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The Latest: Van Ostern favored as next Secretary of State

November 15, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The Latest on the meeting of the Democratic majority of the New Hampshire House (all times local):

4:25 p.m.

The new Democratic majority in the New Hampshire House is favoring a new candidate for Secretary of State over Bill Gardner, the nation’s longest-serving secretary of state and guardian of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

In a nonbinding vote Thursday, Democrats picked Colin Van Ostern, a Democrat and former gubernatorial candidate. News reports say the vote was 179 for Van Ostern, 23 for Gardner, and 7 for former state Rep. Peter Sullivan.

Gardner has held the job for 42 years but has faced harsh criticism for serving on President Donald Trump’s commission on election fraud and for supporting Republican legislation to tighten voter registration rules. Van Ostern said he’s heard from legislators from both parties about how the office needs to be modernized.

The full Legislature makes the final decision Dec. 5.

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1:19 p.m.

The new Democratic majority in the New Hampshire House has nominated longtime Rep. Steve Shurtleff as its new speaker.

The full House will vote on a new speaker Dec. 5, but is likely to go along with Thursday’s caucus vote. Pending recounts, Democrats will hold a roughly 65-person advantage in the 400-member House.

Shurtleff, who is entering his eighth term representing the Penacook village of Concord, defeated Rep. Renny Cushing of Hampton by a vote of 183-42. He says his agenda includes mandatory training on sexual harassment for lawmakers and creating a human resources director for the Statehouse to handle complaints instead of the speaker’s office.

Shurtleff previously served as minority leader when Republicans were in power. Democrats also won control of the Senate in this month’s elections.

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