Dec 3, 2014 8:14 PM

Kevin Landrigan: In NH House Speaker stunner, Jasper takes down O'Brien

Shocking. Stunning. Unprecedented. Sorry folks you can't accuse me of hyperbole with 55-year-old, one-time chicken farmer Shawn Jasper's road to become the new speaker of the House.

"The speaker's office should really not be the policy arm of this body. That belongs to the majority and minority offices. And the policy shouldn't necessarily be driven by the speaker. The policy of this chamber should be driven by the majority,'' Jasper told the House.

This day was to be Bill O'Brien's road to redemption, taking back the speaker's gavel the voters took away from him two years ago.

But O'Brien came up four votes shy of pay dirt on the first ballot.

As NH1 reported he would, the 11-term Jasper then jumped in as the alternative and blasted O'Brien for seeking a public rather than secret ballot vote for the top job.

"This vote is not for our constituents. It is for us. We have the right to elect the person best to lead us for the next two years,'' Jasper said.

Nearly all House Democrats came along for the ride and delivered a 195-178 win for Jasper over O'Brien on the third ballot.

Now what? Jasper promised nothing to the Democrats, the fact he wasn't O'Brien was enough for them to jump into the tank with him.

This makes Senate President Chuck Morse the power under the Golden Dome.

Jasper has played second and even third banana for past, Republican House speakers and been a reliable conservative. But he's not ideologically driven and has had a maverick streak. In 2013, O'Brien tried to repeal Gov. Maggie Hassan's increase in the gas tax to pay for widening I-93 and other road and bridge projects.

Jasper took the House microphone to oppose O'Brien; ideological conservatives were so upset they demanded O'Brien strip Jasper of any position in the House Republican leadership. After tonight's vote, Jasper said he believes those wounds will heal and House Republicans won't be as fractured as Democrats are hoping they will be.


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