For the second time in two weeks there is a large shake-up in New Hampshire politics, as Republican Governor Chris Sununu announced Thursday that he wants House Speaker Shawn Jasper to serve as the state’s agriculture commissioner.
Jasper, a Republican from Hudson, has had a rocky tenure in his three years as speaker. In 2014 he won the top post in the House, even though he didn’t have the support of a majority of Republicans; conservatives have sought to undermine him ever since. Jasper’s leaving the Legislature removes a political problem for the Republican Party and for Sununu, who most recently clashed with Jasper over a high-profile kindergarten law.
Last week, New Hampshire US Representative Carol Shea-Porter announced without warning that she would not seek re-election in 2018.
Technically Jasper will need to be recommended by a 15-person commission before Sununu can formally nominate him to the job. That said, Republicans control the five-member council which votes on Sununu’s nominations. While Jasper said he won’t resign his title until he is officially confirmed, his office has already scheduled elections for a new House speaker in late November.
Moments after Sununu’s office sent out a press release, a number of Republican state representatives said they were looking into running for speaker, setting up a six-week scramble for one of the most important positions in Granite State politics.James Pindell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics:http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp