Secretary of State New Hampshire

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, center, announces he will step down from office during a news conference, Monday Jan. 3, 2022 at the Statehouse in Concord, N.H. Gardner is the nation's longest-serving secretary of state. From left are Senior Deputy Sect. of State Robert Ambrose, Gardner and Deputy Sect. of State David Scanlan. 

(The Center Square) – New Hampshire has a new secretary of state for the first time in decades, as David Scanlan takes over the reins from his longtime predecessor. 

Scanlan, 65, was sworn into office on Tuesday by House Speaker Sherman Packard at the Statehouse in Concord to fill a vacancy left by veteran Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who is stepping down after a 45 year tenure. 

"We're just going to continue to do what we've been doing and stick to the basics and make sure we serve the citizens of New Hampshire as best we can," Scanlan told reporters.

Gardner, a Democrat, shocked the state's political establishment last week by announcing that he won't be seeking another two-year term in the November elections. He leaves the office as the longest serving secretary of state in the nation. 

Scanlan, a Republican who has served under Gardner as deputy secretary of state for nearly two decades, was tapped by his predecessor to replace him. 

Besides running federal and state elections, the secretary of state oversees the state archives, the lobbyist division, and the state’s public records. The office also oversees the securities divisions, which has the power to investigate fraud. The job pays more than $131,000 a year with benefits. 

Some Democratic lawmakers had questioned whether Scanlan could be named as Gardner's replacement under the state constitution. 

But Attorney General John Formella's office produced a legal memo sent to Gardner affirming that he had the authority to appoint an "acting secretary" to take over his responsibilities.

"In short, the deputy becomes acting secretary, assumes all powers and duties of the office secretary of state, and as such operates in a manner indistinguishable from the secretary appointed/elected by the legislature," Formella wrote in the legal opinion. "The acting secretary holds all powers and duties of the office until his or her election by the legislature or the election of a new secretary." 

During Tuesday's swearing in, Scanlan told reporters that he planned to run for a full term in the November elections.