Sununu’s enduring popularity suggest long odds for Feltes to pull off upset in New Hampshire governor’s race

By Mary Stroka | The Center Square

Opponents of Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu in past years have run up against the fact that he has remained popular in the state even as the fortunes of his party have waxed and waned. Even as Granite Staters turned over control of the Legislature to Democrats in 2018, they reelected him for a second term.

Now, Sununu faces Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes and Libertarian Darryl Perry in his second race for reelection.

Sununu frequently scores highly in rankings of governors. For instance, the Cato Institute on Monday named Sununu as the highest-scoring governor in its 2020 fiscal policy report card.

Center Square

New Hampshire state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes (left) and Gov. Chris Sununu

“Throughout his tenure, Sununu has resisted pressure to increase taxes and spending, and he has defended New Hampshire’s status as a low‐​tax state with no individual income tax,” the report said.

Sununu, who has held the office since 2017, had a landslide victory in the Sept. 8 primary election, with 130,515 votes while Karen Testerman received 13,539 and Nobody, a candidate who legally changed his name from Rich Paul, received 1,232 votes.

Feltes, who has served as Senate majority leader since 2018, beat Andru Volinsky in a 72,240 to 65,382 vote in the state’s primary election Sept. 8. He and Volinsky aligned on several issues, and both strove to be known as “progressive,” the Concord Monitor reported in an article about Feltes’ declaration of victory in the primary.

Feltes has criticized Sununu on his veto of the latest bills to increase the state’s minimum wage – SB10 in 2019 and HB 731 in 2020 – from $7.25. Feltes sponsored SB10.

“Today I announced that as governor, I will reject and return the pay raises @ChrisSununu took until we raise the minimum wage in NH,” Feltes tweeted Oct. 5. “Like [President Donald] Trump, Sununu opposes raising the minimum wage and even called it ‘dumb’ and ‘disastrous’. Our working families deserve better.”

Sununu wrote in a July memo after his veto, “Now is exactly the wrong time to pursue policies that will reduce the chances of Granite Staters being able to get back to work and that will further hinder our employers who are already struggling in this global pandemic. This bill would have meant fewer jobs and fewer available hours for our workers who are unemployed or underemployed.”

Perry has declared a platform of “criminal justice reform, lower taxation, ballot access reform and voting rights,” vowing to support “any efforts” to reduce taxes and veto any increases in taxes or new taxes. He ran as a Libertarian in the 2016 presidential election.

FiveThirtyEight posted polls Oct. 1 from Emerson College and University of New Hampshire, which both show Sununu leading the race. Emerson’s Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 poll of 700 likely voters showed Sununu leading at 55% compared to Feltes’ 40%, and the University of New Hampshire’s Sept. 24-28 poll of 972 likely voters shows Sununu leading at 55% compared to Feltes’ 37% and Perry’s 3%.

New Hampshire Public Radio will host a debate between Sununu and Feltes from 9 to 10 a.m. Oct. 20 live on The Exchange on NHPR and NHPR’s Facebook Live channel. The debates will later be broadcast on NHPBS and NHPBS Explore.

Image courtesy of Center Square

2 thoughts on “Sununu’s enduring popularity suggest long odds for Feltes to pull off upset in New Hampshire governor’s race

  1. Karen Testerman came outta no where and ran against Chris Sununu in the Primary. She had little money and depended on a grass roots efforts and she got 9% of the votes.
    I’m told that was very good, when you consider what she was pushing against as an unknown without money being dumped on her.
    NH Natives, Libertarians, Freedom Loving people that really know what that means (this is a large group of us) have not been happy at all that the Governor has stripped us all of our constitutional rights in the name of safety..
    “Safety Trumps Everything” he’s been quoted as saying quite a few times.
    Well No, my Constitutions say nothing like that at all.
    It’s MY Job as a Free American to decide what I think is “safe” and what is not. And we’ve had our rights to decide this be totally and illegally stripped from us.

    What he has done actually, is lost a lot of his original base and we’ve been replaced by Democrats and people where these founding NH Values are either unknown or don’t seem to matter..
    And how do I know this?
    It’s not unusual over here to look at a whole row of Democrat yard signs on a lawn and then see Sununu’s sign with them.

    There are a lot of us that will plug our nose and vote for him- because we know the alternative is worse.. but trust me, he’s not as popular here as it appears.

  2. As an ex-pat from Vermont now living in Littleton, NH for the past 15 years, my words are not adequate to explain how well Gov. Sununu has Captained the ship during these extremely trying times. His succinct, focused, NON-partisan scientific approach to our Covid pandemic has been seminal in directing our state In it’s low infection rates.
    Additionally, he is fiscally conservative and has sheparded our state very effectively in his term.
    He has my vote!

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