In June of 2009 I spent two hours with Bill Gardner the Secretary of State of New Hampshire. He is in the blue shirt on the left, I'm in the middle and Peter Hildreth, Comish of Banking for New Hampshire and a long-time friend of Gardners when they served in the Hew Hampshire House is on the right. Peter, a very smart observer of New Hampshire government and politics, kindly arranged for the meeting.
Remember that Secretary of State is - SOS, the long time distress call of mariners!
In the case of Gardner nothing could be more apt. He's the one we call to fix primary politics every four years when it's about to go off the rail!
Brian Mooney of the Boston Globe wrote that "William M. Gardner may be the single most powerful man in the nation when it comes to setting the schedule of contests that will nominate the presidential candidates of both parties next year. But you'd never know it to drop by his office on the second floor of the venerable granite State House." (July 9, 2007)
I could not have put it better myself.
His office is small, cluttered, cozy, and totally unpretentious. So is Gardner - I mean, only the unpretentious part because he is well groomed, fit, and tall!
Gardner is a remarkable man who sets aside his own political views, loyalties, and ambitions and serves the cause of having New Hampshire give every little guy or gal the chance to run for President of the United States. l
You fill ot a form in a very dignified way in the SOS's office in Concord at a special table, pay your $1,000 fee and you are now officially a candidate for President of the United States in the primary of the State of New Hampshire. Garder even has a glass covered framed exhibit of the lesser candidates right next to a vertible Louvre of the "major", big shot candidates who have run for President over the years in the Granite State primary.
And oh the stories I could tell you about snafus, glitches, arrogance, courtesies, and all manner of behavior from the distinguished folks who want to lead the republic! But I can't and won't because Gardner is a real gentleman who would never embarrass anyone in public. A man who truly believes that a primary in a small and attentive state and well as the more cumbersome but fascinating presidential First in the Nation Iowa Caucuses afford evey candidate and the voters and media of the United States a valuable opportunity to be heard and seen.
I imagine that Garder would be the kind of lawyer who would never lose a case. He is tenacious, a true believer in the New Hampshire process, and very well prepared. He is soft spoken but has an intensity i have rarely seen in a person. When we spoke (I should say when he told the riveting stories of the battles to keep the process of Iowa first and New Hampshire first too - caucuses and primary) his eyes sparkled. He remembered every name, phone call, reporter, columns they had written andn what they said, every return phone call, waiting game, abd strategic move anyone had made.
Gardner is the steward of the US presidential selection process and when we see how crucial the state has been ion the past in shaping the campaign to follow, it is no woder that Garnder has been reappointed SOS in New Hampshire by Democrats as well as republicans.
Talk about Mr. Bi-partisan or nonpartisan! Others could learn a great deal about this from Bill Gardner.