NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner to leave office

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 2:16 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2022 at 6:17 PM EST
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CONCORD, N.H. (WCAX) - A big departure in the political world-- the man who has overseen the last 12 presidential primaries in New Hampshire is calling it a career.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner on Monday announced he’s stepping down.

It’s the end of an era in New Hampshire. Gardner is the nation’s longest-serving secretary of state.

Gardner was first elected New Hampshire secretary of state in 1976. He was elected to his 23rd two-year term in 2020 with no challengers.

He built a reputation for fiercely defending New Hampshire’s position at the front of the presidential primary calendar.

We don’t know exactly why Gardner is retiring, but Monday Gardner said it is not for health reasons and simply said that now is the right time.

Garnder said the history of the office is what he holds most dearly.

“It’s learning about that history and telling that history and here, it gives you the opportunity to do that and I expect that there is a lot of time that I will be spending at the archives,” Gardner said.

Gardner said New Hampshire’s primary gets stronger every four years because anyone can run for president.

“This is a wide-open opportunity for everyone to come in and have a chance. And as long as we keep that, the tradition will continue,” Gardner said.

In a statement, Gov. Chris Sununu, R-New Hampshire, said Granite Staters owe Gardner a tremendous debt of gratitude.

“For decades, Bill Gardner has fiercely protected New Hampshire’s First in the Nation presidential primary and overseen our elections that are truly a point of pride for our state - always open, fair, accessible, and accurate. We will miss Bill and his vast institutional knowledge of New Hampshire people, politics, and government. Here’s to a well-deserved retirement,” Sununu said.

In recent years, Gardner came under fire from Democrats for his participation in former President Donald Trump’s commission on voter fraud and for backing GOP legislation to tighten voter registration rules.

Deputy Secretary David Scanlan will assume the post after Gardner officially leaves the office. That is expected tot take place in the next couple of days.

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