Insiders handicap candidates for AG
As Gov. Maggie Hassan considers potential candidates to succeed outgoing state Attorney General Michael A. Delaney, insiders suggest at least three strong contenders for the job.
U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire John P. Kacavas and Lucy C. Hodder, who is the governor's legal counsel and a former assistant attorney general who specialized in health care law while in private practice, are two names that rise to the top of the list of likely candidates, according to legal experts and current and former state officials. Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph A. Foster of Nashua also emerges as a serious contender for the state's top attorney.
All three are described as extremely capable, intelligent and highly-skilled lawyers capable of representing New Hampshire well in the civil and criminal arenas.
"She (Hassan) will look for someone well grounded in the law, who can fulfill the function of the state's chief law enforcement officer, and has an able, legal mind that will best represent the state," said one observer who previously worked in the governor's office.
Several county attorneys could also be under consideration, but sources said they expect Hassan would be focusing on candidates with more in-depth civil and criminal experience.
They also said they don't expect Hassan to favor a woman over a man, noting the governor appears intent on finding the best person for the job.
Delaney this week announced he would not seek a second-term when his appointment expires March 31. He agreed to stay on to assist with the transition.
Insiders said they expect Hassan will present her nominee to the Executive Council for approval by late April or early May.
District Four Executive Councilor Christopher C. Pappas could not discuss potential candidates, but said "there is no lack of people with good legal minds in New Hampshire."
"I feel pretty confident that she is going to find a strong successor to Mike Delaney," Pappas said Friday.
Serving as the state's top law enforcement officer is one of the most high-profile and significant aspects of the Attorney General's office, which prosecutes all homicides in the state. In addition, the office serves as the legal bureau for all state agencies, defending them against civil suits and it handles both civil and criminal appeals before Supreme Court. The office includes a charitable trust bureau.
Appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire by President Obama in 2009, Kacavas oversees all federal criminal prosecutions, civil litigation and federal law enforcement initiatives. A Manchester native, Kacavas served from 1993 to 1999 in the state Attorney General's office, where he was chief of the homicide unit. He later was a criminal division trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. He then worked nine years at Kacavas Ramsdell & Howard, a private practice he founded.
Hodder left Rath Young and Pignatelli law firm this year to become legal counsel to Hassan. She was a shareholder in the Concord law firm where she specialized in health care law and chaired the firm's Health Care Practice Group. Prior to working at Rath Young Pignatelli, Hodder worked in the civil division of the state Attorney General's office from 1993 to 1997.
Foster served as state Senate Majority Leader from 2007 to 2008 and chaired the state Senate Judiciary Committee where he often worked with law enforcement officials from across the state. He currently is chairman of the bankruptcy practice group at McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton law firm in Manchester.
State Republican Party Chairman Jennifer Horn criticized Hodder as a contender for Attorney General because of she previously worked as a lobbyist for Millennium Gaming president William Wortman, while in private practice. Horn claimed Hodder would be "in the pocket of the gambling lobby."
Hassan's spokesman Marc Goldberg did not respond to an email request for comment.