Reps. Silva, Stepanek picked for House GOP leadership positions
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
CONCORD – Two Nashua area House members moved up Tuesday in the wake of the sudden resignation of House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, who stepped down after fallout from a scandal over his law school internship.
House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, picked Rep. Peter Silva, R-Nashua, to replace Bettencourt as majority leader; Rep. Steve Stepanek, R-Amherst, became deputy majority leader.
Meanwhile, a third area House member moves laterally.
Longtime Rep. Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, had been serving as Bettencourt’s deputy majority leader.
O’Brien named him to take Silva’s old job, House majority whip. The majority whip’s principal job is to rally the House Republican vote for the GOP agenda on the House floor.
Silva, 52, is completing his second, two-year term in the House.
“It is an unfortunate situation,” Silva told reporters, speaking about Bettencourt. “When families go through tragedy, they get tougher.”
Stepanek also remains as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which takes up all legislation dealing with taxes and fees.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge and helping us get to the finish line as winners,” Stepanek said.
O’Brien said having Silva and Stepanek step in speaks to the “depth of talent” House Republicans have in their caucus.
The primary task for both men is to help O’Brien close out the remaining work of the 2012 session, which is the 60 or so bills that are being worked on by House and Senate negotiators this week.
O’Brien expects the House will meet for the final time of 2012 on June 6, except for another session later this year to take up expected vetoes from Gov. John Lynch.
Silva has in the past served as chairman of the Nashua delegation in the House and this year also served on the House Judiciary Committee.
Many Nashua Republicans praise Silva as an able political organizer. Silva encouraged both Nashua Republican Gary Lambert and Hollis Republican Jim Lambert to run for seats in the state Senate in 2010, which they both won.
During the 2012 presidential primary campaign, Silva was one of the most prominent Republicans to come out in support of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s candidacy.
O’Brien credits Silva with providing a strong connection with the large group of House Republicans elected for the first time in 2010.
“As majority leader, my focus will be on ensuring that House Republicans keep our promises to protect and rebuild New Hampshire’s low-tax, limited-government environment so that we can bring more good, new jobs here and make our state the clear choice for individuals and businesses,” Silva said.
Stepanek has served as both a personal friend, fundraiser and early supporter of O’Brien’s meteoric rise to power.
He served as treasurer for O’Brien’s campaign for speaker in 2010.
Stepanek has since held the books for the Committee to Elect House Republicans, which has reportedly raised significant money to help preserve the GOP majority in the 2012 elections.
O’Brien relied upon Stepanek in early 2011 to come up with conservative estimates for state revenue to build a two-year state budget.
Those revenue figures helped O’Brien win overwhelming Republican support for the two-year budget that cut overall spending by more than 11 percent.
Both Silva and Stepanek have been in the middle of some controversy while serving in the House.
Stepanek was arrested for drunken driving soon after he won back his House seat in November 2010.
He pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the arrest and for a period lost his driver’s license.
Silva is by profession a manufacturer’s rep for medical device-making companies.
While not an author of the bill, Silva has been a vocal supporter for still-pending legislation that would ban physicians from being able to refer their patients to use devices if the physician has an ownership interest.
Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or email@example.com. Also check out Kevin (@KLandrigan) on Twitter.
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