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August 17, 2013

Morse could replace Bragdon as N.H. Senate president

The New Hampshire State Senate will have a new leader when its next session begins as Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, announced yesterday he is stepping down after three years.

That leader could be Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, who said yesterday that he is interested in replacing Bragdon.

Bragdon took a job this week as executive director of New Hampshire’s Local Government Center, prompting calls for his resignation due to potential conflicts of interest. The LGC is an umbrella organization overseeing a health care trust, a worker compensation trust and a liability and property trust in which many municipalities participate.

Morse said yesterday he already has the support of at least 10 senators as he vies for the top position in the 24-member chamber.

“I’m going to announce to the caucus that I’m interested next week,” Morse said. “I feel like I’ve proven myself with passing budgets that I can lead in the state of New Hampshire.”

Morse has been a senator since 2002 and serves on the Transportation, Capital Budget and Public Affairs committees. He is the president of Freshwater Farms Nursery and Garden Center in Atkinson.

Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said that she would support Morse as the new president.

“ I think he would be an excellent Senate president, he’s been in the Senate for a number of years,” she said. “He has the respect of our caucus and the respect of the Democrats as well. I think he’d be an great choice to pick up the reins where (Bragdon) left off.”

Morse said Bragdon made the right decision in choosing to step down.

“He believed he could develop a process to manage through this, but I think the potential for conflict was just too great,” he said.

Bragdon said he initially thought he would be able to manage the two responsibilities, but ultimately changed his mind out of concern his dual role might cause some to question “the openness and integrity” of the Senate.

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