Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky Says He’ll Likely Run for N.H. Governor

  • Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky says he’s considering running for governor in 2020. (Paul Steinhauser photograph) Paul Steinhauser photograph

For the Valley News
Published: 1/25/2019 10:44:33 PM
Modified: 1/25/2019 10:44:47 PM

Concord — He flirted with a run for governor in the 2018 election cycle, but now it seems that Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky is doing more than just flirting.

“I am fairly likely to run for governor in N.H. in 2020. It is a path that I have been on for some time and things are falling into place,” Volinsky wrote in an email to close friends and potential supporters on Tuesday.

Volinsky, who was re-elected in November to a second-term representing District 2 on the Executive Council, could be one of a number of leading Granite State Democrats running for their party’s gubernatorial nomination.

Volinsky, a leading progressive voice and a vocal critic of Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, declined to comment on Wednesday when asked about a possible 2020 gubernatorial bid.

Volinsky, who as a 30-year-old successfully argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, for years was best known in the Granite State as the lead attorney for the victorious plaintiff school districts in the historic Claremont school district funding lawsuit two decades ago, which established that the state had to provide an “adequate” education for every student.

Three years ago, Volinsky, a 1980 graduate of George Washington University National Law Center, represented Dover in that city’s lawsuit against New Hampshire over the state’s cap on adequacy money to school districts.

In 2016, the Concord resident and general counsel at the Bernstein Shur law firm in Manchester won election to the Executive Council, succeeding fellow Democrat Colin Van Ostern, who lost to Sununu in the gubernatorial contest. While Volinsky had long been a Democratic Party activist, the run for the council was his first campaign for elective office.

Volinsky quickly grabbed the spotlight on the council with his fierce challenge of Frank Edelblut during the former GOP gubernatorial candidate’s confirmation hearing for state education commissioner. Volinsky also opposed Sununu’s nomination of interim budget director Charlie Arlinghaus as commissioner of Administrative Services.

He was a major supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 bid for president, serving as the New Hampshire campaign’s general counsel and attending the nominating convention in Philadelphia as a pledged delegate for Sanders.

The New Hampshire GOP was quick to criticize Volinsky.

“Andru Volinsky’s career and policy positions over the years puts him far out of touch with the New Hampshire electorate. While he would be markedly further left than any Democrat to run for governor to date, he may not be the furthest left to run in 2020,” state party communications director Joe Sweeney wrote.

The Democratic gubernatorial nomination race could see a crowded field.

State Sen. Dan Feltes, of Concord, the chamber’s majority leader, also may be mulling a run for the corner office.

Former state Sen. Molly Kelly, of Harrisville, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, hasn’t ruled out another run. She lost to Sununu by seven percentage points in last November’s election.

Former Portsmouth mayor Steve Marchand, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2016 and 2018, may be entertaining a third bid. Those with knowledge of Marchand’s thought process said he’s seriously considering another run in 2020 and added that Marchand remains politically active, meeting with Democratic officials, activists and lawmakers. Marchand on Monday is slated to speak to Upper Valley Democrats for an event dubbed of “Leading in the Age of Trump: Making Sununu Accountable.”

Former Deputy Secretary of State and Bureau of Securities Regulation Director Mark Connolly, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2016 gubernatorial nomination, also is being urged by some friends to consider another bid.

Those close to former state Rep. Mindi Messmer, of Rye, who ran unsuccessfully last year for the open seat in the 1st Congressional District, say that the environmental scientist is mulling a possible campaign, adding that she’s seriously assessing what to do in 2020.

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig said she is focused on managing the state’s largest city and on her re-election this year, but numerous Democratic activists mention her as a possible 2020 gubernatorial contender. Van Ostern, who narrowly lost to incumbent Bill Gardner in last month’s blockbuster election for New Hampshire Secretary of State, doesn’t appear likely to make a second bid for governor.

Sununu didn’t care to address the topic of a 2020 run on Wednesday, saying he had “no thoughts.”

“I have a state to run. That’s my focus here,” Sununu added. “Things are going very well, and they’re going well because we focus on the job.”

Paul Steinhauser can be reached at steinhauserpaul@gmail.com.

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