• Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

A New Hampshire lawmaker, Dan Feltes, beat a Sanders-backed candidate in the Democratic primary for governor.

Dan Feltes, the New Hampshire State Senate majority leader, defeated a candidate endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders in a tight Democratic primary for New Hampshire governor, a display of enduring — if tenuous — strength for the party’s establishment wing.

The race between Mr. Feltes and Andru Volinsky, a lawyer and education activist, resembled other recent primaries this year that have pitted progressives against establishment Democrats.

But while the support of Mr. Sanders, who won the New Hampshire presidential primary, helped rally progressive voters in the contest, that was not enough: Though the race was closer than expected, Mr. Feltes bested Mr. Volinsky, 52 percent to 48 percent, according to The Asssociated Press, which made the call Wednesday morning.

Mr. Feltes will take on Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, who easily won his primary on Tuesday. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, easily won hers, too, reinforcing the state’s status as a battleground eight weeks ahead of the general election, when the top two down-ballot races will now feature popular incumbents, one from each party.

President Trump visited New Hampshire the day after accepting his renomination last month, and his campaign has identified the state as a possible pickup opportunity after Mr. Trump lost it in 2016 by fewer than 3,000 votes, or less than one percentage point.

Mr. Sununu, whose favorability has been lifted all year by his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and Ms. Shaheen, a former governor and two-term senator, both faced nominal opponents in their own parties.

Most of the campaign-season intrigue centered on the contests to select their November challengers: the Democratic governor’s primary that Mr. Feltes won and the Republican Senate primary, in which Mr. Trump made an endorsement.

Corky Messner, the Trump-endorsed Senate candidate, held off a rival in the Republican primary, Dan Bolduc, who had blasted Democrats as “a bunch of liberal, socialist pansies,” a remark criticized as being homophobic.

Mr. Messner, a wealthy lawyer who built his law career in Denver and did not register to vote in New Hampshire until 2018, fended off accusations of carpetbagging during the primary. He said he had bought a second home in the state a dozen years ago. He may face a similar attack in the general election.

In a Granite State Poll last week, Ms. Shaheen held nearly a 20-point lead over Mr. Messner.

As in other states’ primaries since the coronavirus outbreak, the election was marked by a huge spike in absentee ballots: More than 75,000 absentee ballots had been returned as of Monday, according to the New Hampshire secretary of state, an eightfold increase over the 2016 primary.