Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Kimball is running for Chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. Lots of folks are asking: Does tea partier Kimball really have a chance against the establishment candidate Juliana Bergeron, Chair of the Cheshire County GOP?
Tea party candidates faced similar questions across the country throughout the 2010 midterms and they seem to have faced the challenge and come out just fine.
Almost immediately after announcing his candidacy for that post, House Speaker Bill O’Brien and House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt announced their support for the tea party leader. Many of O’Brien’s new House members are constitutionalists and tea partiers. Many of them will also have a vote at the GOP’s annual meeting in January. So, yes –Kimball stands a chance, a good chance, of beating Bergeron.
The real question to ponder is what will happen if (when?) the tea party movement gains control of the state GOP apparatus?
Jack Kimball is an opinionated man, with clear, well-informed points of view about all manner of issues. And he possesses a strong sense of what he believes a Republican should be and do, and what it shouldn’t. The problem he may face, however, is that the bylaws of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee require the Chairman to remain neutral in primaries. And no past state GOP Chairman has used his or her position to whip lawmakers on key legislative fights; even when Republicans had control of the Corner Office. Will Kimball abide by such rules and traditions; or will he seek to reform them?
UPDATE: State Rep. Spec Bowers tells Glenn Reynolds of Pajamas Media that yes, the Tea Party is taking over the NH GOP.