CONCORD — New Hampshire’s Republican senators voted yesterday to back Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Morse of Salem as Senate president — all but assuring he’ll replace Peter Bragdon, who is stepping down amid criticism surrounding his new job as executive director of the Local Government Center.
A spokeswoman said the 13 Republican senators voted unanimously in a private caucus to back Morse when the 24-member Senate votes Tuesday to select a president. Bragdon of Milford is stepping down from the leadership post after critics said it was a conflict of interest to work for the center because it frequently lobbies lawmakers.
Morse said he would work to gain Democrats’ support ahead of next week’s vote.
“As our work over the last year has shown us, there is much more that unites us than divides us, and by seeking to expand those areas of agreement, and reiterating my pledge to lead the Senate in an open, honest, and transparent manner, I am confident I can earn their votes next Tuesday,” Morse said in a statement.
Morse,52, was responsible for putting together the Senate’s version of the budget and negotiating a compromise with the House on the two-year spending plan adopted in June.
He is a conservative who voted for legislation to place limits on collective bargaining and to require voters to produce photo identification, and against legalizing marijuana for seriously ill residents. He was a co-sponsor of a casino gambling bill that passed the Senate this year, but died in the House. One of the proposed casino sites was Rockingham Park in Salem.
Republicans hold a 13-11 edge over Democrats in the Senate and have the power to pick a president from within their caucus though bipartisan coalitions have picked presidents in the past.
Morse, who owns Freshwater Farms in Atkinson, is serving his fourth term in the Senate after two terms in the House.