Bill Shaheen emerged in Democratic circles today as the leading contender so far to succeed Peter Burling as New Hampshire’s Democratic National Committeeman. Burling has disclosed to party leaders his resignation from the post, creating an opening for the remaining 16 months of his unexpired term.
Shaheen, the husband of newly-reelected Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, would be able to be active in Hillary Clinton’s upcoming presidential campaign – should he choose to do so – and still be a member of the DNC from the Granite State. Unlike on the Republican side, state members of the Democratic National Committee are not required to be neutral in primaries.
The party plans to elect a new DNC member to succeed Burling, of Cornish, at its state committee meeting on Dec. 14. The post carries with it several leadership responsibilities, but none more important than being a constant defender of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary against potential challenges from DNC members in other states.
Former party chair Kathy Sullivan of Manchester is the state party’s female member of the DNC, also elected by the state committee. New Hampshire also has an at-large member of the DNC, Joanne Dowdell of Portsmouth.
Burling’s resignation began circulating earlier today when state Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley sent an email to members of the state party’s executive committee. In the memo, obtained by the New Hampshire Journal, Buckley praised and recounted his long friendship with Burling, 69, a former state senator, former New Hampshire House Democratic Leader and long-time party leader and activist.
“Peter has been an invaluable member of the NHDP leadership team these past six and a half years. He has given the party –at every level — an unlimited amount of time, talent and support,” Buckley wrote. “We have been in constant conversation on things big and small. Throughout it all he has been a real trooper and a genuine factor in the victories we have enjoyed.
“I first met Peter in 1980 when he was a candidate for state Senate and I was the Field Director for Nashua Mayor Moe Arel’s congressional campaign. Peter has provided extensive support.
“Through the years Peter has served the party in many roles, as a state committee member, Sullivan County Chair and for the past six-and-a-half years on the DNC. I served with Peter in the NH House for 12 years — six years as his whip. I worked closely with him during his years in the state Senate, and at each state convention, it is an honor to work with Pete in selecting a deserving recipient of the Burling Legislative Award.
“While he is stepping back from a formal leadership role within the party,” wrote Buckley, “I trust that he will continue to be an active and key NH Democrat for decades more.”