On the Trail: Feltes looking, sounding like a gubernatorial candidate

  • 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

For the Monitor
Published: 2/21/2019 5:11:03 PM

As usual, Democratic state Sen. Dan Feltes is spending much of his time at the State House as he steers his party’s legislation through the state Senate.

But the Concord lawmaker took some time away to make a quick trip to Washington, D.C., at the end of last week.

Sources in the nation’s capital said that Feltes paid a visit to the Democratic Governors Association, which helps elect and re-elect Democratic governors, as well as the Democratic National Committee.

The trip came as Feltes mulls a bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2020.

Feltes declined to respond when reached for comment by the Monitor.

He’s publicly said in the past that his current top priority is advancing his party’s playbook of proposals – known as the Granite State Opportunity plan.

But with last week’s trip to Washington and increased speaking engagements around the state due to his job as Senate Majority Leader, Feltes is starting to look and sound a lot more like a gubernatorial candidate.

Another Concord Democrat, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, is also seriously mulling a bid for the Corner Office.

“I am fairly likely to run for Governor in N.H. in 2020. It is a path that I have been on for some time and things are falling into place,” Volinsky wrote last month in an email to close friends that was obtained by the Monitor.

Former state senator Molly Kelly of Harrisville, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, hasn’t ruled out another run, either. She lost to Republican Gov. Chris Sununu by seven percentage points in last November’s election.

Former Portsmouth mayor Steve Marchand, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2016 and 2018, appears to be entertaining a third bid.

Others to possibly keep an eye on are former deputy secretary of state and Bureau of Securities Regulation director Mark Connolly, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2016 gubernatorial nomination, former state representative Mindi Messmer of Rye, who ran unsuccessfully last year for the open seat in the 1st Congressional District, and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, who’s running for re-election this year for a second term.

Biden on top, followed by Sanders, Harris and Warren

He hasn’t set foot in New Hampshire in nearly two years, and he’s not even a declared candidate for the White House, but a new poll suggests that former vice president Joe Biden – a likely contender – is the early favorite for the 2020 Democratic nomination in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

A University of Massachusetts-Amherst online survey indicates that if the 2020 contest were held today, 28 percent of those likely to vote in the Democratic primary would support the former vice president, who’s seriously mulling a third White House bid.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont came in second with 22 percent of those questioned saying they’d back independent Sen. Sanders. The poll was conducted Feb. 7 to 15, well before Tuesday’s launch by Sanders of a second-straight campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton by 22 percentage points in the 2016 New Hampshire Democratic primary, rocketing him into a marathon battle with the eventual nominee that didn’t end until after the primary and caucus calendar. With a crowded field of Democrats already running for the nomination this time around, and more expected to jump in, Sanders is not expected to come anywhere close to the 60 percent of the vote he grabbed in the 2016 contest.

But expectations for the populist firebrand are high in New Hampshire, and it’s considered a must-win state for Sanders.

The state’s also considered a must-win for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. There’s a long history of Massachusetts presidential candidates winning the New Hampshire primary. The most recent examples are former governor Mitt Romney in 2012 and former senator John Kerry in 2004.

Warren stands at 9 percent in the survey, trailing Biden, Sanders and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

Harris, who’s at 14 percent support in the poll conducted by YouGuv, made her first visit to New Hampshire earlier this week. The trip included Harris speaking at a town hall-type setting in front of some 1,000 people packed in Portsmouth’s historic South Church.

Warren returns to the state Friday for her fourth trip since launching her campaign Dec. 31. She landed the coveted keynote speech to some 1,000 lawmakers, rainmakers and activists attending the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual 100 Club fundraising gala.

The poll indicates that former representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas – who became a Democratic rock star after coming extremely close to knocking off GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in last November’s midterm elections – is at 6 percent. O’Rourke, like Biden, is seriously considering a presidential bid.

U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York – who each had successful swings through the state last weekend, stand at 3 percent, with former New York City mayor and billionaire media mogul Mike Bloomberg – a potential 2020 contender – at 2 percent.

The poll, like all surveys this far out from the start of the primary and caucus calendar, is heavily influenced by name recognition. And the results and standings of the candidates will likely shift numerous times over the next year.

Klobuchar coming to Concord

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar will return to New Hampshire this weekend where she’ll make a stop in the Capital City.

The Minnesota Democratic will be back in the Granite State on Sunday for her second visit since launching her presidential campaign earlier this month.

Klobuchar will headline a 7 p.m. house party at the Concord home of Democratic activists and attorney Michael Lewis and professor Leah Plunkett.

At noon, Klobuchar will be the guest of honor at the Nashua home of former longtime state senator Bette Lasky and her husband, Elliot.

And so is Swalwell

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California will also be in Concord on Sunday. The all-but-certain-Democratic presidential contender will meet with Democratic leaders and activists at an 11:30 a.m. gathering hosted by Gerri King and state Rep. Safiya Wazir. It’s the first stop in a jam-packed, two-day swing in the Granite State by Swalwell, who’s making his fourth trip here since November.

Ryan close to 2020 decision

Rep. Tim Ryan, the longtime working-class congressman from northeast Ohio, says he’s “getting close” to deciding on launching a presidential campaign.

But Ryan, in an interview in Concord on Wednesday, said he doesn’t feel rushed to decide.

“I think there’s plenty of time to get to know people in Iowa and New Hampshire and the early states and raise the kind of money that you would need. I think you’ve got to make a decision soon, but I’m not feeling like we missed the opportunity,” the congressman said.

Ryan spoke during a three-day swing full of private meetings with leading Democratic state and local lawmakers, rainmakers and union leaders.

Ryan, who made multiple trips to New Hampshire over the past two years, argued that he could compete for the nomination with candidates with bigger bank accounts and much stronger name recognition. Ryan cited one-time longshot candidates Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, who all made it to the White House.

“Nobody thought any of them had a chance to win. So my bet would be conventional wisdom never really works out,” he said.

Ryan said he’d stand out in the ever-growing field of 2020 Democratic contenders because of his experience living in northeast Ohio, where he’s watched “this economic train wreck happen to my family, my friends, my community ... and in 16 years in Congress, I’ve been working extremely hard to rebuild these communities.”

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