NH1 News Reports: With election over, NH State House Speaker battle heats up
CONCORD – State House Majority Leader Dick Hinch says that Speaker Shawn Jasper deserves a second term running New Hampshire’s House of Representatives.
“We were able to successfully get the budget veto overridden. We were able to get business tax cuts to go into effect for the first time in 20 years. There were a number of major accomplishments that can be directly attributed back to his superb leadership. So yes I think he well deserves to come back as speaker, Hinch told NH1 News on Tuesday.
But state Rep. Laurie Sanborn of Bedford, one of three Republican lawmakers challenging Jasper, said the speaker’s been “very divisive” in his leadership and that representatives backing her want a “conservative person” steering the chamber.
Monday Hinch announced that the Republican caucus will meet on Nov. 30th to pick the Speaker. A vote in the full House would come the following week.
When he announced on September 20 his bid for a second term as speaker, Jasper said “we haven’t held on to the House for two terms in a row since 2002, 2004. I can’t imagine for a second that if in fact we are able to do that the Republicans in the House will reject the leadership that brought them there.”
Although the GOP lost about 15 seats to the Democrats in last week’s election, they still control the chamber by a comfortable margin.
“I don’t know of any time in recent history where a sitting speaker has not prevailed to move forward for a second term,” Hinch, who's Jasper's right hand man in the chamber, told NH1 News on Tuesday. “When you do the math certainly the advantage would go to the sitting speaker, when you’re out there counting noses, which we’re doing and they’re doing.”
When he announced two months ago, Jasper touted that “we have brought civility back to the legislature where there had been a great deal of breakdown in that area.”
That seemed to be a jab at the previous GOP speaker, retiring state Rep. Bill O’Brien of Mont Vernon.
Even though O’Brien had the support of the majority of the GOP caucus following the 2014 elections, when the party won back the chamber, his confrontational style was enough to convince some Republicans to team up with the chamber’s Democrats to give Jasper the gavel.
But Sanborn says Jasper’s been anything but civil.
“I think people are very concerned about his very divisive leadership style that he’s had in the last two years and I think there needs to be a challenge to that and we’ll see where the voters in the New Hampshire House go,” she told NH1 News.
“All of my supporters and future supporters want a conservative person who believes in the Republican values and hold those dear to our heart. Those are the things that we’ll want to purse together as a team. But they also want someone who can bridge the divide,” Sanborn continued.
“The Republican caucus in the House and at large has been very divided. They want to see us come back together. They’re tired of the vindictive politics that they’ve seen. People are penalized from voting differently from the leader. And we need to change the tone of politics and I think they see me as a leader who can craft a shared agenda with all Republicans, getting all Republicans on the same bus and on the same team. Because we really have this wonderful opportunity before us to pass some great legislation and restore the New Hampshire advantage,” she added.
Besides Sanborn, state Reps. Carol McGuire of Epsom and Frank Sapareto of Derry are also challenging Jasper.
State Rep. Laurie Sanborn of Bedford talks with NH1 News at the State House on Nov. 15, 2016
State House Majority Leader Dick Hinch talks with NH1 News at the State House on Nov. 15, 2016