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Feltes becomes first Democrat to challenge Sununu for governor’s office

  • Sen. Dan Feltes of Concord introduces Executive Councilor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern during a house party for Van Ostern in Hopkinton on Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan stands with Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes and his daughter Iris. Feltes announced in an online video Tuesday that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for New Hampshire governor. AP file

For the Monitor
Published: 9/3/2019 8:13:39 AM

Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes said he’s running for governor for the working families of New Hampshire.

“New Hampshire’s the best state in the nation to raise a family,” Feltes, a three-term Democratic state senator from Concord, said in a four-minute campaign video released Tuesday morning. “My wife and I truly believe that. But right now working people deserve better and with me they’ll get it.”

Later in an email officially launching his 2020 campaign for governor, Feltes took aim at incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

“Right now we have a governor who doesn’t get what ordinary folks are going through – property taxes on everyday folks are going up, while taxes on large corporations are going down,” Feltes said. “That’s not fair. And we’re going to change that.”

Feltes contrasted Sununu’s upbringing – the son of a former governor and younger brother to a former congressman and U.S. senator – to his youth, growing up in a working-class family in Iowa. His video included interviews with his mother and father and photos of a young Dan Feltes.

“My father worked in the same un-airconditioned furniture factory for 45 years and my mother worked multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet; we knew what it meant to stretch a dollar,” Feltes spotlighted.

And he explained that “my parents taught me to work hard, leave no one behind and get things done. That’s the kind of governor we need right now.”

In his video, Feltes highlighted his efforts to expand “access to health care to over 50,000 Granite Staters” through New Hampshire’s Medicaid Expansion program, protected people with pre-existing conditions, and “established some of the toughest drinking water standards in the country.”

He said Sununu’s 53 vetoes this year of bills passed by the Democratic-controlled state Senate and House were a modern-day record. Among them, the bill championed by Feltes to set up a paid medical and family leave system.

Last week Feltes criticized Sununu over the budget impasse, saying the governor isn’t doing enough and needs to be more aware that the economy’s slowing.

The following day, Sununu fired back in an interview on New Hampshire Today with Jack Heath.

“Our economy’s absolutely cooking and will continue to do so,” Sununu said. “We are the number one state in the northeast for millennials to come to. We are the number one state in the northeast for businesses to come to. Those are independent national rankings. This is the place. Dan Feltes frankly is praying. He’s one of those guys praying for a recession so he can have something to talk about. It’s frankly disgusting behavior. At the end of the day, things are going very well.”

The announcement by the 40-year-old Feltes on Tuesday came one day after he sounded very much like a candidate – as he gave a full-throated political speech targeting Sununu and Republicans as he spoke at the annual New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.

Feltes – who also set up a campaign website – becomes the first Democrat to formally launch a gubernatorial campaign in the 2020 election. But it’s doubtful he’ll be the last.

Executive Councilor and fellow Concord Democrat Andru Volinsky appears all but certain to declare his candidacy in the near future. Former state senator Molly Kelly – the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee – has not ruled out another run for the corner office. And former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2016 and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominations, is mulling a third straight run.

Another possible contender could be Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, who’s running this year for re-election to a second term steering New Hampshire’s largest city. Some national and state Democrats see Craig as a strong challenger to Sununu. But Craig said last week in a radio interview that she’s “not considering” a gubernatorial run.

Sununu – one of the nation’s most popular governor’s according to public opinion polling – announced in May that he would run for a third two-year term steering the Granite State rather than launch a GOP challenge against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. The former governor is running next year for a third six-year term representing New Hampshire in the Senate.

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