Dec 2, 2014 2:48 PM
Kevin Landrigan: Republican NH Rep. trying to deny Bill O'Brien House speakership
CONCORD - Political observers give him long odds but 11-term State Rep. Shawn Jasper is making a last-ditch attempt to grab the House speaker's gavel away from conservative Bill O'Brien tomorrow, NH1 has confirmed.
For several days, Jasper has been calling like-minded, maverick Republicans to cobble together enough and team with House Democrats to block O'Brien to the top House spot.
House Democrats huddled privately Tuesday about the development. Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff declined comment but the rank-and-file is split over whether to help Jasper or allow O'Brien to return as speaker.
State Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley has said O'Brien's revival will give his party a much better chance of turning the tables and seizing back the House majority two years from now.
Jasper had been a lieutenant in the speaker's campaign of Bartlett Republican Gene Chandler last month.
O'Brien not only beat Chandler by four votes in that House GOP caucus but brought much of Chandler's team into the leadership fold.
O'Brien already given his former adversary the honorary title of House speaker pro tem.
Initially, Jasper told reporters last month he was hopeful O'Brien would lead with a less autocratic style if given a second chance to lead.
After voters ousted O'Brien's as speaker in the 2012 elections, Jasper made a celebrated break with O'Brien in 2013.
At that time, O'Brien moved to repeal an increase in the state gasoline tax but Jasper gave a spirited speech against the former speaker.
The conservative House Republican Alliance leadership was so upset with Jasper's move that it threatened to boycott meetings of House GOP members if Jasper wasn't dumped from his party's leadership team.