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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Republican House Speaker Jasper announces re-election bid, lambasts competitors

By DEREK EDRY
Staff Writer

CONCORD - After officially announcing Tuesday he will seek re-election, Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper of Hudson quickly changed focus, using the opportunity to attack his opponents.

Speaking at a press conference a week after a contentious primary in which he finished eighth in his district in the race for 11 spots on the November ballot, Jasper dismissed criticisms against him as unfounded. ...

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CONCORD - After officially announcing Tuesday he will seek re-election, Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper of Hudson quickly changed focus, using the opportunity to attack his opponents.

Speaking at a press conference a week after a contentious primary in which he finished eighth in his district in the race for 11 spots on the November ballot, Jasper dismissed criticisms against him as unfounded.

"People who say we aren't conservative enough are speaking to a false narrative," said Jasper, the Concord Monitor reported.

Running against Jasper are Bedford Rep. Laurie Sanborn and Epsom Rep. Carol McGuire.

Jasper was first elected Speaker in December 2014 after winning an upset victory over former Republican Speaker William O'Brien of Mont Vernon with support from Democrats, despite losing the Republican vote. In doing so, Jasper defied state party rules that call for Republicans to embrace whoever emerges from the caucus of GOP-only members as speaker.

McGuire argues that the manner in which Jasper was elected was a large part of the problem.

Both Sanborn and McGuire have accused Jasper of making decisions in a top-down style without input from other representatives.

Yet Sanborn and McGuire have voted against House committee recommendations on legislation most of the time, Jasper said.

"That tells you a totally different narrative than what they are trying to sell with their campaigns," he said. "If you don't have confidence in your fellow Republicans on the committees (who are) hearing the testimony, doing the work, doing the research ... there's where the division is."

"If the committee made the right recommendations, we'd vote for them," said McGuire in response to Jasper's criticism.

McGuire also argued that absenteeism at committee voting sessions is part of the problem.

When asked how he plans to unite the party if he wins, Jasper said there are some members whose conservative views he doesn't know how to address.

"You've got to look at the facts at what's gone on for decades now, certainly the last 10-15 years. We have people who - former Libertarians - who may still be Libertarians at heart, I don't know. ... There's some people who call themselves Free Staters, and I don't know what can be done there."

On the Democratic side, Penacook Rep. Steve Shurtleff is the only candidate who has officially announced a campaign for House Speaker. The speaker's election will be held after the Nov. 8 election.

Derek Edry can be reached at (603) 594-6589, dedry@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_Derek.