CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes announced his campaign for governor Tuesday, becoming the first Democrat to enter the race to challenge Republican Gov. Chris Sununu next year.
Feltes, in his third term in the state Senate, announced his decision in a web video, saying he'll work hard, leave no one behind and get things done. A former legal aid lawyer from Concord, Feltes said Republican Gov. Chris Sununu doesn't understand what ordinary folks are going through and that too many working families are being harmed by the high cost of health care, electricity, housing and child care.
"I'm running for governor for the working families of New Hampshire, for people like my parents, the people I represented, people who tried hard and worked hard and never asked for a damn thing," he said in the video. "Property taxes are going up, while taxes for big corporations are going down. We need to reverse that equation."
The video features the candidate's parents, and contrasts his father's work in a furniture factory and his mother's part-time jobs with Sununu's political pedigree. Sununu's father, John H. Sununu, served as governor in the 1980s and later as White House chief of staff under President George H.W. Bush. One of his brothers, John E. Sununu, served in the U.S. House and Senate.
"I wasn't born into a family of politicians. My dad wasn't governor," Feltes said. "I was born into a family of workers. That's what I know, so that's what we did. We worked it."
Sununu easily won his second term last November, defeating challenger Molly Kelly in a year when her fellow Democrats swept the Congressional seats and picked up majorities in both the state House and Senate. A University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll released last month showed Sununu maintaining a strong approval rating of 60%, though voters were split on whether he should be reelected.
His campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but he's sure to raise many areas of disagreement should Feltes win the nomination. Of the more than 50 bills Sununu has vetoed this year, 17 of them were sponsored by Feltes, including several clean energy bills and one to create a paid family medical leave program.
Sununu said the family leave bill amounted to an income tax, a claim the Republican Governors Association echoed in its response to Feltes' candidacy. In a statement, RGA Executive Director Dave Rexrode called Feltes a "serial tax hiker" who would roll back progress made under Sununu's leadership.
"Dan Feltes' record speaks for itself - he's another big government, tax-and-spend liberal who stands in the way of growth and opportunity by pushing measures like a state income tax and crippling taxes on New Hampshire businesses," he said. "Democrats threw everything they had at Governor Sununu last year but the voters stood strongly behind his common sense, bipartisan approach and the great results he has produced for the state."
Democratic Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky also is exploring a run for governor. The primary will be in September 2020.