Sanborns quit seats in Concord

Last modified: 6/6/2012 12:00:00 AM
The state's only bicameral couple - state Sen. Andy Sanborn and state Rep. Laurie Sanborn of Henniker - have resigned from public office to switch their home district to Bedford, where they plan to run for seats this fall in their respective legislative bodies.

Andy Sanborn said he and his wife chose to resign yesterday - prior to several important votes today at the end of the legislative session - because state law requires them to register as voters in Bedford before filing to run as candidates there. The filing period for legislative candidates begins today, and last night supervisors of the checklist across the state convened to adjust their voter rolls prior to the filing period.

"At the end of the day, I don't want to break the law," Sanborn said yesterday of the decision to resign. There may have been ways he and Laurie could have "stretched it out" for another day, Sanborn said, but he became concerned enough about potential legal disqualifications that he "just decided to do the most conservative thing I could."

Sanborn joked that the decision keeps with his conservative political leanings - both he and Laurie are Republicans - and added that his absence in the Senate will not change the outcome of votes there today. But Laurie's resignation - she was assistant deputy majority leader - could be another vote lost as the House Republican leadership tries to round up every ounce of support to finally pass a long-debated constitutional amendment on education funding.

House Majority Leader Pete Silva said in a statement on Laurie Sanborn's resignation that "it's certainly a shame to lose her passion, her energy and her commitment to Republican values, and I have a hunch we might see her back in Concord soon."

Silva was named majority leader last week following the resignation of D.J. Bettencourt, whose departure amid scandal was another vote lost for the education funding amendment.

The Sanborns, who own The Draft sports bar on South Main Street, have represented Henniker since being elected in 2010. In February, they announced they would be moving to Bedford at the end of the 2011-2012 legislative session "in order to be closer to Laurie's parents."

The move also made political sense for Andy after Henniker was added to Concord's Senate district during the redistricting process, which would have pitted him against Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen of Concord. Bedford's Senate seat is open after first-term Republican Sen. Ray White decided against running for re-election. Sanborn's only declared opponent so far on the Republican side is Rep. Ken Hawkins, a longtime Bedford resident who has overseen the House's pension reform efforts.

Hawkins released a statement last night criticizing Sanborn's resignation in order to move to Bedford.

"Andy Sanborn's signs moved into the district before he did," Hawkins said. "To think that you can abandon the Senate district you represent, resign before major votes are taken just to further your own political career, is certainly not the New Hampshire way or what constituents who place their trust in you expect."

While Sanborn said his resignation will not prove consequential for today's votes, it could have ramifications later this month if the Legislature seeks to override any bills vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch. Though the Senate has yet to pick a day for those votes, the House has penciled in June 27 to deal with potential vetoes.

Sen. Sanborn's absence could impact Senate Bill 409, legalizing medical marijuana. Lynch has previously pledged to veto the bill, which was three Senate votes shy of a veto-proof majority. Sanborn has voted in favor of the bill.

Sanborn noted that Republicans still hold a 18-5 majority in the Senate, and only 16 votes are needed to override a gubernatorial veto. Sanborn said it's too early to say if his absence could affect the outcome on veto day because "you don't know if the governor is going to veto anything" and "even in the Republican caucus, people change their minds all the time."

Sanborn said yesterday that "anyone who wants to criticize me for not voting tomorrow wants me to break the law."

"I'm just not going to do that," he said.

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com.)


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