Dec 4, 2014 9:49 AM
Kevin Landrigan: New NH House Speaker Shawn Jasper is no raging moderate
Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley may be engaging in wishful thinking if he believes the surprise upset win of Shawn Jasper as the new House speaker is going to lead to Democratic-friendly policy changes.
An NH1 investigation found that with a few exceptions Jasper has been a reliable fiscal and social conservative during his 11 terms in the House.
His voting record includes opposition to same-sex marriage, a minimum wage increase, pay equity law, ban on smoking in restaurants, raising the school dropout age and repealing the death penalty.
Jasper has shown an independent streak such as when he opposed as excessive O'Brien's attempts to prevent out-of-state college students from voting in New Hampshire.
He also opposed an O'Brien bid to repeal the increase in the state gasoline tax that was dedicated to completing the widening of Interstate 93 along with other road and bridge projects.
Conservative Republicans were so upset with Jasper that they urged House GOP leaders to dump Jasper from his party's leadership team.
Jasper also angered right-wing interest groups last year backing a new campaign finance law requiring reporting by shadowy organizations that in the past did not have to disclose their spending.
Supporters of a casino may be similarly disappointed. While ex-House Speaker and upset victim Bill O'Brien said he had an open mind on legalizing a casino, Jasper not only opposed casinos, he opposed letting restaurants operate Keno games even though the New Hampshire State Lottery was pushing the change.
Meanwhile in a strange twist, the newly-promoted Jasper can't now serve on the executive committee of the Republican State Committee.
That's because the party's by-laws only require elected officials to serve on that panel if they are the choice of the Republican caucus.
O'Brien was the choice of House Republicans to return as speaker but fell four votes short on a majority on the first ballot during a six-hour marathon Wednesday.
Jasper offered himself as an alternative on the second ballot, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff dropped out and Jasper pulled off a stunning, 195-178, third-ballot win over O'Brien.
After the choice, GOP State Chairwoman Jennifer Horn said she was "disappointed'' the House had not chosen O'Brien.
Horn did say the party would review its by-laws at the state panel's next regular meeting Dec. 15.
Tune in to NH1 tonight for more on Speaker Jasper's political profile.