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Hassan to resign as governor on Jan. 2, ahead of swearing-in as U.S. senator

By DAVE SOLOMON
State House Bureau

December 15. 2016 12:59AM
HASSAN 

CONCORD — Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has told legislative leaders from both parties and Republican Gov.-elect Chris Sununu that she will resign on Jan. 2, in advance of her swearing-in as a U.S. senator on Jan. 3.

Since the new governor is not going to be sworn in until Jan. 5, Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, will serve as acting governor for the intervening two days.

Hassan cited a similar move by Gov. Judd Gregg, who on Dec. 30, 1992, announced his resignation to protect seniority rights in his new job of U.S. senator.

State Sen. Ralph Hough, R-Lebanon, was Senate president at the time, and served as acting governor between Jan. 2 and the swearing-in of Gov. Steve Merrill on Jan. 7.

Hassan spokesman William Hinkle said the move means Hassan will be ranked 46th of 48 Senate Democrats and will be 97th overall in seniority.

“This decision was not made lightly, but following historical precedent is the best course to protect New Hampshire’s interests in the United States Senate,” Hassan said. “I have informed legislative leadership from both parties and Gov.-elect Sununu of my intentions, and my office will continue working with them to ensure a smooth transition.”

Morse will be the second Senate president from Salem to become governor on an interim basis. Senate President Vesta Roy, also of Salem, stepped away from her Senate seat to serve as acting governor in December 1982 due to the illness and subsequent death of Gov. Hugh Gallen. Gov. John H. Sununu took office in January 1983.

Former attorney general and longtime Republican activist Tom Rath, who shared that piece of history over Twitter after Hassan’s announcement, said the interim terms of Hough and Roy were not of much consequence, which should be the same for Morse.

“I’d just make sure there are no bridges in Salem he wants to name after himself during those two days,” he joked.


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