Secretary of State Bill Gardner has had a decadeslong run as the legendary, hard-nosed guardian of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. But he may not make it through the Trump era. Gardner, a fixture in presidential politics after more than 40 years in office, may be on the verge of a bitter ouster from his job after supporting stricter voter eligibility requirements and participating in President Donald Trump’s ill-fated voter fraud commission. Though he has traditionally garnered support from both Republicans and Democrats — the Legislature selects the state’s secretary of state every two years — New Hampshire House Democrats overwhelmingly threw their support to a rival Democrat, Colin Van Ostern, in a preliminary caucus vote recently.
Now, Gardner is fighting for his survival. Lawmakers are expected to vote Dec. 5 on Gardner’s fate, a month after Democrats won control of both houses of the state Legislature.
“There’s drama here,” said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party who said he is neutral in the race. The result in the Democratic Caucus “was stunning to a lot of people … One of the great ironies is backlash against President Trump is likely to cost Bill Gardner his job. Talk about a ricochet shot.”