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- Democratic state senator Dan Feltes is running to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in the 2020 general election.
- Sununu is the favorite and leads the polls by double-digit margins. Experts rate the race as likely Republican.
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Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is running against Democratic challenger state senator Dan Feltes.
Sununu's handling of COVID-19 in New Hampshire, which has one of the lowest infection rates in the country, has skyrocketed his approval rating. The incumbent, first elected in 2016, had already a relatively high approval rating of 57% before the pandemic. Today, three in four New Hampshire voters approve of the job he is doing as governor, offering a boost to his reelection chances.
The governor has heavily campaigned on his coronavirus strategy to give him an edge over his opponent, whom he says lacks executive experience to oversee the response.
"Dan Feltes has no management experience in his entire career — none," Sununu said in a recent interview with local news outlet WMUR. "But he's going to come in and manage the biggest crisis the state has ever had, the biggest economic responsibilities we've ever had."
Feltes, a longtime attorney who has been state senator since 2014, has battled Sununu throughout his term. The governor has vetoed 79 bills — a record-setting number of rejections in recent New Hampshire legislative history — many of which were championed by Feltes, the Senate's majority leader. The Democratic candidate has centered his platform around pushing for key policies Sununu has blocked, including implementing paid leave plans and raising the $7.25 minimum wage, and has likened Sununu's governance and upbringing to that of President Donald Trump's.
"Chris Sununu grew up with everything handed to him and, just like Trump, Sununu has been enriching himself, his family, and his donors at the expense of taxpayers while working families struggle," Feltes said. "Especially right now we need policies that help working families, like paid family and medical leave, job training, and expanded access to health care."
New Hampshire voters stay pretty stuck to the middle of the political spectrum, regularly flipping their support for Democrats and Republicans in state and national races. While Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton carried the state in 2016, Republican Sununu won the governorship that year. And though former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the 2020 presidential polls, Sununu is on track to win again in November.
The governor is one of eight incumbent governors whose 2020 bid may rest on the pandemic — and it looks like he's cruising to victory due to his popularity.
Another important New Hampshire race is for the Senate seat, currently held by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. She is running for reelection against Trump-endorsed Republican Bryant "Corky" Messner, an Army veteran and lawyer.
The money race: Feltes led in fundraising for September, collecting $290,000 versus Sununu's $212,000, according to local news station NPHR. Still, the incumbent has raised more cash overall, with a total of $1.7 million, compared to Feltes' roughly $1.4 million.
What the polls say: Latest polling data shows Sununu with a massive double-digit lead over Feltes, according to RealClearPolitics' averages.
What the experts say: Cook Political Report, Inside Elections and Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics have each rated the race as likely Republican.
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