Republicans Pick O’Brien for Speaker

On Tuesday, the House Republican caucus narrowly voted to nominate former speaker Bill O’Brien for Speaker of the House. Since Republicans hold a majority, it’s a safe bet that O’Brien will be the one holding the gavel for the next two years.

Ultimately, O’Brien’s only opponent was another former House speaker, Rep. Gene Chandler, who challenged and narrowly lost to O’Brien four years ago. Just as in that vote, O’Brien won by just a few votes — four to be specific. On Tuesday, O’Brien’s supporters insisted the state would see a different leader this time around. SEA Director John Hattan said he’s hopeful that’s the case, for the state’s sake.

“Above all, what people want and need is a government that works to serve the needs of all the businesses and people of NH,” said Hattan, who’s the chair of the SEA’s Political Education Committee. “We really hope that he’s grown as a pragmatic leader who will work across party and ideological lines to help our state and all its people succeed. Actions speak louder than words, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Under O’Brien’s last term of leadership, we saw huge budget reductions to education and the mental health system, pension legislation that cut working families’ retirements and taxed their incomes (and is still under litigation) in a relentless attack on families and workers’ rights. This is the agenda that voters rejected in the 2012 election and we don’t believe they wish repeated in the current legislative session.

“We would rather work together to improve the lives of all the families in our state, but if Speaker O’Brien plans to advance a similar agenda as he did last time, we’re ready to defend the American dream of a better life for all the families state employees serve,” Hattan said.

The official election for Speaker will take place Dec. 3, when the House holds Organizing Day. The new legislative session begins Jan. 7.

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