Chandler gets nod to succeed Jasper as N.H. House Speaker

Staff photo by DAMIEN FISHER Bartlett’s Gene Chandler takes questions Tuesday after securing the Republican nomination to become the next House Speaker following two ballots.

CONCORD – It only took two votes for Gene Chandler to get the Republican nomination to be the next New Hampshire House Speaker.

“Sometimes the hard work you

put in over the years does pay off,” Chandler said.

Chandler, the Bartlett representative who had been serving as the deputy House Speaker, now faces a Thursday vote of the full House. The vote is necessary after Shawn Jasper,

the Hudson Speaker, was appointed Agriculture Commissioner earlier this month.

The Republican caucus on Tuesday saw four other candidates vye for the position, including Nashua native and Bedford Representative Laurie Sanborn, who came in second during both rounds of voting. Others were Steve Smith of Newport, Al Baldasaro of Londonderry and John Burt of Goffstown.

“People are more comfortable with what they have today,” Sanborn said.

Chandler, who has served as House Speaker twice before, represents a more mainstream Republican Party, as opposed to Sanborn’s more conservative brand. The House Republicans have been split for years since Jasper was first elected over conservative firebrand William O’Brien in 2014.

O’Brien, seen as a divisive figure, was set to become House Speaker when Jasper stepped in and secured the seat with the help of Democratic votes. This touched off years of bitter feelings between the conservatives in the House and Jasper, with the conservative House Freedom Caucus setting up shop outside the state capitol complex.

Chandler said he plans to bring all of the Republicans back under the same roof, and held out the option that leadership positions would be available for the Freedom Caucus members.

“Republicans want to have some unity,” Chandler said. “That’s not always been the case for the last few years.”

Chandler is not running for re-election in 2018, and hopes to be able to provide a smooth transition for the party as it heads into the mid-term election. Gov. Chris Sununu applauded the House Republicans for nominating Chandler, calling him a “strong, principled conservative.”

Sanborn, who also came in second earlier this year when she challenged Jasper for the Speakership, said it’s too early to say if she will run for the position again. She also declined to address speculation she is considering a state senate run. Her husband, State Sen. Andy Sanborn, is currently campaigning for the Congressional seat held by the vacating Democrat Carol Shea-Porter.

House Democrats are expected to nominate their candidate for Speaker on Thursday, ahead of the full House vote.

Libertarians nominated North Swanzey Rep. James McConnell with two votes over the one vote for his challenger Darryl Perry of Keene.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or or @Telegraph_DF.