NH Republican Gov. Sununu defeats Feltes to win 3rd term
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Sununu defeated state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes on Tuesday, saying he hopes his third term will be marked by the same spirit of cooperation that has helped New Hampshire weather the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanking supporters for a “huge win,” Sununu said he realizes elections leave bad feelings behind but insisted “those feelings end tonight.”
“Tomorrow, we come together as neighbors, in our communities, understanding we still have a lot of challenges ahead,” he said. “But we’ve done it before. We have a model of success.”
The son of a former governor, Sununu was the youngest top executive in the country when he took office in 2017 at age 42. Now 45, he campaigned on both his management experience and leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This past year has been so trying for so many folks. There have been so many sacrifices made by individuals and businesses... but at the end of the day, everyone took responsibility not just for themselves, but for their neighbors and their communities, and we did it right,” he said.
Sununu’s handling of the pandemic garnered widespread, bipartisan support, though some critics called his restrictions too harsh. Feltes, meanwhile, said the governor didn’t do enough to protect the most vulnerable populations, including the elderly and schoolchildren.
A former legal aid attorney, Feltes contrasted his working-class roots with Sununu’s upbringing in a political family, and said he was running to help working families, not out of a sense of entitlement. Sununu previously served three terms on the Executive Council, which approves state contracts and nominations, and was general manager of Waterville Valley ski area, which his family owns. Sununu’s father served as governor in the 1980s, and his brother served in Congress.
In a video message on Facebook, Feltes said the campaign’s outcome wasn’t what he hoped, but the experience showed him “the best of New Hampshire.” And he urged his supporters to continue his fight.
“Campaigns don’t end on election day, regardless of who wins. The campaigns on the issues and values we all care about, in many ways they begin after Election Day,” he said. “We have to work together to move those issues and values forward for one another.”
The two candidates were frequently at odds at the Statehouse, where Republicans held legislative majorities during his first term but Democrats were in control the last two years. He made lavish use of his veto pen to block more than 70 bills, including many sponsored by his opponent. He twice vetoed paid family and medical leave programs authored by Feltes, which he characterized as an income tax. Though Feltes took the traditional pledge against an income or sales tax, Sununu portrayed him as “the income tax architect” in a state that has long resisted both taxes.
Sununu also was able to overcome Feltes’ chief strategy of linking him to President Donald Trump. Though Feltes missed no opportunity to highlight a comment Sununu made about being a “Trump guy through and through,” Sununu maintained a certain distance from the president and even criticized him on occasion.
Libertarian Darryl Perry also was on the ballot.
Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.