Now that state Senate President Peter Bragdon is stepping down from that post, the New Hampshire Democratic Party wants him ousted as a senator altogether. This has nothing to do with the party's alleged concern over perceived possible conflicts of interest. It has everything to do with basic mathematics and political power.
The math: 13 and 11. The Republicans hold the Senate majority by a single vote. That majority has been key in stopping the Democrats from (a) a tax-and-spend budget and (b) various social welfare programs, with even more spending of the taxpayers' money.
Hence, the Democrats' cries for Bragdon's scalp. They hope the controversy will give them a chance to grab his seat and create a stalemated Senate.
While we think Bragdon was right to surrender the Senate presidency because of his new job with the Local Government Center, there is no reason for him to quit the Senate itself.
Bragdon, who has one of the best records for integrity and honesty in Concord, has conflict issues like many others in New Hampshire's citizen legislature. Despite its faults, ours is a system that has worked a lot better than those states where "professional'' politicians take big salaries and ignore their constituents.
In New Hampshire, where they get $100 a year, many legislators must work for a living. Their work can sometimes put them in a conflict with their elected posts, in which case they are expected to recuse themselves from a particular vote or situation.
Such is precisely the case with Democrat Jeff Woodburn. A state senator like Bragdon, Woodburn is executive director of the state-funded Council for Children with Chronic Health Conditions. The council lobbies the Legislature. It advocates for policies. Caught with no explanation for that situation, Democrat party hacks last week could only sputter that Woodburn's potential conflict was for "sick kids.''
Okay, and Bragdon's issues involve local taxpayers.
There is absolutely nothing to suggest that Peter Bragdon won't recuse himself from Senate votes involving his new job. There is everything to suggest that the Democrats will try any means they can think of to smear him.
It won't work. And we doubt that the voters of Bragdon's District 11, from Milford to Merrimack, will take kindly to this transparent effort to oust a solid senator they have elected for several terms, including just last year.