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Feltes named No. 2 Democrat in state Senate

  • State Sen. Dan Feltes, a Concord Democrat, speaks with the Monitor's editorial board. NICK REID



For the Monitor
Monday, August 13, 2018

Dan Feltes says he’s going to do everything he can in the three months leading up to the November elections to help the Democrats win back the majority in the state Senate.

The state senator from Concord made his comments in an interview Monday minutes after it was announced that Sen. Donna Soucy – the new Senate minority leader – named Feltes as deputy Democratic leader. The news was first reported by the Monitor.

Feltes said that he and Soucy “met late last week and she asked me to serve as deputy Democratic leader through the election.”

“I want to do everything I can in the months ahead to elect a majority because our Senate Republican colleagues have failed to look out for everyday Granite Staters,” he added.

Soucy was elected by her Democratic colleagues last Monday to serve as interim party leader. The vote to install the Manchester Democrat in the top spot came just hours after Senate Democratic Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn stepped down from his leadership position.

Four days earlier, the North Country senator was arrested on nine domestic violence-related charges. Despite a chorus of calls from Democrats and Republicans for him to give up his seat, Woodburn has not resigned.

Soucy was deputy minority leader under Woodburn. The position is not elected by the party caucus but rather appointed by the Democratic leader. In an interview last week with the Monitor, Soucy said she had yet to choose a deputy.

Feltes represents Henniker, Hopkinton, Penacook, and Warner, as well as Concord, where he resides. He currently serves as the Senate Democratic policy director, which is considered the No. 3 position in party leadership.

As deputy minority leader, Feltes will have an expanded role in the party’s efforts to retake a chamber currently controlled, 14-10, by the GOP.

“I’m going to work hard with Sen. Soucy and all of our Democratic candidates to make the case that a new majority in the state Senate will look out for everyone, not just those at the top,” Feltes said.

He said Senate Democrats will campaign “on substantive issues, bread-and-butter issues, that expand economic opportunity for everyone.”

Asked whether he would seek the leadership position for a full term following the November election, Feltes said only that “this is simply an interim position through the election.”

Feltes, a former legal aid attorney who represented low-income residents, won election to the Senate in 2014, succeeding longtime state lawmaker and former Senate President Sylvia Larsen.

Feltes teamed up with Republican leader Jeb Bradley to come up with the framework for the state’s Medicaid expansion extension, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law this summer by Gov. Chris Sununu.

He’s also become a leading advocate for disadvantaged residents and children, and a major supporter of bail reform.

It was that issue that won Feltes praise from Greg Moore, the state director of the powerful conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. Praising Feltes’s new leadership role, Moore took to Twitter to say the senator “is a leader and a huge asset in the area of criminal justice reform in NH.”

Feltes, 39, is the youngest person to serve in the state Senate in three decades.