CONCORD – New Hampshire has a new governor — for two days.
Republican Senate President Chuck Morse is in charge between former governor Maggie Hassan's swearing in as a U.S. Senator and Gov.-elect Chris Sununu's inauguration. He's approaching the short stint with a bit of sharp humor.
"Over the last four years, I thought I was the acting governor," he said, referencing Hassan's two terms. The pair often sparred over who deserved credit for the state budget and other policy accomplishments.
Morse officially became governor at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday and will hold the job until about noon Thursday, when Sununu is sworn in. It's a short stint, but Morse is getting all the treatment of a regular governor, including a security detail to pick him up each morning at his Salem home. He was ceremoniously introduced as governor to kick off Wednesday's House session, sitting next to Speaker Shawn Jasper's as members prayed, sang the national anthem and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Morse, who's been Senate president since 2013, said he has no big plans for his newfound power. He's opting to mostly remain in his third-floor Senate office, saying he's too superstitious to sit in the governor's chair. But he's planned some ceremonial activities in the governor's chamber, including signing proclamations and taking photos with members from his home district.
While rare, the situation isn't unprecedented. Former Senate President Ralph Hough served as governor for about a week in 1993, when Judd Gregg left the post to become a U.S. Senator. Other states have had similar — or stranger — situations. New Jersey once had five governors over eight days in 2002.
Morse said a surprising amount of preparation went into his two-day reign.
That prep included meetings with the Departments of Safety and Homeland Security and Emergency Management, as well as assigning the temporary security detail. It also involved meetings with the Senate's legal counsel to understand how Morse's Senate role would change. Senate President Pro Tempore Sharon Carson presided over Wednesday's brief session.
Morse said he's not looking to step on his successor's toes.
"I'm a firm believer that Chris Sununu is the next governor," he said.
But someone did mark a spot on the State House walls where Morse could be forever remembered.
Underneath a printed out headshot of Morse taped to a second-floor wall read the words, "The Future Site of the Portrait of Interim Governor Chuck Morse."