Jeb Bradley, the former U.S. Congressman with his eye on both the Granite State Governor’s Office and Jeanne Shaheen’s seat in the U.S. Senate, is leading Republican opposition to Obamacare. A New Hampshire State Senator who is serves as the Senate Majority Leader, Bradley has said, “I’m very skeptical that we should expand Medicaid, and I get more skeptical every day as other aspects of Obamacare can’t seem to get implemented.”
After being ousted from Washington, D.C. by Carol Shea-Porter in 2006 and then losing a rematch with her, Bradley was elected to the New Hampshire State Senate in a special by-election in 2009. As Majority Leader, Bradley is the second most powerful Republican in the state, after Senate President .Peter Bragdon. Yet, the experienced Bradley likely is the real power behind the GOP throne.
The Republican opposition to Medicaid expansion thwarts the desires of Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, and the New Hampshire House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats, to expand Medicaid to 58,000 residents lacking health insurance.
Mediciad already covers 137,000 people in New Hampshire.
The Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act struck down its Medicaid expansion mandate on the states, thus allowing states to opt out of all that part of Obamacare. President Obama intended to extend health insurance by putting those working poor who lack it on the Medicaid rolls. The federal government would pick up the tab for 90% of the cost in the initial years of the program.
In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer, a conservative Republican, created a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to get Medicaid expansion through the State Legislature.
Justifying her stance, Brewer told the New York Times, “It’s pro-life, it’s saving lives, it is creating jobs, it is saving hospitals.” She added, “I don’t know how you can get any more conservative than that,” she said.
Yet, the Times reports that her support for this aspect of Obamacare had caused a rift between her and the Arizona Republican Party’s right-wing. It is a lesson Bradley, an experienced politician, likely has learned from.
Jeb Bradley reportedly has his eyes on either becoming governor or returning to Washington, D.C. by winning U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s seat, both of which are up for grabs in 2014. To win, he will need to rally the conservative to reactionary members to the Granite State GOP to his banner.
Bradley twice lost New Hampshire’s First Congressional District when he last ran for state-wide office. The First is more conservative then the Second Congressional District (currently represented by liberal Democrat Annie Kuster).
In May, Bradley attended the New Hampshire Republican Party’s first “Liberty Dinner” that was headlined by libertarian favorite Rand Paul. The libertarian wing of the Granite State GOP, which includes the Tea Party, had held its own “Liberty Dinners” before the state party decided to co-opt the event.
President Obama and Obamacare are anathema to the “Liberty Republicans”, which is just a re-branding of the Tea Party.
These reactionary elements of the Republican Party spearheaded the GOP’s tremendous win in 2010, when the Republicans swept all state-wide offices except for governor and ousted the Democrats from control of both chambers of the state legislature, winning veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate. The GOP won back both Congressional seats and retained the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican.
Two years later, those same Tea Partiers were wiped out, and the Democrats took back the House and nearly won the Senate.
Rather tacking toward the center, Jeb Bradley has apparently decided to steer a course tack to the right. While it may bolster his standing in the New Hampshire Republican Party, where Tea Partiers and libertarians are still a power, it is unlikely to win him broad appeal come November 2014. His opposition to Obamacare could cost him his political dreams.