Chris Sununu, governor of New Hampshire, departs after speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.
CNN  — 

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, widely considered to be Senate Republicans’ top recruit in the country, took a pass on the race Tuesday morning, a clear blow for a GOP that was hoping to build momentum off of their strong showing in the 2021 elections.

“I’d rather push myself 120 miles-per-hour delivering wins for New Hampshire than to slow down and end up on Capitol Hill debating partisan politics without results,” Sununu said by way of explanation.

The decision – not to mention the harsh words for Washington – were met with frustration by party strategists.

“Unbelievable,” tweeted Josh Holmes, a longtime adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, moments after the news broke.

That sentiment was everywhere in the wake of Sununu’s announcement as the prevailing wisdom had been that he was an all-but-certain candidate against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan next November. Because the party leaders expected Sununu to run, they left him to his own timeline – and largely avoided actively recruiting people into the race unless and until they knew what the governor was going to do.

Sununu’s decision then not only comes as a bit of a shock and letdown for national Republican strategists but also creates a problem as the party must find another credible challenger to Hassan – and do it fast. (One name you are likely to hear a lot is former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who lost her seat to Hassan in 2016.)

It also has reverberations outside of New Hampshire.