Party leaders: Democrats control New Hampshire Legislature
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire doesn’t have an official state dessert, but maybe after Tuesday’s elections, it should be the banana split.
Though Republican Gov. Chris Sununu won a second term, he and the leaders of both political party organizations said control of the state House, Senate and Executive Council all have flipped from Republican to Democratic control. The Associated Press has not yet called multiple races.
The state’s last five Democratic governors found themselves in the opposite situation for at least part of their tenures, but Sununu will be the first Republican governor of New Hampshire in modern history to face a Democratic Legislature. He said Wednesday the new legislative landscape won’t change his approach.
“We brought stakeholders to the table, we let them drive a lot of the changes they wanted to see in policy and regulation and economic freedom and we got results off of that. So we’re not going to change our philosophy at all,” he said in an interview. “We’re going to keep doing what we do. It’s a great recipe for success. Regardless of politics, regardless of who’s in the House and the Senate, we’re open to working with everybody.”
Four other legislative chambers flipped to Democrats on Tuesday: the Colorado Senate, New York Senate, Minnesota House and Maine Senate. But in each of those states, there will be a Democratic governor as well.
In New Hampshire, state Rep. Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, said the House has a history of cooperation among the parties. He noted that between 80 and 90 percent of bills that pass the House do so with little or no debate.
“On most things, we are able to reach agreement. Sometimes we’re looking to end up at the same destination but want to take a different path,” said Shurtleff, the Democratic minority leader who is now seeking to become House speaker. “We want to work with our friends across the aisle.”
Shurtleff said he hopes the shift will mean greater success for legislation aimed at helping people with mental illness and implementation of a paid family medical leave program. When Sununu was first elected, he periodically met with Democratic House and Senate leaders, “but after a while, those meetings fell off,” he said.
“I hope it’s something we can do in the new biennium,” he said.
Sununu disputed the claim that he had become gradually less welcoming in the last two years.
“The Democratic minority leadership always had the option to come sit with us, we never stopped inviting people,” he said. “We’re always there to talk about issues, and they know that door is open. It doesn’t mean we’re going to agree on anything, but that door’s always open and we’re happy to move forward to get the job done.”
Wayne MacDonald, chairman of the state Republican Party, was less optimistic in his assessment.
“Over the next two years, Granite Staters will witness the lack of serious policy proposals presented by the New Hampshire Democrats,” he said in a statement.
No word on whether there would be bipartisan support for a state dessert — though fourth graders studying state history periodically petition lawmakers for such designations. The state already has an official fruit, the pumpkin, and earlier this year made the New Hampshire Red the state’s official poultry.