NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner re-elected after major challenge

CONCORD, N.H. (WCAX) A historic vote in New Hampshire Wednesday to elect the next secretary of state. Current secretary Bill Gardner is the longest-serving secretary of state in the country. He faced a strong challenge from a fellow Democrat, but Gardner won in the end.

However, it took multiple ballots at the Statehouse in Concord to get a winner in this race. It was a generational battle. Gardner representing the old guard and challenger Colin van Ostern injecting some new ideas into the conversation.

The first vote ended in a virtual tie-- 208-207; 209 votes were needed to win.

On the second ballot, Gardner was the winner.

He spoke to the Legislature shortly after his victory was announced and said he's open to working with the state Legislature's new blood.

"I'd like to ask all of you, particularly the new ones, I'm just down the hall. Come in. I welcome any ideas. Even modern ideas," Gardner said to laughter.

Modernizing the office is something Van Ostern said the state needed. He was also critical of Gardner's support of new voter ID laws in New Hampshire. But after the race, he congratulated Gardner on his victory.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed by the vote but I'm really proud to put the issues in the spotlight. Issues that we really need to fight for like voting rights and helping to support local election officials. It's really important and I'm glad to be a part of it," Van Ostern said.

New Hampshire secretary of state is a high-profile position. The secretary plays a key role in the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Gardner says one of his goals is to keep New Hampshire's primary the first in the country.