In government, competence is rare enough to be remarkable. 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.
It’s also a rare governor who’s a familiar face to most of the state’s fourth-grade population.
Lynch has, indeed, been a rare governor.
In a recent editorial board meeting, Lynch said he always leaves meetings, no matter how important, to greet fourth-graders who visit the Statehouse as part of their year-long study of the state.
He’s also a familiar face to many other Granite Staters. He’s probably attended more veterans’ events, business ribbon-cuttings and expansions, Old Home Day cookouts and parades than any other leader in recent memory.
Since the popular Democrat defeated one-term Republican Gov. Craig Benson in 2004, 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 he has embodied. That desire may have been misinterpreted by legislators who have offered voters one extreme or the other.