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Democrat Melanie Levesque, a former state senator from Nashua, said she was running for the position, which David Scanlan took up in January when longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner retired.

New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan attends a press conference on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at the Statehouse in Concord, NH AP photo/Kathy McCormack, file

CONCORD, NH (AP) — New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan will face his first election next month and his first challenger.

Democrat Melanie Levesque, a former state senator from Nashua, said Thursday she was running for the position that Scanlan took up in January when longtime secretary of state Bill Gardner has retired. The legislature will select the winner on December 7.

“It’s no secret. Over the past decade in New Hampshire, our sacred right – the right to vote – has been under att*ck,” she said in a statement. “I am proud to be running for secretary of state to protect our constituents from these att*cks and to make critical reforms to this office to better serve the Granite Staters.”

Scanlan, a Republican and former MP who served as deputy secretary of state for 20 years, said on Friday that he had built an “incredible cross-party team” over the last 10 months.

“We have a long and significant list of achievements and improvements during this period, culminating in a smooth and successful midterm election that had a record turnout,” he said in an email. “I will break this record every day of the week!”

Levesque previously served three terms in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate, where she was chair of the Senate Electoral Law Committee before being ousted by Republican Kevin Avard in 2020. This year, she tried to come back, but was again defeated by Avard.

Republicans retained control of the 24-member Senate this month, but the balance of power in the 400-member House remains unknown, with many pending recalculations. Also unknown is the fate of New Hampshire’s first presidential primaries, which were fiercely defended for decades by Gardner, first elected in 1976.

State law requires that state primaries be held at least seven days before any similar contest, and gives the secretary of state sole authority to set the date. But the Democratic National Committee wants to shake up the nomination calendar to better reflect the party’s diverse constituency. Its rule-making arm planned to issue recommendations in August, but delayed the decision until the election this month.

Gardner, the country’s longest-serving secretary of state, had little to no competition for his job, aside from 2018 when he defeated former gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern by just four votes. But in recent years, he has come under fire from fellow Democrats for his involvement in former President Donald Trump’s committee on

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