CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire’s newly elected Democratic representatives nominated former House speaker and current House minority leader Terie Norelli of Portsmouth on Saturday as their speaker for the next two years.
Democrats regained the majority in the election this month with a 221-179 edge over Republicans, though recounts could change the split slightly. The Legislature was set to meet Dec. 5 to organize and elect leaders. If House Democrats stick together, their nominee, Norelli, will become speaker.
Norelli and state Rep. David Campbell of Nashua competed among Democrats on Saturday, and the caucus cast a single unanimous ballot at the end for Norelli. Republicans selected former House Speaker Gene Chandler of Bartlett on Thursday to be their leader.
"I ran for speaker because I felt a responsibility to rebuild and restore the Democratic Caucus in order to have a sustainable majority going forward," Norelli said in a statement.
"There is much work to be done to reinstate civility and decorum to the N.H. House," Norelli said. "There will be many opportunities for us to put aside partisanship and work with our colleagues from across the aisle to restore New Hampshire to the community that we all know and love. That is what the voters want us to do."
Norelli, 60, served as speaker for two terms after Democrats took control of the House in 2006 and kept it until the 2010 election, ending a drought dating back to 1922 when the party had last enjoyed a majority in the chamber.
Norelli also serves as the president of the National Conference of State Legislatures. She is entering her ninth two-year term in the House.
Campbell, 55, is an attorney. He is entering his seventh term in the House. A member of the House Public Works and Highways Committee, one of his priorities as a lawmaker has been to adequately fund and maintain the state’s highway system. He supports expanded gambling and gay marriage.
The winner succeeds Mont Vernon Republican Bill O’Brien, who treated Democrats largely as irrelevant because Republicans outnumbered them by a 3-1 margin. He also was a lightning rod for conservative issues ranging from repealing gay marriage to championing a law barring employers from negotiating labor contracts that require workers who don’t want to join a union to pay a share of the union administrative costs, called an agency fee.
O’Brien did not run for House Republican leader Thursday.
In the Nov. 6 election, voters cut the GOP majority in the 24-member Senate to 13. Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, is his caucus’ choice to be elected president Dec. 5 and Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen of Concord is the Democrats’ choice to be minority leader.