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November 17. 2012 7:43PM

Norelli nominated for Speaker post


Terie Norelli 

CONCORD - Former House Speaker Terie Norelli is in line to regain the position after a House Democratic caucus nominated her for the job on Saturday.

"I look forward to moving forward, to working not only with the Democratic caucus, also the Republican caucus, with Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, and with our wonderful new governor to try to do the best that we can for the people of this state,'' she said after the caucus ended.

Democratic members voted 131 to 73 to nominate Norelli during the closed-door session Saturday morning at the State House.

Norelli, D-Portsmouth, was House speaker from 2006 to 2010, when Republicans took control of the House and selected William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, as speaker.

She served as minority leader for the last two years.

Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, announced in June he would run for the speaker position and advocated a platform of moderation.

Campbell, who was elected to his seventh term in the House this month, said he was disappointed in the result but will respect it.

"Any time you put your heart and soul into something for several months and you lose, you're disappointed,'' he said.

He said he will not attempt to win Republican support to attempt to win the speaker role. He did not mention whether he thought his supporters would back Norelli

"I'm happy to support Terie Norelli as the next speaker of the House, that's all I'm going to say on that," he said.

He said he believes the Democratic Party is "best-positioned to stop these wild electoral swings, which clearly show the voters are not happy with the political party in power.''

"People want a state government that works. They want the partisanship to go away,'' he said.

State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said he believes Norelli's selection was a reflection of her ability to unite the Democratic caucus.

"The vote was decisive, and she should take it as a vote of confidence in her leadership,'' Buckley said.

Norelli said she plans to resurrect many of the "positive'' attributes she said she brought to the speaker role during her previous term, including holding regular meetings with Democratic and Republican leaders as well as keeping an open door and offering continuing education for freshmen House members on the legislative process.

"We have an incredibly large freshmen class,'' she said.

She said she is sure the issue of expanded gambling and casino gambling will come up in the next two years.

She said she is "neutral'' on the issue and plans to support whatever position the House votes to take.

"Gambling has never been a partisan issue. Both caucuses have been split,'' she said. "We will have thorough, complete, thoughtful, evidence-based debate about that issue.''

Rep. Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, was selected last week in a House Republican caucus as minority leader. He said he would be willing to work with whomever Democrats choose as speaker.

"I worked with both of them before and am willing to do what I can to work with them again,'' he said Friday.

Chandler said there will be occasions when Republicans will disagree with their Democratic counterparts, likely during budget discussions.

"The one thing that we'll do the best we can (is to) draw a line in the sand on revenue estimates. We must, in our opinion, have our own Republican revenue estimates, and we need to make sure they're legitimate and reasonable,'' he said.

Chandler said he didn't know whether the upcoming session - during which Democrats will control the governor's office, Executive Council and House while Republicans retain a narrow majority in the Senate - will see more compromise.

"We'll just have to see how it plays out. It's a little bit of a different dynamic" compared with the latest political makeup of the House and Senate, Chandler said. "It will be interesting to see how it plays out as we go through the whole process."

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Tim Buckland may be reached at tbuckland@unionleader.com.


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