Jim Cole / AP
For the past four decades, the road to the White House has been through Bill Gardner's office of New Hampshire's Foreign Minister.
It is a mandatory stop for Presidential candidates from both parties who, every four years through their lobby, submit their candidacy papers and officially include their name in the election of the first president of the New Hampshire presidential election.
But Gardner, the nation's longest-serving Secretary of State, is at risk of his post as New Hampshire's senior political ambassador and a fierce protector of his place in the presidential candidate's calendar to lose.
After 42 years in office, he faces one of his toughest challenges Democrats, who, in his dwindling dissatisfaction, has tapped his position on electoral reform.
Members of the New Hampshire Civil Code (400 state officials and 24 state senators) will decide Gardner's fate on Wednesday. New Hampshire is one of three states in which the Secretary of State is elected by the legislature of the state – not through a referendum or a nomination by the governor.
This year's election winner is the 70-year-old Gardner against a former governor's candidate who has recently turned his pivot focus on electoral reform, Colin Van Ostern. The race is essentially due to a debate over whether Gardner's reputation for preserving the political traditions of the state outweighs criticism of how well he handles other duties of his office.
"The best way to maintain the basic state for another hundred years is to bring him the new energy and commitment to the other and equally important tasks of this office, such as securing electoral rolls, increasing transparency, the Monitoring corporate services and protecting free and fair elections, "said Van Ostern in his campaign.
Van Ostern, 39, has a background as a political activist and has spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on his campaign to depose the incumbent – leading to concerns that he may be the foreign minister's impartial observer of state elections would undermine. Gardner.
Voter Id Requirements, Trump Voter College
But Gardner has also been confronted in recent years with criticism of his impartiality.
This year's campaign to oust him brings support for Republican-backed electoral reforms after years of deep-seated liberal frustrations over him. Voter identification requirements and stricter residence rules.
Gardner has said he wants to put more people to the polls, but he is skeptical that efforts aimed at achieving the goal will achieve that goal.
"People will do anything if there is something of value," Gardner said in 2015, explaining his philosophy on electoral reform. "People will go to the trouble if it's worth it. If this is not the case, they will not. "
Probably the biggest catalyst behind this year's Gardner Emergency Attempt was his participation in President Trump's" Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity "( Election Commission for Elections).
After assuming a seat on the Trump panel, Gardner, who otherwise enjoyed the support of both parties and had an heir free from much public controversy, stood at unprecedented levels of pushback from critics calling the commission as an attempt to justify the President's unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral fraud
"Secretary Gardner's association with this Partisan Commission risks jeopardizing his long legacy in the struggle for New Hampshire Primary and the electorate's electoral support becomes "Sens." Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen said last year and asked him to step down from the panel. (Both Hassan and Shaheen have refused to support a candidate in this year's Secretary of State election.)
Despite public pressure, Gardner not only defended his role on the jury – he redoubled his commitment and set up his second role meeting in New Hampshire.
"The people of New Hampshire are not accustomed to leaving or ceding their civic duties," Gardner said in his opening speech in this forum, "and I will not."
Stagnating under the weight of mounting lawsuits, the commission abruptly dissolved in early 2018, but questions about its motives continued to follow Gardner's search for re-election. Steve Shurtleff, who is ready to be New Hampshire's next house speaker, said it was a key factor in his decision to support Van Ostern.
"I have tremendous respect for Bill Gardner and his work, but I think it is time for the state of New Hampshire to perhaps make a change," Shurtleff said recently.
But Gardner could rely on the support of other allies who were in the last weeks of the campaign with much influence on the state's political establishment: Political dignitaries organized a gathering of the State House on its behalf, five former governors published an open one Letter urging legislators to give him a new term of office, and party activists of the party membership wrote columns celebrating his track record as head of the New Hampshire Primary. "The highest integrity," wrote Republican National Committee Steve Duprey and the Democratic National Committee Terry Shumaker in the New Hampshire Union Leader . "His impartial approach has brought the highest respect and trust to leaders on the parties here and in other states."
But ultimately, the decision lies with the New Hampshire Legislature Many of the people who choose Gardner's fate do not have the same attachments as well-known politicians and party activists, and can be more sympathetic to arguments that need something new for someone.