comprehensive background checks.

Healthcare: Repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?

Sununu: Yes. Repeal & replace.

Van Ostern: Yes

Healthcare: Accept federal funds so Medicaid will cover people earning up to 138% of the federal poverty line?

Sununu: No[1]

Van Ostern: Yes. Wants to make it permanent.

Marijuana: Decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?

Sununu: Yes. Support appropriate decriminalization.

Van Ostern: Yes. Decriminalize small amounts for recreational use.

Minimum Wage: Raise the minimum wage?

Sununu: Could potentially support “responsible increase” in federal minimum wage, but opposes a NH minimum wage and any $10 or higher federal minimum wage

Van Ostern: Supports raising federal minimum wage and also restoring NH’s state minimum wage law.

Prisons: Support privatized prisons?

Sununu: Yes

Van Ostern: No

Renewable Energy: Support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?

Sununu: Says supports in general, but has repeatedly opposed specific renewable energy projects and commuter rail.[2]

Van Ostern: Yes. Support for renewable energy is a top priority.

Taxes: Increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?

Sununu: No Sales or Income Tax and no expansion of current taxes. Pledged to oppose “any or all” tax increases to raise revenue.

Van Ostern: Would veto sales or income tax if passed by legislature. Supports tobacco tax increase to fund education.

Unions: Support “right to work” laws that make union dues optional even with signed labor agreements?

Sununu: Yes, Says will attract business to NH.[3]

Van Ostern: Opposes “right to work” legislation.

Voting Rights: Support stricter voting rules such as voter ID requirements or reduced registration times, even if they prevent some people from voting?

Sununu: Unknown

Van Ostern: Unknown


Other gubernatorial candidates include Max Abramson (L) and Jilletta Jarvis (I). Due to limited space, we can’t include their positions, but invite you to check out their websites.

Created by the Campus Election Engagement Project, a non-partisan effort to help college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders engage their schools in the election. Key sites consulted included,,,, ,, and public candidate statements. For a guide to all races, see, from the League of Women Voters, and


[2] See WMUR summary of major NH candidate stands on energy

[3] Right-to-work laws prohibit workers from collective bargaining for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

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