In an edition of the New Hampshire Journal podcast to be posted Thursday evening, Republican House Leader Rep. Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) tells NHJournal he is going to run for Speaker of the House when the new Republican majority caucus convenes later this month.
“That is correct,” Hinch said when asked if he planned to seek the GOP’s nomination for Speaker.
The Speaker of the House will be elected on Organization Day, which falls on December 2 this year.
Republicans will unofficially decide on November 20 who will hold the gavel for the next two years. They will choose between Hinch and Republican Floor Leader Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry).
Hinch was re-elected Tuesday to his seventh term in the House, Baldasaro was re-elected to his eighth.
“It’s great to be in a position to have a choice of experienced leaders,” Representative Mike Sylvia (R-Belmont) tells NHJournal, who says he’s undecided. “While candidates for Speaker seldom tip their hand, I will be interested to see what their leadership teams will look like.”
Sylvia won re-election on Tuesday and is co-chair of the House Republican Alliance, a group of legislators that issues voting recommendations on session days and meets to plan for conservative legislative efforts.
Niki Kelsey, an incoming freshman legislator from Bedford, hadn’t considered the race until today.
“I’ve been so focused on my own election,” she says. Kelsey says both Hinch and Baldasaro have approached her about the race, but she has more research to do.
“Dick Hinch started courting my vote months ago,” Kelsey tells NHJournal. “[Representative] Kim Rice called me personally on his behalf, and he has made offers for his help with my race. He’s been very available, especially to new candidates.”
“Al asked me to wait until I heard from him before deciding,” Kelsey says. “I owe it to my constituents to hear them both out and do some thorough research.”
“I think it’s Hinch’s race to lose,” Representative Tim Lang (R-Sanbornton) tells NHJournal, saying if the vote were today, he would vote for Hinch.
“He is the natural person to take it,” Lang says. “He kept everybody together to sustain the vetoes, and he took us from minority to majority.”
“Those two things are pretty hard to argue against,” he added.
Representative Jeanine Notter, a Merrimack Republican heading into her sixth term, supports Hinch fully.
“For the first time in ten years, Hinch united the Republican Party in the House,” Notter tells NHJournal. She says that unity was achieved thanks to the leadership team Hinch assembled for the ’19-’20 session.
“He picked the right kind of people,” she says, “people from all over the board. We had conservatives, moderates, liberty-minded. Everyone had a seat at the table and was part of the team.”
“Al is a wonderful person and one of my dearest friends,” she continued. “He knows I support Dick, and he is totally understanding.” Notter says she believes Hinch is the guy to get some conservative legislative goals accomplished.
Tim Lang doesn’t disagree, but says the most critical function will be scheduling.
“He’ll have to say to the Reps, look, these are the five important days you need to show up, so plan ahead,” says Lang.
In 2017 and 2018, Republicans were in the majority in the House, but failed to get some of Governor Sununu’s agenda across the finish line due to attendance issues.
“Back then, session days were all treated equally. If everything’s special, then nothing is special,” Lang tells NHJournal. “Some session days are special. Whether it’s the tax bill, or the bill to clarify emergency powers, those days are critical. Whoever is Speaker needs to be on top of the calendar and make sure Reps are there for the pivotal days.”
“He’ll have to stay on top of the various Committee Chairmen and ensure the punch-list items are on the floor when he wants them there, and make sure the calendar moves forward,” says Lang. “We can’t have a repeat of the 16-hour marathon due to the Democrat mismanagement, that’s for sure.”