CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire’s Republican lawmakers didn’t look far into their ranks in selecting who they want to replace House Speaker Shawn Jasper, picking his deputy and a former two-term speaker as their nominee.
Jasper was confirmed last week as the state’s next agriculture commissioner. On Tuesday, House Republicans took two ballots to nominate Deputy Speaker Gene Chandler, of Bartlett, to replace him. Chandler, who is in his 18th year in the House, said he believes Republicans chose him because of his ability to unify the party and because he’ll provide a smooth transition to the second year of the two-year session. He does not plan to run for Speaker again in 2018.
“I’m the old white guy, I can’t help that, that’s just the way it is,” he said. “But I think my experience showed a little bit there, and people look for it.”
Though he acknowledged his position as the “establishment candidate,” Chandler said if he becomes speaker, he will add members from more conservative groups to his leadership team.
“You’ve gotta start by having a conversation,” he said.
Chandler previously served as speaker from 2001 to 2004. He withdrew from the speaker’s race in 2004 over allegations that he failed disclose cash gifts from lobbyists and others. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was reprimanded by the House for violating ethics rules.
Four other Republicans sought the nomination, with Rep. Laurie Sanborn, of Bedford, coming in second. She said she might run again but hopes the full House will back Chandler in the meantime.
“People who were supporting me, who were very excited about my candidacy, wanted to see a new face representing the party, new energy, a new approach, a lot more collaborative approach in the New Hampshire House and a lot more unifying message,” she said. “Unfortunately I did not prevail today, Gene Chandler did. I think that comes down to people were more comfortable with what they have today, and he is the deputy speaker, and they went with what they’re comfortable with.”
Libertarians have nominated Jim McConnell, of Swanzey. Democrats will caucus on Thursday, followed by the full House vote.
This story has been corrected to show that Democrats will caucus on Thursday, not Wednesday.
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