Lawmakers re-elect guardian of New Hampshire primary

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire lawmakers have re-elected their veteran secretary of state and guardian of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary in a close vote.

Legislators voted Wednesday to keep Bill Gardner, the nation’s longest-serving secretary of state. He has held the job for 42 years.

Legislators voted twice. Neither candidate won a majority the first time. The final vote was 209-205.

Gardner was criticized for serving on President Donald Trump’s election fraud commission. But his supporters argued that replacing him with fellow Democrat and 2016 gubernatorial nominee Colin Van Ostern would politicize the office and could weaken the state’s argument for staying first.

Van Ostern countered that primary tradition is about more than any one person and that Gardner already politicized the office by backing GOP-led voter legislation to tighten voter registration rules.

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