NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 4, 2012

In NH, governor's success came from middle ground

It’s rare to see a political leader who wins the respect and admiration of people on both sides of the political spectrum. So it is notable that New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch is leaving office after eight years with the approval of two out of every three Granite Staters.

Lynch, a Democrat, departs having completed a job well done. Since his election in 2004 having defeated one-term Republican Gov. Craig Benson, Lynch has presided over a state undergoing what could be described as a kind of political schizophrenia.

In 2006, Granite Staters swept Democrats into control of both houses of the Legislature for the first time since 1911. Democrats also won the state’s two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2010, New Hampshire voters reversed themselves and gave Republicans majorities in the Legislature and control of the state’s congressional seats.

In the 2012 election just completed, power shifted again with Democrats recapturing the House, as well as the congressional seats. Republicans barely held a majority in the state Senate.

Through all the “throw the bums out” turmoil, Lynch remained in the governor’s office until he chose not to seek re-election in 2012. He will be succeeded by Democrat Maggie Hassan.

Lynch sees the wild swings in power as a desire among New Hampshire voters for the centrist political philosophy that he has embodied. That desire may have been misinterpreted by legislators who have offered voters one extreme or the other.

“Most people in New Hampshire have a tendency to be centrist, which is where I am,” Lynch said in an interview last week. “The Legislature tends to swing from left to right.”

Lynch’s leadership style was to treat the governor’s office not as a “bully pulpit” but as office of a chief executive, clearly a continuation of his successful career in the private world as a business consultant and CEO of a furniture manufacturer. One wouldn’t expect Lynch to lead a Teddy Roosevelt-like charge up San Juan Hill. But one could count on Lynch to have all the pieces in place so that the charge would be a success.

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