N.H. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley may face primary challenge on ‘conservative credentials’

  • Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley is seen during a New Hampshire Senate session at the State House in downtown Concord on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. Elizabeth Frantz / Montor file

  • Republican Steven Steiner is considering challenging Jeb Bradley for his seat in the state Senate. Courtesy

For the Monitor
Thursday, April 19, 2018

Jeb Bradley hasn’t had to weather a credible primary challenge during his nine years in the state Senate.

But the Republican from Wolfeboro and longtime Senate majority leader may have one on his hands this time around.

Republican Steven Steiner of Conway has said he’s considering an exploratory bid for Bradley’s seat in the Senate’s 3rd District, the Monitor learned.

Steiner said Republicans have come to question Bradley’s conservative credentials, citing “Bradley’s support for Obamacare, gun control, and voting against tax cuts amongst a slew of other votes that do not represent the makeup of the district.”

“For years now, we have seen failed leadership and bad votes taken by our current State Senator, Jeb Bradley, and it is time we reassess who is making decisions for us in Concord,” Steiner said in a statement.

Taking on Bradley won’t be easy. He’s faced no real intra-party opposition since first winning his Senate seat in a 2009 special election. And he’s easily secured each re-election, winning his 2014 and 2016 victories by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

Bradley told the Monitor that he is running for re-election this year.

The former two-term Republican congressman from the state’s 1st District is well known in his home district, which stretches from Milton in the south up through Wolfeboro, Ossipee and Moultonborough and north to Conway, Bartlett and Jackson.

Steiner, who at 57 is eight years younger than Bradley, owns a real estate company in the Conway region. He’s married with two children.

Steiner ran unsuccessfully for the state House of Representatives in 2012. He currently serves on the Conway planning board, budget committee, and zoning board of adjustment. He said he now has the name recognition – at least in Conway – that he didn’t have when he ran for the House.

Steiner said his family’s signed on to his potential Senate bid.

“I just want to see if I can get further support from different groups and different people from my own town, and I’ll be making the decision in June,” Steiner said.

The filing period for candidates running in 2018 is June 6-15.

Steiner said Bradley’s a terrific person, but he isn’t conservative enough.

“I love Jeb. He’s a great guy. But I don’t agree with all of his politics,” Steiner said. “This is an overwhelmingly conservative and Republican seat that deserves to have someone who aligns fully with those values.”

Steiner pointed to Bradley’s openness in recent weeks for discussion on so-called “red flag” legislation that would make it easier for police to seize weapons from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. Steiner disagrees.

“Giving up gun rights because we have some bad actors is a bad thing,” he said.

And Steiner, who lost a son nearly 18 years ago to a drug overdose, was critical of Bradley and other state lawmakers for their efforts in battling the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic.

“It’s a terrible situation, and we need serious players that really look for solutions, not just passing legislation to look good,” Steiner said.

He complimented President Donald Trump’s efforts on the drug crisis.

“I think what the president’s doing in Washington is stellar. (He’s) doing a great job on the issue,” he said.

Steiner gained national attention a couple of years ago after helping to save the life of a young man who had overdosed on heroin. Steiner, a trained EMT, was leaving a real estate convention in Manchester when he resuscitated a man slumped over on the steering wheel of his car. Steiner twice performed CPR on the man before the arrival of Manchester paramedics and police – along with a crew from ABC News that was filming a documentary on the heroin crisis. Steiner’s exploits were included in an ABC News 20/20 special.

Bradley, a crucial player in the state Senate, has often reached across party lines to seek compromise on major pieces of legislation. He has a long list of legislative achievements, including the state’s Medicaid expansion program, which provides health insurance to some 50,000 low-income Granite Staters, but is an anathema to conservatives.