With loophole in bylaws, New Hampshire Young Democrats endorse Dan Feltes for state senate
The New Hampshire Young Democrats group has endorsed Concord attorney Dan Feltes in the primary race for the District 15 state Senate seat.
Feltes, 35, is competing with Concord School Board member Kass Ardinger to replace outgoing state Sen. Sylvia Larsen, who has held the seat for 20 years.
President Theo Groh said volunteers from the Young Democrats will be joining Feltes’s canvassing this weekend. He cited Feltes’s position on issues such as student loan debt and affordable housing, as well as his age, as reasons for the group’s support.
“I think it’s very exciting for us that a young person would step up and run for a Senate race,” Groh said. “I think we’re very inspired by the issues that Dan really chooses to focus on.”
The bylaws of the Young Democrats state the group shall not endorse primary candidates, but the group can make an exception if one of its members is running for office and its executive board votes in favor of the endorsement. Members of the group range from 18 to 36 years old.
By taking advantage of that exception, Groh said the endorsement is a testament to the strength of Young Democrats’ belief in Feltes.
“Dan, being under 36, counts,” Groh said. “We definitely considered this long and hard because we know it’s potentially very controversial, and the Young Democrats very rarely get involved in primaries.”
Feltes has worked as an attorney for New Hampshire Legal Assistance for eight years. He said he was not actively involved in the Young Democrats before he began his campaign, but he welcomes their support.
“I’m very honored to receive the endorsement of the New Hampshire Young Democrats, and I look forward to working with them,” Feltes said.
Ardinger, 54, said she had not been contacted by the Young Democrats about her candidacy in the primary.
“This endorsement seems to be one-sided without the opportunity for me to persuade or talk about” my positions, she said.
Groh confirmed he had never met with Ardinger. The Young Democrats group is affiliated with the New Hampshire Democratic Party, which also does not endorse primary candidates. A party spokesperson did not offer a comment, but Democratic National Committeeman Peter Burling said he was upset the Young Democrats endorsed Feltes without inviting Ardinger for an interview with the board.
Burling is also a former New Hampshire House Democratic leader and state senator, and he penned a personal letter to the editor in support of Ardinger, which appeared in the Monitor last month.
“I am deeply disturbed that they have done so without affording both candidates an opportunity for an interview,” Burling said. “That’s something they should have done. It is really improper for them to have proceeded without giving an interview opportunity to both sides.”
The district includes Concord, Henniker, Hopkinton and Warner. The primary is Sept. 9.
(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)