Telling his colleagues he had reached a “crossroads,” state Senate President Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) announced Thursday he would not be seeking reelection this fall. It’s the end of 15 years in the state Senate, and a career in elective office that goes back to 1991.

“There are times that come to a crossroads, and I’m at one of those times. I’m not going to seek reelection,” the 71-year-old lawmaker told the Senate at the end of Thursday’s session. “It’s bittersweet, because I’ve had the opportunity to serve across the wall [the New Hampshire House], to serve in our nation’s Capitol, and in this absolutely beautiful room.

“I’ve had the opportunity to go on a number of other state houses, and I can tell you that there’s no nicer place to do the people’s business than right here in this room.”

Joseph Edmund “Jeb” Bradley III spent a decade in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, then two terms in Congress representing the First Congressional District. He lost reelection to Carol Shea-Porter in the George W. Bush backlash election of 2006, and Bradley thought that might be the end of his political career.

“In 2009, when I ran in that [state Senate] special election, I thought I was done and was moving on,” Bradley said Thursday. “Then Gov. John H. Sununu picked up the phone. He actually called my mother before he called me, and so he doubled-teamed me. And he said, ‘You’re running.’”

Bradley served as Senate Majority Leader from 2010 to 2018 and again from 2020 to 2022, before becoming Senate president.

“If you look at his career, he’s really evolved,” said Greg Moore, a former N.H. legislative staffer who now serves as regional director of Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire. “He was the classic ‘moderate Republican’ who only wanted to talk about fiscal issues when he was in Congress. Now he’s a champion of Education Freedom Accounts. The law that passed was basically his bill.”

Bradley’s announcement inspired accolades from both sides of the aisle.

“He’s a great public servant,” Gov. Chris Sununu told NHJournal. “There’s no issue that he doesn’t have some specific knowledge of, and now constituency he’s not willing to engage with. That’s exactly what you want out of your elected leaders. We were blessed to have him in the state house.

Sununu also called Bradley “an exemplary model of bipartisanship, a sentiment echoed by Senate Democratic caucus leader Sen. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester).

“I have always known Sen. Bradley to sincerely dedicate himself to finding bipartisan solutions, especially on the most challenging issues,” Soucy said in a statement. “You can always count on Sen. Bradley to work to find a ‘Bradley Special,’ and to challenge us all to do the same.”

After his announcement, Bradley was asked if he planned to be involved in the upcoming elections. “I think Chuck Morse would make a great governor,” Bradley replied. He’s backing his former Senate colleague in the GOP gubernatorial primary, and he made an appearance at a Morse fundraiser in Atkinson Thursday night.

Several Granite State Republicans raised concerns that Bradley’s departure could mean more of the intra-party conflict and lack of civility that’s spreading across American politics. “He always knew where the center of his caucus was,” one GOP professional told NHJournal. “He wasn’t going to throw bombs or push the envelope. He didn’t make the consensus as much as he found it.”

Bradley’s gregarious personality didn’t hurt, added former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.)

“His common sense, can-do approach, and genuine niceness are all too rare in the politics of today,” Gregg said.

Speculation is rampant among GOP insiders that Senate Majority Leader Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry) is likely to seek the top job in the upper chamber. Sen. Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead) is also widely believed to be interested, as is Sen. Tim Lang (R-Sanbornton).

And there is almost certain to be a GOP primary for the chance to fill the Wolfeboro state Senate seat. Within an hour of Bradley’s announcement, nine-term state Rep. Mark McConkey (R-Freedom) jumped into the race.

While there’s always tension between the legislature’s two chambers, Speaker Sherm Packard (R-Londonderry) had nothing but praise for his former House colleague.

“Both Sen. Bradley and I assumed office together as House representatives in December 1990. After more than 30 years of working together, I have gotten to know him as more than a colleague – he has become a friend,” Packard said in a statement.

“His respect for the institution and his colleagues speaks volumes of his character and will be a part of his legacy.”