Welcome to the latest edition of THE 603.

For more than 40 years, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has been a crucial player in presidential politics. Known nationally as one of the chief guardians of his state’s treasured status holding the nation’s first presidential primary, Gardner’s also the longest-serving secretary of state in the country. But now Gardner’s fighting to keep his job, and his moment of truth comes next week.

Granite Staters who knew him well, remember President George H.W. Bush.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a rising progressive star in the Democratic Party and a potential presidential contender, returns to the first-in-the-nation primary state this weekend. 

Beto mania catches on among some activists in New Hampshire.

And Gov. Chris Sununu tangles with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen over an initial move by the Trump administration to likely greenlight offshore drilling.

Enough small talk. Let’s bring it on.

Role on Trump’s voter fraud commission could help sink nation’s longest-serving secretary of state
Thanks in part to his participation last year in President Trump’s now-disbanded voter fraud commission, Bill Gardner is facing his most difficult re-election in decades – as he runs for a 22nd two-year term as New Hampshire’s top election official. 
Fox News

Bill Gardner is hinting that if he’s re-elected next week as New Hampshire’s secretary of state – it will likely be his swan song. 
Concord Monitor
In the race for NH Secretary of State: Bill Gardner appears to have second thoughts about his participation last year on President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission. SeacoastOnline
Five former NH governors back Gardner’s bid for re-election. Concord Monitor
Fellow Democrat Colin Van Ostern, born about two years after Gardner took office, is challenging the 70-year-old incumbent on a platform of modernizing the office, holding it accountable and resisting what he views as attempts at voter suppression. Associated Press
Follow the money but Van Ostern allies deny any connection. Union Leader
WATCH: Gardner hints if re-elected, this could be his swan song as NH secretary of state
WATCH: Van Ostern says the fate of NH’s treasured first-in-the-nation presidential primary status doesn’t hinge on one man.

Remembering George H.W. Bush
Starting with his first campaign for the White House in the 1980 cycle, George H.W. Bush logged a lot of miles in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state. He lost the primary that year to Ronald Reagan, but eight years later the then-sitting vice president topped Bob Dole in New Hampshire. Granite Staters who worked for Bush on his campaigns and in the White House remember the 41st president of the United States. 

Courting of influential NH Democratic lawmakers and rainmakers underway
It may not be outwardly visible, but behind the scenes, the 2020 race for the White House is definitely underway in New Hampshire, the state that for a century has held the first presidential primary. Potential Democratic presidential contenders are busy putting plans in place to launch likely White House campaigns. They’re also quietly courting Granite State Democratic lawmakers and rainmakers. 
Concord Monitor

Aloha, New Hampshire
Tulsi Gabbard – who was re-elected earlier this month to a fourth term in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, is considered a potential Democratic presidential contender. The 37-year old Iraq War veteran and progressive lawmaker returns to New Hampshire this weekend for her second trip to the Granite State this autumn. 
Concord Monitor WMUR

Desperately Seeking Beto
Concord based attorney and Democratic activist Jay Surdukowski has been making a full court press for over three weeks on 
Twitter to try and entice outgoing Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke to visit New Hampshire. O’Rourke, who came extremely close to knocking off Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the midterms and who has become a rock star among some Democratic activists, is now mulling a possible White House bid. Surdukowski’s persistence is attracting attention, as Politico and CNBC reported on his efforts in recent days.

Steyer stopping by next month
Billionaire environmentalist and progressive activist Tom Steyer, who made two stops in New Hampshire this summer, is returning in January, during his upcoming town hall tour to promote his Democratic platform.
“New Hampshire is an important stop because so much of the conversation pertaining to both the future of the Democratic Party and the future of our country is happening there,” Steyer spokeswoman Aleigha Cavalier said.
Steyer, who founded the influential organization NextGen America, has also been a leader in the movement to impeach President Donald Trump. Last year he launched the group Need to Impeach.

NH’s House Delegation (all two of them) back Pelosi for Speaker
After saying they were undecided for months, both Congresswoman Annie Kuster and Congressman-elect Chris Pappas announce their support for Pelosi in the two days leading up to the Democratic House caucus vote 
Concord Monitor  WMUR 
Democratic Congressman-elect Chris Pappas hopes to serve on two committees crucial to New Hampshire’s First District - the House Armed Services and Transportation and Infrastructure committees. His support this past week for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker may help him land on those two panels. SeacoastOnline 

Sununu targets Shaheen after she slams Trump administration over offshore drilling move
An initial move by the Trump administration to potentially greenlight offshore drilling sparked some tough language from both Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. But while Shaheen’s critical comments were directed at the GOP administration, Sununu’s office took aim at New Hampshire’s senior senator while spotlighting the governor’s close relationship with the Trump White House. Could this be a taste of things to come as when the 2020 U.S. Senate race in the Granite State heats up? 
Concord Monitor 
Leading Trump supporter in NH likely to become next state GOP chair
Steve Stepanek, who co-chaired Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in New Hampshire, will most likely take over the helm at the much beleaguered state party come January. 
Concord Monitor WMUR 

The case of the missing ballot box 
There weren’t any hanging chads, but there was some drama at the recent recount of the New Hampshire Senate District 23 battle between incumbent GOP Sen. Bill Gannon and Democratic challenger Jon Morgan. 
Thanks as always for sharing with friends and colleagues, please point anyone and everyone to sign up 
here. That's all we've got, have a great weekend and wherever you are, a wonderful Thanksgiving too; you can follow Paul Steinhauser, NH's most versatile political news reporter, here, and contact THE 603 co-founder & publisher, Kieran Baker, here.  

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