January 23, 2011

Kimball claims NH GOP chair

Former Gov. John H. Sununu, left, introduces the two candidates vying to replace him as state GOP chairman, Juliana Bergeron, center, and Jack Kimball, who went on to win Saturday by a vote of 222 to 199. 
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- New Hampshire’s Republican Party is officially steeped in Tea Party idealism, with the election of Jack Kimball — a founding father of the N.H. Tea Party Coalition — as party chairman Saturday.
Kimball narrowly beat his opponent, Juliana Bergeron, by a vote of 222 to 199.
“You all know that we are in a war, and we are going to win it. We are going to pull ourselves back from the brink, we’re going to go after the Democrats the entire time,” Kimball said to a boisterous crowd inside the Stockbridge Theatre.
Outgoing Chairman John H. Sununu, who publicly endorsed Bergeron for the post prior to Saturday’s election, wished Kimball well and urged party unity as he announced Kimball’s victory.
“We all have to be united behind him,this is a united party, it is a Republican Party, you have a new chairman, and we’re going to do the right thing,” Sununu said. 

Kimball built momentum in recent months as a voice for the N.H. Tea Party faithful. His campaign for the chairmanship followed his strong secondplace showing in the 2010 GOP primary behind John Stephen. 
After the vote, Bergeron, of Keene, made her way toward the exit, accepting handshakes, hugs and condolences from supporters along the way. 
“I’m disappointed,” said Bergeron, containing her emotions. “We need a united party, and so I hope Jack means what he’s saying.” 
In an impassioned pre-election speech to the 421 voting state committee members and public “guests” present, Sununu reflected on the hard work that has gone into rebuilding the Republican Party from the inside out over the past two years. 
“Running a state committee today is a difficult, difficult process. (The Executive Board) ... soon began to understand the art form of annunciating strong, clear, unequivocal conservative Republican messages in a way that we were attractive to Republicans that had walked away from the party, were attractive for independents for whom not only substance but style was important, and to rebuild a coalition that produced a huge majority in the November 2010 elections,” Sununu said. 
“That process was not an accident. And that process is not done trivially. And that process is not performed by being bold and brash; it’s done by paying attention to details, to the blocking and tackling, to the forming of town committees, to the rebuilding of the strength in the county committees and empowering each and every one of you to know what the conservative message is,” Sununu said. 
Bergeron, who serves as chairman of the Cheshire County Republican Committee, was endorsed by Sununu for what he saw as her strength as a fiscal and social conservative as well as her ability to unify the party. He also said he respected her ability to rally Republicans in a notoriously liberal stronghold and successfully raise money for the party in a tough economic climate. 
Kimball, of Dover, is a relative newcomer to the New Hampshire political scene. He is an entrepreneur who launched a one-man Portsmouth-based industrial cleaning business that 12 years later has grown to include 40 employees. He ran as one of four GOP candidates in the Republican primary and walked away right behind Stephen with 25 percent of the vote, underscoring the influence of the Tea Party movement on traditional GOP politics. 
Kimball campaigned as an alternative to the “old, staid Republicanism of the past” and pledged to uphold the vitality “of the new Republican ethos and energy.” As party chairman, Kimball said, he will make good on that pledge. 
“This party has to stay united — that is the message I’m going to push. We have a lot of new folks in the party, as well as those who’ve been absent for a while, and longtime Republican activists — they have to mesh and blend and work together like a well-oiled machine,” Kimball said. 
Kerry Marsh, chairman of the N.H. Young Republicans, said her hope is that communication within the party — established by working closely with Sununu as party chair — will continue under Kimball. 
“We are the next generation of the party, and so we want to become a better source of candidates in the future,” Marsh said. “Out of 38 candidates, we had 24 elected, so we’re off to a good start.” 
An early endorser of Kimball, House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, said Saturday that he was obviously happy about the outcome of the race. 
“I’m confident about Jack’s ability to lead and to unite the party,” Bettencourt said. 
Another happy conservative is Gary Brown of Raymond. Although he was not a voting member, he came to see democracy in action. 
“I was here simply as a citizen,” said Brown. “I was a Republican back in the old days, and now I’m back as a Tea Party member and a member of 9/12. I came to be part of the peanut gallery, but you can see I didn’t really need to be here. The citizenry and constitutional conservatives have risen up. It’s a new day.” 
Capping off the daylong meeting was the announcement of results of a WMUR-ABC News straw poll taken throughout the event. The poll put 21 names of potential 2012 presidential candidates before the voters. 
With 273 votes cast, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came out on top, with 35 percent, followed by Ron Paul, with 11 percent; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, 8 percent; former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, 7 percent; and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, 5 percent each. 
Also of note: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former N.H. Sen. Judd Gregg each got 2 percent of the vote. Donald Trump received 1 percent. 

No comments:

Post a Comment