Powerful Before And After, Morse Fills Gap As Acting Governor | New Hampshire Public Radio

Powerful Before And After, Morse Fills Gap As Acting Governor

Jan 4, 2017


Credit josh rogers/nhpr

To hear Chuck Morse tell it, being Governor isn’t anything to get too excited about.  

“Somebody has to be in charge and the constitution provided for the senate president to do that, so it’s truly an honor.”


Morse was outside his state house office. A paper sign reading governor was taped over his usual senate nameplate. As he made his way down the hall, occasionally looking over his shoulder at the state trooper assigned to protect him until Governor-elect Sununu is sworn in, Morse offered terse greetings to lawmakers and lobbyists…..


Senate President Chuck Morse with state trooper assigned to protect him during his 60 hours as Acting Governor
Credit josh rogers/nhpr

“How we doing?”

“Good, how are you.”

 When Morse neared the house chamber, to preside during the ritual reading of vote totals in the races for Governor and council, the teasing began, first from Terry Pfaff, who works for the House Speaker.

“At 10 o’clock we start, not at Senate time, Mr Governor.”

Then from Demcratic Senator Lou D’Allesandro.

“Governor, could you appoint me as commissioner of....”

“Anything you want, Lou.”

If Governor Chuck Morse was trying to strike a more hail-fellow tone than what he displays as Senate president, it wasn’t working. His style as the senate’s leader is short on pomp and long on details. The state’s finances are Morse’s strong suit. He’s been the key architect of the last few state budgets, and his command of the numbers is recognized on both sides of the aisle. Lou D’Allesandro says Morse’s commitment to doing what it taked to lead the senate – pleasant or not -- is absolute.

“He’s hard ass. Sure, he can be tough.’

Those traits helped Morse get his way a good deal of the time when Maggie Hassan was governor. And while Morse and Governor-elect Sununu share a party affiliation, there will inevitably be some disagreement. D’Allesandro expects Morse to more than hold his own.

“There is no question that the new governor will learn rather quickly that not all power is in that corner office, some of it resides on the third floor in that corner office.”

But for now, the state’s current chief executive says he’ll be glad when his elected successor takes over.  

 “I’m looking forward to Chris being Governor.”

And then he can get back to work at his own job.