Rep. Daniels first ‘in’ after Bragdon announces he’ll leave NH Senate
By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD — Nine-term state Rep. Gary Daniels confirmed Tuesday evening that he’ll run for the District 11 state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Peter Bragdon.
Bragdon, the former state Senate President, announced he will leave the Senate after 10 years of service no later than June 6 to continue for at least another two years as executive director of the HealthTrust public employee insurance group.
Bragdon, who previously served two years in the House, said that by stepping down from the Senate, he will be able to participate in regulatory and legislative issues for HealthTrust, which he was unable to do under the terms of an agreement he signed earlier this year with the Legislative Ethics Committee.
He said his new contract is for “basically” $185,000-a-year.
“It was a difficult decision in some ways,” Bragdon said. “I enjoyed both jobs. It was possible to do both in the short term, but impractical in the long term so I had to choose.”
Bragdon stepped down as Senate President last September after taking the HealthTrust post, but stayed on as a senator.
A Democratic lawmaker charged that he violated ethics guidelines by staying in the Senate and in the HealthTrust position. But earlier this year, the ethics committee cleared Bragdon of any wrongdoing while requiring him to sign a strongly worded letter of caution that barred him from giving any legislative or regulatory advice to the HealthTrust board while serving in the Senate.
In an interview Tuesday, Bragdon, 51, cited as his key Senate accomplishments his work to have the tollbooths removed at Exit 12 of the F.E. Everett Turnpike, “preserving Temple Mountain” and leading Senate passage of budgets that cut state spending and with no tax increases.
Daniels, who ran for the Senate unsuccessfully in 2000 and 2002, has spent 18 years as a member of the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee, cited “jobs, the economy, education and health care” as the key issues for his constituents.
“I am in,” he told NHJournal.
Former state Rep. Maureen Mooney, R-Merrimack, told the Journal she “will be meeting with various people in the district over the next few days and will likely make a decision after that” on whether to run.
Mooney said Bragdon “has been a tremendous help in our fight against tolls here in Merrimack and we are grateful for his work on that.”
Mooney said if she runs, “My candidacy would be based solely on service to the district and not being against another candidate. It would be based only on what I could offer.”
Merrimack Town Councilor Dan Dwyer is also viewed as a potential candidate. Dwyer lost to Bragdon in the 2012 GOP primary for the seat, but beat Bragdon in Merrimack.
Bragdon received bipartisan praise after his announcement.
Gov. Maggie Hassan said, “As both a State Senator and State Representative, Peter Bragdon has been a dedicated advocate for his constituents. It has been an honor to serve with him and to work together on numerous bipartisan efforts to strengthen the well-being of Granite Staters, and I thank him for his service to the people of New Hampshire.”
Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said, Bragdon’s “principled and balanced leadership as Senate President for more than three years was exemplary, and I have appreciated his friendship, guidance, and support throughout out time together in the Senate and most particularly during the recent months.”
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said Bragdon’s Senate leadership “following the 2010 elections was instrumental in passing a budget that closed an $800 million deficit, enacting overdue retirement reform to protect our pension system, and a passing host of other measures that have helped the New Hampshire economy grow. Throughout his time in the Senate, Peter has effectively and faithfully served his constituents, right up to his recent efforts to bring long-sought toll relief to the residents of Merrimack.”
Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said, “For over 20 years, Peter Bragdon served the people of his community, district, and state with honor and a tireless work ethic,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley. “Senator Bragdon sacrificed much in the name of public service and I wish him success and all the best in the next chapter of his life.”
State Republican Chair Jennifer Horn said Bragdon ” served with distinction and honor as the President of the New Hampshire Senate, and his principled voice in Concord will be missed.”