New Hampshires State Secretary Bill Gardner, left, shows former Maryland Gov. Martin O & # 39; Malley, the historic poll…
Jim Cole / AP
Over the past four decades, the road to the White House has been passed through the Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s office in New Hampshire.
It is a mandatory stop for presidential hopes from both parties who parade through the lobby every four years to file candidate papers and formally place their name on the vote of New Hampshire’s first president in the United States.
But Gardner, the nation’s longest serving state secretary, risks losing his post as New Hampshire’s premier political ambassador and a hard-wearing protection against his place in the presidential calendar.
After 42 years of service, he faces his most serious challenge so far from a colleague of Democrats who lost his mind to condemn dissatisfaction with his position on election reforms.
The members of New Hampshires Citizens’ Legislature (400 Government Representatives and 24 State Senators) will decide the Gardners fate on Wednesday. New Hampshire is one of three states where the state secretary is elected by state legislators – not by voting or a nomination by the governor.
This year’s election sets Gardner, 70, against a former governor candidate who recently turned his focus on the election reform, Colin Van Ostern. The race has come to a large extent to a debate about whether Gardner’s reputation preserves the state’s political traditions considering criticism as to how well he manages other responsibilities in his office.
“The best way to maintain the primary for another hundred years is to bring the new necessary energy and commitment to the office’s other and equally important roles such as securing voter lists, increasing openness, monitoring business services, and protecting free and fair elections” , says Van Ostern at the start of his campaign.
Ostern, 39, has a background as a political operative and has increased almost a quarter of a million dollars against his campaign to eliminate the existing one – which led to concern that he would undermine the role of the Secretary of State as an impartial monitoring of state elections.
Voter ID requirements, Trump voter fraud panel
But Gardner has also criticized his impartiality in recent years.
This year’s campaign to abolish him will after a year blur frustration from local liberals over his
Gardner has said he wants more people to vote but he is skeptical that efforts aimed at making it more comfortable come to achieve that goal.
“People will go out of their way if something has value,” says Gardner 2015, explaining his philosophy of election reforms. “People will make efforts if it’s worthwhile. If it does not, they will not do it. “
But it is probably the biggest catalyst behind this year to push Gardner to be his participation in President Trump’s” Presidential Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity ” .
After accepting a place on the Trump panel, Gardner – who had otherwise had bipartisan support and a legacy free from a major public controversy – encountered an unprecedented level of pushback from critics who saw the Commission as an attempt to find justification for the president’s untreated allegations of widespread voter fraud.
“Secretary Gardner’s association with this party commission risks losing his long legacy of fighting New Hampshire Primary and promoting voting” Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen said last year and urged him to go down from the panel. (Both Hassan and Shaheen have refused to approve a can didat of this year’s state secretary.)
Despite public pressure, Gardner not only defended his role – he doubled his commitment and hosted his second meeting in New Hampshire.
“New Hampshire people are not used to going away or descending from their civic duties,” Gardner said in his initial comments on the forum, “and I will not.”
The commission stopped stagnating under the weight of trial and suddenly resolved in early 2018, but questions about its motives have continued to follow Gardner in his quest for re-election. Steve Shurtleff, who is ready to be New Hampshire’s next House Speaker, said that it was a crucial factor in his choice to support Van Ostern.
“I have enormous regard to Bill Gardner and the work he did, but I think it’s time for the state of New Hampshire to maybe make a change,” Shurtleff said recently.
But Gardner has been able to count on the support of other Allies with a lot of hugs in the state’s political establishment during the last weeks of the campaign: political dignitaries organized a state-owned rally on his behalf; five former governors published an open letter urging legislators to give him another term and top party activists penned columns that praised his bank card that ran New Hampshire.
“He has served with the highest integrity”, wrote Republican Commissioner Steve Duprey and Democratic National Commissioner Terry Shumaker in New Hampshire Union Leader . “His non-partisan approach has earned the greatest respect and trust from leaders on sides here as well as in other states.”
However, the decision is ultimately up to New Hampshire’s legislature, which has had a significant turnover this year – which means that many of the people who decide the fate of Gardner lack the same allegiances as the big names of politicians and party activists and may prove more sympathetic to arguments that it’s time for someone new.