Leadership emerges in Concord
At this writing, both parties in the Legislature are selecting their leadership teams, which will be significant in leading New Hampshire in the next two years. The Republicans picked Rep. William O’Brien of the conservative wing of the party as candidate for speaker, narrowly edging out a former speaker, Gene Chandler, a more moderate conservative. This shows the influence of new legislators on the process.Democrats picked outgoing Speaker Terie Norelli as Minority Leader and she is sure to bring her team back with her to lead the 102 Democrats. In the Senate, Peter Bragdon of Milford will be Senate president, with Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro as majority leader.New Hampshire has a system which splits executive duties between the governor and the Executive Council. The council now will be all-Republican, with new members Dan St. Hilaire and Christopher Sununu joining former Councilor David Wheeler, who returns. Veterans Ray Wieczorek and Ray Burton, dean of the council, rounded out the Republican sweep.Statistical analyses of the election show how big the Republican tally was, at least in percentage terms. Governor Lynch defeated John Stephen 52 percent to 42 percent, a very narrow victory for Lynch, given his past overwhelming victories. Kelly Ayotte received 64 percent of the vote against Paul Hodes’ 36 percent, a landslide by any reckoning.The congressional races were closer, with Frank Guinta getting 54 percent to Carol Shea-Porter’s 43 percent. Charlie Bass received 49 percent to Annie Kuster’s 46 percent – the closest of the races. In the Executive Council, Burton received 67 percent, Wieczorek 69 percent, St. Hilaire 59 percent, Wheeler 55 percent and Sununu 56 percent.In the House, there will be 102 Democrats and 298 Republicans. Of those elected to the House, 216 members were re-elected, 158 members are new legislators and 27 return to the House, having served there previously but not in the immediate past.Senate elections show that the largest majority was in District 22, where former Sen. Chuck Morse defeated Rebecca Fee, 74 percent to 26 percent. Sen. John Gallus, from District 1 in the North Country, received 64 percent.In those races where incumbents were defeated, Democrat Deborah Reynolds received 45 percent to Jeanie Forrester’s 55 percent, Jacalyn Cilley received 46 percent to Fenton Groen’s 54 percent, Peggy Gilmour had 47 percent to Jim Luther’s 53 percent – identical to that of Bette Lasky’s 47 percent and Gary Lambert’s 53 percent.In Manchester, incumbent Betsi DeVries received 43 percent to newcomer Tom DeBlois’ 57 percent. Democrat Maggie Hassan in District 23 received 47 percent and Russell Prescott, a former senator, 53 percent, whereas in District 24, a close race, Martha Fuller Clark, the incumbent, received 49 percent to Nancy Stiles’ 51 percent.The various similar percentages indicate a rather constant Republican/Democrat mix. As often is the case, voters statewide have similar inclinations as they vote, and the fate of members of the party not catching the wind have a tendency to be similar, although certainly the disparate percentages indicate strengths and weaknesses in particular districts, both of parties and of candidates.*****As noted previously, sweeps such as the one that occurred in November are significant in the leaders they produce to guide the state for the next couple of years, but history shows that the pendulum swings both ways, so all of those elected should take seriously the charge they received to work together, accomplish something and not stray too far from the center.As further organizational efforts take place, legislators will be identified for all of the leadership. Legislation also is beginning to be filed. Some estimates indicate that there may be up to 1,800 House bills and close to 1,000 Senate bills – a staggering number.In New Hampshire, every bill gets a hearing and a vote on the floor of the legislative body in which it is introduced, so legislative leaders were reported to have cautioned members, especially new ones, to be conservative in the number of bills filed. Not only does each take time, each carries an expense in printing, consideration and disposal.With annual sessions, New Hampshire’s legislative representatives (lobbyists) have full-time jobs now and will be looking carefully at all of the bills filed and alerting their clients to the dangers inherent in all of them!This all should be interesting to watch.Brad Cook is a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.