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NH governor's race spotlights leadership, loyalty to Trump

FILE - This pair of 2020 file photos shows Democrat challenger Dan Feltes, left, and Republican incumbent Gov. Chris Sununu, right, who are running for New Hampshire governor in the Nov. 3, 2020, general election. (AP Photos, File)

By HOLLY RAMER Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Sununu faces Democrat Dan Feltes on Tuesday after a campaign in which the candidates questioned each other’s loyalty and leadership skills.

Sununu, who is seeking a third, two-year term, ran on his experience as a manager, including leading the state during the coronavirus pandemic. But Feltes argued that Sununu didn’t do enough to protect nursing home residents or schoolchildren.

The two frequently were at odds at the Statehouse, where Feltes has represented Concord in the state Senate for three terms, most recently as majority leader. Sununu vetoed several of his challenger’s key initiatives, including a paid family and medical leave program he characterized as an income tax.

Feltes, a former legal aid lawyer, sought to portray Sununu as out of touch with the needs of working families, contrasting his upbringing in a blue-collar family with Sununu, whose political family includes a father who was governor in the 1980s and a brother who served in Congress and whose family owns Waterville Valley ski area. And he relentlessly tried to link Sununu to President Donald Trump, reminding voters that Sununu once called himself “a Trump guy through and through.”

Sununu, meanwhile, defended his family’s record of public service and said he was proud to work as the ski area’s general manager before being elected to the Executive Council and later governor. He said Feltes’ background includes no management or leadership experience.

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court brought health care to the forefront of the campaign in its final days. Feltes emphasized Sununu’s past opposition to the Affordable Care Act, though the governor did sign on this year to a multi-state effort to defend the Obama-era health care law in court.

Now 45, Sununu was the youngest top executive in the country when he took office in 2017 at age 42. He was reelected in 2018 by defeating Democrat Molly Kelly 58-46%.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.