New Hampshire’s junior senator, like the entire Republican caucus, is refusing to give any consideration whatsoever to anyone President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court. And, like the entire Republican caucus, she should be ashamed of herself for abdicating her sworn duty — and for, as usual, undermining the legitimacy of our (twice) duly-elected president.
But Ayotte has an additional, very specific, reason to be ashamed. Her entire political career has its roots in a very unusual act of nonpartisanship. If it wasn’t for a pair of decisions by a Democrat, there would be no Senator Kelly Ayotte.
First, a bit of essential background. New Hampshire’s Attorney General is not elected. It is an appointed position with a four-year term. The governor chooses an AG with the approval of the five-member Executive Council (itself a wacky feature of Granite State governance, go Wikipedia it if you’re curious).
Back in 2004, then-AG Peter Heed resigned. The governor at the time was Craig Benson, a Republican so feckless that he was actually defeated in his first bid for re-election. Yup, served one term and got kicked to the curb. But he was governor at the time, and he nominated a young, ambitious attorney named Kelly Ayotte to replace Heed. And she got the job.
After Benson’s ejection, Ayotte’s partial term ran its course. Democratic Governor John Lynch chose to nominate her for a full term.
And, at the end of that full term, he nominated her once again.
And she ducked out of that term early on, to run for senate in 2010, thus reneging on a promise to Lynch that she would serve her full term as AG.
It is a certainty that, if not for the generosity of Democrat John Lynch, there’s no way Kelly Ayotte would be a U.S. Senator today.
Is she returning the favor? No. She is joining her colleagues in essentially spitting in the President’s face.