As predicted on this blog a few days ago, Gene Chandler, former Speaker of the New Hampshire House, won the race for minority (that is to say for Republican) leader Thursday evening.
The vote of 91-79 was also in the margin predicted here.
Strangely, Robert Rowe, outgoing Judiciary Committee Chair, seconded the nomination for Chandler after he had appeared in a posting from Ken Weyler (outgoing Finance Chair) announcing that he, Rowe, was on board for Pam Tucker, outgoing Speaker Bill O'Brien's deputy the past two years.
As they left Reps Hall, many Republicans (yours truly included of course) were heard to say that the vote represents a repudiation of O'Brien's leadership style which many in the print and electronic media are now blaming for the GOP loss of 120 seats in the House. (For example, I heard Grant Bosse expound on that very topic on the WGIR morning show yesterday).
Weyler, in nominating Tucker, tried to portray Chandler as someone who is not conversant with modern technology. "It's not just phone call and letters any more," he stated. He also stressed that seniority is not enough.
The majority of Republicans obviously disagreed. I thought the best speech was from Bedford Rep Laurie Sanborn who had been rumored to be interested in the job herself. She said that contrary to rumors, it's not a question of who is more moderate of more conservative, but rather of who is best qualified to bring members of the party together. Speaking of Republican losses, she stressed that the party cannot act as if nothing happened or the same thing will happen again in 2014.
In his remarks, Chandler stressed how Republicans could be proud that they balanced the budget, provided accurate revenue estimates, and proposed no new taxes during their tenure the past two years.
Lynn Ober, of Hudson, also seconded the Chandler nomination.
Tucker chose newly elected Representative Jane Cormier, of Alton, as one of her seconders. Another was more of a surprise. As he seconded Tucker, Dan Tamburello, of Londonderry, boasted of his 15 years as a Marine, but failed to mention his less than 50 percent attendance on House roll call votes this past year, a strange choice indeed for the speech.
Traditionally, the minority leader appoints members to various committees, and the Speaker accepts them although the Speaker always has final say, something Terri Norelli exercised when she took over in 2006.
Normally the Speaker (Democrats Norelli, of Portsmouth, and David Campbell, of Nashua, will face off Saturday--most expect Norelli will prevail) tells the minority leaders how many seats they will have on each committee, and the minority leader fills the spots.
It is widely expected that no matter who is chosen Speaker, Bill O'Brien's committee of redress of grievances will be long gone.
To relieve the undue burden on the Municipal and County Government Committee, Speaker Norelli four years ago created the Local and Regulated Revenues Committee which O'Brien abandoned.
The Democratic Speaker's first challenge may be a mathematical one. With the loss of a seat in Newmarket due to a recount yesterday, Democrats hold a 221-179 lead. Work out the math, and you discover that 20-member committees should be 11-9, but the 26-member Finance Committee should be 14-12 (221 divided by 400 times 26 is 14.364; round down to 14; 179 divided by 400 times 26 equals 11.635; round up to 12).
Should the Democratic Speaker attempt to give Democrats 15 seats to only 11 for Republicans on Finance, the well may well be poisoned before the first vote is cast! Just a heads up; some people, dedicated to fairness from both parties, are already running the numbers!
The victory by Chandler over Tucker can be considered a win for anti-gambling forces. He has long opposed expanded gambling while Tucker's go to man, Weyler, has been its biggest advocate (outside of Senator Lou D'Allesandro of course).
Norelli has always been anti-gambling; Campbell pro gambling. Even though Governor-Elect Maggie Hassan has expressed support for expanded gambling in the state, here's another prediction....expect it to fail once again in the House.
During the Republican voting, Concord Monitor reporter Ann Marie Timmins was seated just outside within earshot of what was said. It'll be interesting to see how she reports on it. Media was not allowed inside the closed caucus, but during a two hour q. and a. prior to the caucus, more than one current Rep (albeit not re-elected and thus not eligible to vote) such as David Bates, the lightning rod from Windham, was very much in evidence.
Also during the open q. and a. session, Rep George Lambert, of Litchfield (and sad to say, Wards 8--my ward--and 9 in Manchester) attempted to delve into leader Chandler's past (the corn roast). Several Republicans left the room when Lambert went into his antics. "How did that guy ever get re-elected?" one was heard to say.
I second that question.
Lamber is a disgrace to the party and the House!