New Hampshire To Get Short Term Governor

By John Celock

Before New Hampshire Gov.-elect Chris Sununu (R) takes in January, the Granite State will see another new governor for two days.

Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) announced Wednesday that she intends to resign at 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 2, 12 hours before she is sworn-in as the state’s new U.S. senator. State Senate President Chuck Morse (R) will serve as acting governor until Sununu’s term begins at Noon on Jan. 5.

“Serving as Governor has been the privilege of a lifetime, and I am profoundly grateful that the people of New Hampshire entrusted me with this important responsibility for two terms,” Hassan said in a statement. “I am also deeply grateful to the people of New Hampshire for the great trust that you have once again bestowed upon me to represent you in the United States Senate, and I will work every day to honor it, building on the bipartisan progress that we have made in New Hampshire to expand middle class opportunity, support job-creating businesses and ensure that every Granite Stater who works hard can get ahead and stay ahead.”

Hassan’s move is not unprecedented in New Hampshire or nationally. In 1992, Republican Judd Gregg stepped down several days before his term as governor expired to take his seat in the U.S. Senate, allowing then Senate President Ralph Hough (R) to serve as acting governor for two days. In 1999, then Ohio Gov. George Voinovich (R) resigned early to become a senator, allowing Lt. Gov. Nancy Hollister (R) to become Ohio’s first female governor for an 11 day term. In 1987, Democrat Wayne Mixson served a three day term as Florida governor after fellow Democrat Bob Graham stepped down to become a senator.

Morse’s short term will be shorter than some short term governors but longer than others. In 2002, a constitutional quirk between the term of outgoing Gov. Donald DiFrancesco (R) and incoming Gov. Jim McGreevey (D), left the state’s co-Senate Presidents, Republican John Bennett and Democrat Dick Codey, as acting governor for three and a half days each. But due to a delay in Bennett and Codey taking the Senate presidency, state Attorney General John Farmer (R) had to serve as acting governor for 90 minutes. DiFrancesco had succeeded to the governorship a year earlier, when Republican Christine Todd Whitman stepped down to head the EPA.