New Hampshire Secretary of State, Longest Serving in U.S., Is Retiring

Monthly bill Gardner, who for many years as secretary of state has fiercely defended New Hampshire’s ideal to keep the country’s 1st presidential primaries, reported on Monday that he would phase down just after 45 years.

Mr. Gardner, a Democrat initial elected in 1976, had mainly relished bipartisan aid, even as the position of secretary of condition — each and every state’s major elections administrator — has become extra political, a nationwide trend accelerated by former President Donald J. Trump’s fake claims of widespread voting fraud.

Mr. Gardner, 73, claimed political good reasons did not force his choice, nor was his well being a issue, although he reflected in the course of a information convention in the Statehouse in Harmony on staying the longest-serving secretary of state in the state — a single of only 4 New Hampshirites to hold the position considering the fact that 1929.

“The two earlier secretaries of condition died in place of work,’’ he reported. “I thought about that. Was I heading to be one particular like that?”

Requested about the potential of New Hampshire’s presidential primaries, which just about every four years convey a wave of nationwide attention, dollars and visitors, Mr. Gardner predicted other states may possibly attempt to bounce the line, but said the Granite Condition would continue on to be first.

“There will be challenges,’’ he said. “They’ll uncover new ways to attempt it. But it really should be Okay.”

Between some Democrats, in particular, there is a motivation to dethrone New Hampshire from its key electoral location, as properly as Iowa with its previously caucuses, simply because both of those states are whiter, more mature and much more rural than the region as a full.

An enduring impediment is New Hampshire state law, which involves its main to be held right before any comparable contest. Mr. Gardner, who held the sole electricity to set the most important date, experienced reported that if a further condition tried out to get ahead, he would only move up New Hampshire’s date into December or even November.

Mr. Gardner escaped Mr. Trump’s marketing campaign of own insults and strain in 2020, aimed at other election officials in battleground states that President Biden received, probably mainly because the race in New Hampshire was not specifically close.

However, soon after Mr. Trump created the baseless assert in 2016 that “millions” of unlawful votes experienced been cast by noncitizens throughout the state, Mr. Gardner agreed to be a part of a fee that Mr. Trump established up to look into. His final decision to be part of the commission, even immediately after Mr. Trump falsely claimed that he experienced won New Hampshire, was sharply criticized by some of his fellow Democrats. The fee disbanded just after many states refused to cooperate with what they deemed to be intrusive requests for voters’ information and facts.

Mr. Gardner defended the commission at the time, and his position on it, saying he had hoped the “facts would conclude up talking for themselves” about the absence of fraud. On Monday, he reiterated his belief that the commission was intended to restore Americans’ eroding believe in in election success.

But at the time, Democrats’ disappointment above his job led to the most major challenge that he confronted for re-election, in 2018, when a further Democrat, Colin Van Ostern, approximately unseated Mr. Gardner.

New Hampshire’s secretary of state is elected each two years by the membership of the condition legislature. Mr. Gardner’s present deputy, David Scanlan, will consider more than this week right until the legislature retains its future election.

On Monday, praise for Mr. Gardner came from leaders of each functions.

“Secretary Gardner has fiercely defended our key in excess of the a long time, making sure that Granite Staters perform a important part in our country’s political elections,’’ Donna Soucy, the Democratic leader of the State Senate, explained in a assertion.

Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, reported that New Hampshirites “owe a incredible personal debt of gratitude” to Mr. Gardner’s administration of elections that have been “always open, honest, obtainable and correct.”

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