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Dec 18, 2014 4:32 PM

Kevin Landrigan: House Speaker Shawn Jasper passes first test of his power


CONCORD - If Republicans didn't make Shawn Jasper speaker of the New Hampshire House should he get to name their leader?

This became the first test of Jasper's power under the new regime and he passed it with flying colors ironically thanks to support from House Democrats.

Steve Stepanek a former lieutenant under ex-Speaker Bill O'Brien, says its anti-democratic to have an autocratic leader pick everyone below him.

"I think it is very important the caucus pick the Republican leaders because the members are going to determine the agenda for the House as a whole,'' Stepanek said.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff says those closest must have the leaders' trust.

"I think it is important for the speaker to pick that individual, man or woman, to be majority leader,'' Shurtleff said.

O'Brien pursues this change to become majority leader to Jasper who beat him in the run for speaker 2 weeks ago.

Jasper says the effort ignores history and won't work.

"It has always been the right of the speaker to pick the majority as well as the minority leader,'' Jasper said.

Despite the 9-0 vote of the House Rules Committee, Londonderry Republican Al Baldasaro helps lead a band of dissidents who won't bend to Jasper's will.

"People in there that I know, good conservatives, folded to Shawn Jasper's position, okay, their loyalty is to him,'' Baldasaro concluded.

"My loyalty is to the people of New Hampshire, not to some powerful speaker who the Democrats put in place.''

This issue isn't going away. Stepanek and allies say they will bring this question to the full House when it finally approves its rules on Jan. 7th.


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