Dec 4, 2014 5:18 PM

Kevin Landrigan: All about new NH House Speaker Shawn Jasper

CONCORD - "It's still a little bit surreal because I keep wondering did it really, did this really happen because it shouldn't have,'' Jasper said.

That's Shawn Jasper, the stunning, new speaker of the New Hampshire House who engineered an upset of Republican favorite Bill O'Brien.

Jasper appealed to several others to take on O'Brien until all said no and it was up to him.
"I didn't want to do this. If I had ever had hoped to run it wouldn't have been this way,'' Jasper said.

The 11-term Republican agrees he would have lost if O'Brien's team had not overplayed their hand by seeking a public rather than secret ballot vote.

"I think that was the clear signal that things were not going to be different,'' Jasper continued.

Jasper promised them nothing but said House Democrats will have in him someone who knows the minority deserves the same fair treatment as the party in power.

"They will get somebody who will listen to what they have to say. They will be treated with the respect their offices deserve,'' Jasper said.

He's got an independent streak but Jasper's 20 year record is chock full of votes for fiscal and conservative causes for the death penalty, against raising the minimum wage and same-sex marriage.

"I've been a Republican all my life. My family has been Republicans for almost 100 years,'' Jasper said.

O'Brien and Jasper haven't spoken but Jasper knows some will be holding long knifes trying to make him look bad.

"I know there are elements of the right that it doesn't matter if it's a Republican, if it's not the speaker of their choice then they will do their level best to cause disruption in the House,'' Jasper observed.

One consolation. You're not beholden if you are in the dark about how you got to the top.

"You know I have no idea who really supported me and who didn't,'' Jasper joked.

A University of New Hampshire graduate, Jasper is a proud alumni of Alpha Gamma Rho, the fraternity for the agricultural school.

"Yes, my brothers are proud of me, my daughter is attending UNH now and my family have been going to UNH for generations. I've got a real affinity for the university and always will,'' Jasper added.

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