- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Republicans have wrested back control of the New Hampshire State House for the first time in a dozen years, winning back the governorship and keeping majorities in both legislative chambers.

“I think everyone’s excited to get the campaigns behind us and really get down to work,” governor-elect Chris Sununu said Wednesday.

The GOP will hold a slim majority in the state Senate and a wider one in the House. It’s the first time since 2002 that a Republican has won the governorship, giving the party a mandate for control in Concord.

That means laws expanding gun rights, local control in education and other conservative issues are more likely to pass into law after facing outgoing Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s veto pen for the past two years. Hassan is heading to the U.S. Senate after narrowly defeating Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper and Senate President Chuck Morse expressed confidence at Republicans’ ability to make positive change in Concord.

“I think people saw Republicans do know how to provide a responsible, responsive government,” Jasper said. “I’m really enthused and excited about that.”

Still, a GOP sweep doesn’t mean party unity. Jasper is facing a challenge to his speakership, while Morse said he’s not expecting any.

Crafting the next state budget will be the first item on the agenda when the new two-year term begins in January. Sununu will get first crack at the budget, which must be balanced by law, before sending it to the Legislature. Morse said he looks forward to helping Sununu craft a budget “that lives within its means and is balanced.”

As for other priorities, Sununu promised to do more to fight the state’s opioid and heroin crisis, to court out-of-state businesses and to put a 90-day moratorium on new business regulations. The fate of the state’s Medicaid expansion plan, which provides health insurance to roughly 50,000 low-income people, is uncertain with Sununu in charge.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said GOP lawmakers will focus on stemming the tide of drug addiction, improving mental health services and those for people with developmental disabilities and fixing problems at the state’s Division for Children, Youth and Families.

Sununu is at odds with some in his party on abortion. He favors abortion rights and said Wednesday he’ll continue to do so as governor. But he also said he supports so-called fetal homicide legislation and is against late-term abortions.

Sununu struck an optimistic chord about his ability to work with lawmakers, saying he’d be a “good listener” for Republicans and Democrats alike.

“It’s not just my agenda that I’m trying to throw down on the table,” he said.

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