2013 (08) August 2013

Nashua Telegraph

Staff photo by William Wrobel

Senator Charles W. Morse listens to testimony from Amherst’s Jo Fonda, who asked for funding for New Hampshire’s domestic abuse groups during the Senate budget hearing at the State House in Concord on Thursday, May 9, 2013.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Republicans in NH Senate to meet over picking new president
Staff Writer
CONCORD – State Senate Republicans will huddle privately Tuesday to pick a nominee to replace Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Morse, R-Salem, has enough of those 13 Senate GOP votes to win that caucus nod.

The question remains, however, whether Morse will reach at least 12 votes, a necessary amount to block any attempt to keep the gavel from being turned over to him when the full Senate makes the choice next Tuesday.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Bragdon and Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, had not yet endorsed Morse for the $125-a-year post.

Without those votes, Morse would have, at most, 11 in his corner, opening the presidency to a candidate with support from both parties.

Morse and Sanborn have reached out to Democratic senators, but according to sources, there hasn’t been an agreement about any power-sharing arrangement.

Meanwhile, the 11 Senate Democrats plan to meet as a caucus Wednesday and likely will stick with Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen, of Concord, to lead them.

On Aug. 12, Bragdon, 50, accepted the $180,000-a-year job as CEO of the Local Government Center and had intended to remain as Senate leader.

But after three days of partisan criticism and silence from his GOP colleagues, Bragdon changed his mind and declared he’d step down as president once the Senate chose a replacement.

As executive director, Bragdon now manages LGC’s risk pools for health care, property/liability and worker’s compensation insurance. The New Hampshire Health Trust Inc. is one of the largest such pools for public worker health coverage in the country.

Bragdon said he’ll remain in the Senate and won’t take part in any legislation related to risk pools including this study committee that has to make a report on recommended legislation by Nov. 1.

Last week, ex-Interim Executive Director George Bald wrote Democratic Party officials that the LGC board opted not to do a national search for its leader because it would be “difficult to recruit one” since a state hearing officer had ordered the LGC to return more than $50 million to member cities and towns.

The LGC is appealing that August 2012 ruling to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

“Instead, the chairs brainstormed about five individuals that they asked me to reach out to and explore their interest in serving as my replacement,” Bald said. “The discussion with the board chairs centered on finding someone with the leadership skills and business acumen who could help resolve the pending litigation.”

LGC officials have not identified who else was considered, citing personnel records as exempt under the state’s Right to Know Law.

Bragdon had voluntarily agreed to release all e-mail contact with LGC officials about his own pursuit for the post.

Bald said Bragdon interviewed for the job on July 25 and Aug. 9.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).