Gov. Chris Sununu’s legal counsel received many endorsements from state officials, law colleagues, friends and acquaintances Thursday to be New Hampshire’s next attorney general.

The Executive Council held a public hearing on John Formella, who has worked with Sununu since the governor took office in 2017. If confirmed, he would succeed Gordon MacDonald, who was sworn in this month as chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Many people spoke of Formella's strong relationships with state departments and his work ethic. Formella called the attorney general's job “the public service opportunity of a lifetime" and highlighted his work on helping with the state response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There was no playbook," Formella said. “Both I and the Department of Justice have wrestled with legal questions for which there were very few modern cases to guide us. To be sure, not everyone has agreed with our conclusions and legal analysis on every issue, but leadership requires making tough choices in the most challenging times, even when you know that some will not agree with you, and may even vocally oppose you, or take you to court."

During his speech and under questioning from the council's lone Democrat, Cinde Warmington, Formella admitted that his experience as a prosecutor, one of the attorney general's jobs, is limited. He said he would rely on the experience of seasoned assistant attorneys general in the department.

Warmington also asked Formella could be independent as attorney general, and Formella said he's confident he would be able to do that, as have former governor's counselors who have served in the role.

Previously, Formella worked in private practice in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.