Democrats claimed control of the New Hampshire House in Tuesday’s election, ending the controversial reign of Speaker William O’Brien.
O’Brien is heading to the back bench as a member of the Republican minority.
House Democratic leader Terie Norelli said yesterday preliminary results showed Democrats holding a 217-177 majority, with six races in doubt.
Norelli said Democrats listened to voters, including Republicans and independents.
“They told us they wanted the Legislature to put partisan politics aside and work on the issues that mattered to Granite Staters, in a civilized way,” Norelli said.
O’Brien won’t serve in GOP leadership, but will stay in the Legislature. He will refocus on his law practice.
“We are a citizen Legislature and every representative balances the responsibility of serving the people with his or her professional and civic duties,” O’Brien said.
Republicans held a 13-11 majority in the Senate. Democrats control the Executive Council, which acts on state contracts and Gov.-elect Hassan’s nominees for state posts, 3-2.
But most of the political talk yesterday was over the stunning House reversal of two years ago, the fate of O’Brien and the succession game to come in House leadership.
Norelli and Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, have previously announced a desire to serve as speaker.
Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, and Rep. David Kidder, R-New London, acknowledged yesterday they would have an interest in the GOP leader post.
“You’re going to get fresh faces with new ideas,” predicted David Lang, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.
“I think the voters in New Hampshire – in one of the largest turnouts we’ve seen – said it was time to change direction,” Lang said.
The number of Free Staters, Tea Party and Libertarian leaning lawmakers was reduced and issues such as the state pension system will get a new look, Lang said.