Sanborn withdrawal from NH Speaker’s race leaves 70-plus backers as ‘free agents,’ her camp says
CONCORD – A dramatic twist in the GOP race for New Hampshire House Speaker came today when Rep. Laurie Sanborn of Bedford dropped out, leaving former speakers Gene Chandler and Bill O’Brien as the candidates for the powerful post as the top leader soon-to-be Republican-controlled chamber.
The Sanborn camp told the New Hampshire Journal it believes Sanborn had more than 70 supporters who are now free agents in the race to lead the Republicans majority, and ultimately, the full House – a race that will be unofficially decided next Tuesday at a GOP caucus. A final vote will come in the full House on Organization Day, Dec. 3.
Other Republicans however, insist that is an overblown estimate and contend the number is closer to 30. No one knows for certain, as many lawmakers play their proverbial cards close to the vest in such races. But her departure can be expected to influence the outcome.
As of Thursday evening, Laurie Sanborn did not intend to make an endorsement in the race between O’Brien and Chandler, her camp says. Still, sources also say that some of her top supporters are strongly considering moving to the O’Brien camp.
That also remains to be seen.
Sanborn cited the health of her husband, state Sen. Andy Sanborn, who was hospitalized for more than a week.
In a statement, Sanborn said:
“As many of you know, my husband Andy became ill last week and spent time in the hospital. While the long term prognosis looks good, today there is sufficient uncertainty. At this time, my priority is Andy’s health.
“As such, I recognize that today I cannot give 100 percent to the role of Speaker, as family always comes first. Therefore, I am withdrawing from the Speaker’s race to focus on family and the job of State Representative.
“I want to thank everyone for their support, hard work and friendship along the way. Andy and I look forward to a great Session and the opportunity to make New Hampshire the best state to live, learn, work and play.”
Sanborn’s announcement came as a high-powered group of Republicans, headed by Sen. Kelly Ayotte and former state GOP chair and former Gov. John Sununu, issued a letter endorsing Chandler and former state GOP chair and Tea Party/liberty movement leader Jack Kimball backed O’Brien.
O’Brien also was backed today the New Hampshire Republican Volunteer Coalition and New Hampshire Conservative Majority Project, according to the groups’ chairman, Kevin McHugh.