DSCC - NH's Valley News Editorial: Will She or Won't She Run?

But the job she currently holds is one that pre-eminently demands a non-partisan approach. It's never healthy when the public may infer that the administration of justice could be put in the service of political ambition. To take but one of many possible examples, the public is entitled to know that the attorney general's opposition to medicinal marijuana legislation is based on her best assessment of the legal consequences, rather than a calculation of potential political benefit. We hope that the attorney general will take the opportunity to clear up this particular mystery sooner rather than later.

Valley News: Will She or Won't She Run?

Editorial

http://www.vnews.com/07072009/5818172.htm

Sarah Palin's decision to resign as governor of Alaska 18 months before the end of her first term to pursue "a higher calling" is mysterious and maybe a little messianic. Is the Republican rock star simply fed up with her gubernatorial duties, or is she intent on pursuing her party's 2012 presidential nomination with single-minded devotion? Time will tell whether there is method to her political madness or simply gross miscalculation.

Of more immediate interest to us is the fate of another possible young Republican star, New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. With the announcement last week that former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu will take a pass on trying to return to Washington next year, Ayotte is attracting serious attention in Republican circles as a possible candidate to succeed U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, who is retiring. Gregg himself told New Hampshire Public Radio last week that Ayotte would be an excellent candidate if she chose to run, and she is also reportedly being touted by party heavyweights in Washington.

It may well be that Ayotte, 41, would prove to be a formidable candidate and a productive senator. A recent University of New Hampshire poll suggests that she has strong favorable ratings and could mount a serious challenge to U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, the Democratic Second District congressman who has already decided to try to move up. The poll showed Ayotte edging Hodes, 39 percent to 35 percent, with 2 percent choosing someone else and 24 percent without an opinion.

It must be noted, of course, that it's easier to make a favorable impression on voters when you have never held elective office, as Ayotte has not. Her career has followed a legal arc, from private lawyer to head of the attorney general's homicide division to the state’s top law enforcement officer. Upper Valley residents perhaps know her best as the prosecutor in the case of the two Chelsea teenagers charged in the 2001 murders of Dartmouth College professors Half and Susanne Zantop.

For her part, Ayotte has declined comment on her potential political future and says she is focusing on her job as attorney general, to which she was reappointed for a full term three months ago by Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, and confirmed by the Executive Council. A Lynch spokesman says that she was reappointed with the understanding that she would serve through 2013, an assertion about which Ayotte has also declined comment.

Playing coy about future plans is common in political circles, so at one level there's nothing unusual in Ayotte's deflecting speculation with a I’m-just-concentrating-on-my-current-job brushoff.

But the job she currently holds is one that pre-eminently demands a non-partisan approach. It's never healthy when the public may infer that the administration of justice could be put in the service of political ambition. To take but one of many possible examples, the public is entitled to know that the attorney general's opposition to medicinal marijuana legislation is based on her best assessment of the legal consequences, rather than a calculation of potential political benefit.

We hope that the attorney general will take the opportunity to clear up this particular mystery sooner rather than later.