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Dec 2, 2014 5:16 PM

Bill O'Brien's return as NH house speaker faces last-minute speed bump


CONCORD - Tuesday was moving day at the State House as New Hampshire voters ushered in House Republicans to replace Democrats in power. But wait. A mysterious twist emerged on the eve of the expected, recovery coronation for conservative Bill O'Brien as house speaker.

11-term State Rep. Shawn Jasper, a Hudson republican, mounted a renegade bid to grab the gavel for himself.

Meanwhile, Senate President Chuck Morse looked forward to having O'Brien back in charge on the other side of the State House wall.

"Obviously with one more in the Senate and the House back in Republican hands we are looking forward to working with them,'' Morse said.

New Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn predicts his chamber will be the home for compromise deals. "My guess is the Senate will be the place where compromises are forged and we come together in a bipartisan fashion,'' Woodburn said.

Longtime, House GOP leader David Hess said O'Brien will never abandon his principles but will lead with a different style. "Representative O'Brien has said he will govern in a different fashion and I believe he means it,'' Hess said.

And Concord Democratic Rep. Kathy Rogers, for one, was willing to give O'Brien a shot at redemption. "The thing you will see from us, I suspect, is our desire to work together to move the state forward,'' Rogers said.

Republican State Chairwoman Jennifer Horn and ex-Gov. John H. Sununu were among several prominent Republicans who said they were urging House Republicans to resist any moves to block O'Brien from getting the top House honor.

Jasper has said he only has doubts that O'Brien could get the 201 votes needed to assure his elevation to house leader and stood ready to be an alternative choice.


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