For much of its history, New Hampshire’s Executive Council has been an important and generally positive element of our state’s small-government philosophy with its checks and balances relative to a sitting governor.
But the partisan political hackery evidenced in the council vote on Wednesday of this week jeopardizes the future of the council, which may be just what today’s Democratic Party wants.
The council’s three Democrats, a majority, deep-sixed the Supreme Court nomination of Attorney General Gordon MacDonald for no other reason than party politics. In his past political life, MacDonald has been a Republican.
The Democrats did this despite the glowing bipartisan recommendations and endorsements MacDonald’s nomination had received from lawyers and judges (including past chief justices) and no fewer than 18 past presidents of the bar.
Some of these individuals spoke out not only because they found MacDonald to be eminently qualified, but they were horrified that a partisan litmus test was being applied to an area of government that should be as free of politics as possible.
That is a road that New Hampshire has not gone down. It is one that leads to political elections of judges, and all the money and influence involved with them; and the same for the position of attorney general.
So disgusted might the public be about this council’s naked political vote, it might well entertain the idea of doing away with the council, as many big-government types have often suggested.
If that happened, it would lead to a much more powerful chief executive, a governor who could have his or her way on all manner of appointments and spending schemes without a pesky council interfering.
This all seems of a piece with the current game plan of the state Democratic Party. It follows that party’s recent effort to turn the Secretary of State position into another partisan sinecure.
If this is the game New Hampshire Democrats intend to play, its candidates will deserve the public’s scorn and rejection at the ballot box.