New Hampshire Secretary of State

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Bill Gardner, the longest serving secretary of state in the nation, was elected to his 22nd term today, besting challenger Colin Van Ostern by just four votes.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The new legislature will be sworn in and pick a Secretary of State on Wednesday. Bill Gardner has been Secretary of State for 42 years, and for most of that time his re-election has been inevitable.

Not this year. 

On one side, there’s an ambitious young politician pitching himself as the man to bring overdue reforms to the New Hampshire’s election system; on the other, there’s an elder statesman drawing on deep institutional ties and a long resume in Concord to win over votes.

This might sound a lot like this year’s race for Secretary of State, which pits former gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern against 42-year incumbent Bill Gardner. But it also describes Gardner’s first campaign for Secretary of Stateback in 1976.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

Wednesday is the day lawmakers will pick New Hampshire’s next Secretary of State, and both candidates—42-year incumbent Bill Gardner and his challenger, former executive councilor Colin Van Ostern—are hustling for support.