Granite Reports: Former NHGOP Chair Jack Kimball endorses Karen Testerman for US Senate

WEDNESDAY, MAY 14: KIMBALL BACKS KAREN. Former NHGOP chair, 2010 candidate for governor and state liberty movement leader Jack Kimball told us back in February that he is “on Karen Testerman’s team,” and “that is where I’m going to stay.”

His disclosure came after he received a call from Scott Brown, who was then calling party leaders as he considered running for the Senate.

But now it’s official: Kimball this morning formally announced he is endorsing Senate candidate and longtime fellow conservative activist Testerman.

In a statement, Kimball said:

“At a time when our nation is thirsting for conservative candidates that will stand on principle, we now have a great candidate for U.S. Senate.”

He said Testerman is “rock solid on all the things that matter, and she will not waiver when she gets to Washington.  Her desire to restore our republic is at the forefront of her campaign.  She is a firm believer in Small Government and Free Markets.  She realizes that our Constitution is under attack and must be defended.

“ She knows that if we lose the 2nd Amendment, the others will also fall. Karen will fight for the rights of the unborn and will also lead in the fight to stop the dismantling of our Military.  Integrity matters, and in Karen, you have someone who you can trust to keep her word.”

Calling Kimball a “prominent patriot,” Testerman said she was “honored and delighted.”

(Earlier Granite Reports follow.)

SATURDAY, MAY 10: SMITH: BROWN WILL LOSE TO SHAHEEN. Former Sen. Bob Smith said this week that if Scott Brown is the nominee of the Republican Party for the U.S. Senate, not only will he lose to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in November, but “they (the GOP) will deserve to lose.”

Smith said the former Massachusetts senator “does not represent a bright line of distinction between who we are and who they (the Democrats) are.”

Smith confirmed to Granite Reports he first made the explosive comment during a “very animated” conversation last Saturday with former Manchester Republican Party Chair Gerry Thibodeau, a Brown supporter, during a Friends of the NRA Dinner at Waterville Valley.

The Thibodeau-Smith exchange at the NRA dinner has become the behind-the-scenes talk of the Republican Party this week.

Thibodeau, now of Rumney, campaigned for Smith back in the 1990s when Smith was campaigning for and serving in the Senate. But now Thibodeau is backing Brown in the GOP Senate primary.

It’s well-known how Smith feels about Brown and his Second Amendment credentials (or lack thereof, depending on your point of view.) And it’s well-known Smith believes the NHGOP establishment is in Brown’s corner in the primary.

One thing Smith and Thibodeau agree on: They got into a heated discussion at the dinner in the presence of several other pro-gun Republicans.

Thibodeau said he joined a conversation Smith was having with a third person and mentioned to Smith that he backed him years ago. According to Thibodeau, Smith asked why he’s now backing Brown.

Thibodeau said he told Smith it was partly because he didn’t “appreciate the way you treated the Republican Party” after Smith left the party briefly back in 1999.

According to Thibodeau, another person in the conversation then said Smith “is the right one for the Senate, and if he didn’t get the nomination, she was staying home” on general election day.

Thibodeau recalls telling the woman that staying home would be a vote for Shaheen.

“Then Bob said that if he didn’t get nomination, everyone should stay home because ‘you all deserve Jeanne Shaheen.’

“I was flabbergasted at that,” Thibodeau said, “and I said I didn’t think that would be good for the party.

“That’s when Bob gave me his thoughts about the party. Expletive deleted.”

”I was just grossly disappointed to hear him say that and I really wish I hadn’t been standing there,” said Thibodeau.

Smith flatly denied using an expletive in the conversation.

But, “I did tell him that I didn’t understand why he was at an NRA dinner,” Smith told Granite Reports. “Scott Brown has been supported by Michael Bloomberg, who has spent $50 million trying to break up the NRA.

“I told him I didn’t understand why a guy like him would support Brown, who opposed reciprocity and has had a bad record with guns.”

Smith did recall someone else in the conversation saying that if Brown is the nominee, she would vote for Shaheen or stay home.

“I said that if Scott Brown is the nominee and if they (the GOP) lose, they deserve to lose because he does not represent a bright line of distinction between who we are and who they (Democrats) are,” Smith said. “And I do believe that if Brown is the nominee of the party, because he doesn’t represent the party, he will lose.

“But no, I did not use any expletives about the party,” Smith said

Smith acknowledged being “very animated about (Thibodeau’s) his involvement with Brown. “I asked him to name one issue where he and Scott Brown agree. I think it was awkward for him.”

Smith then went on in the interview to express frustration about what he views as the state GOP and national Republicans backing Brown.

He noted that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is endorsing Brown, came to the state Friday for party events.

“He’s the keynote speaker. He’s endorsing Brown. We all know what’s going on,” Smith said. “He’s like, ‘I’m Mr. Conservative. I’m going to run for President. I’m endorsing Scott Brown.’ Are you kidding me?

“Are there issues between the party and Smith?” Smith asked, referring to himself in the third person. “Of course there are.

“But it’s not just me, it’s (candidate for governor Andrew) Hemingway, too.” Conservative Hemingway is in a primary against retired executive Walt Havenstein.

“It’s the establishment versus the conservatives. That’s the way it is,” said Smith. “But we’re going to take the fight to them.

“It was an animated discussion (with Thibodeau), no doubt,” said Smith. “But I didn’t think it was an angry discussion. I was proud to say what I said and I’d do it again.”

Thibodeau, meanwhile, said, “I’m very disappointed and it was extremely uncomfortable.”

Thibodeau also said he realizes Brown has “sins,” but “he is for the Second Amendment. He doesn’t want to take away my gun or your gun and he was born in New Hampshire and raised in New Hampshire. But he is climbing a hill trying to convince people that he is not anti-gun.

THE KINGS COMETH. Two congressional Kings who are potential candidate for President are coming to New Hampshire.

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, will headline the Grafton County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner on May 24 at the Plymouth State University Hannaway Ice Arena and Savage Welcome Center.

And U.S. Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., will appear at a Cheshire County GOP Garden Party June 21 at the Keene home of Republican National Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron.

SEVEN FOR WALT. GOP candidate for governor Havenstein this week picked up the backing of state Senate President Chuck Morse, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and five other Republican state senators:

Russell Prescott  of Kingston, John Reagan of Deerfield (as we initially reported on April 3), Bob Odell of Lempster, Andy Sanborn of Bedford and Sharon Carson of Londonderry.

TESTERMAN: BUNDY BACKERS ‘PATRIOTS.’ Senate candidate Testerman called on Shaheen and Sen. Kelly Ayotte to welcome back from the Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada veteran liberty movement activist Jerry Delemus and 11 other Granite Staters.

“I want to insure that they are welcomed back as patriots, free men, who chose to help a fellow American keep his freedom and livelihood,” Testerman said this week. “These men committed no crime, broke no laws, caused no damage to property or person, yet the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, labeled them ‘domestic terrorists.’

“I am asking once more that our sitting Senators, and particularly, Jeanne Shaheen, who is part of Reid’s caucus, deliver a public, unconditional statement, denouncing Mr. Reid’s remarks. I expect her to issue a personal ‘welcome home’ to each of these men and women, some of whom are prior military.”

Karen, don’t hold your breath on that one.

SHAHEEN, BROWN WOO VETS. Senate candidate Brown joined the chorus of Republicans this week calling on U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to resign following reports of delayed medical care that led to the deaths of 40 VA hospital patients.

“President Obama needs to install new leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs that will finally address persistent reports of gross mismanagement and restore confidence in an agency that has failed in its basic mission,” Brown said.

The Brown call came during a week when he and Shaheen tried to ‘one-up’ each other on veterans issues. Shaheen kicked off the week with her first television ad, which touted her work for veterans in general and in particular her role in the opening of a Veterans Outreach Center in Keene.

She followed up the ad with an announcement of an 18-member veterans campaign steering committee and on Wednesday introduced a bill to reduce the veterans’ disability claims appeals backlog by increasing the appropriate VA staffing in “underserved areas,” including New Hampshire.

She also introduced a separate bill to make all veterans with a service-connected disability eligible for a free, lifetime pass allowing entry to national parks and recreation areas.

Brown, who is soon to retire from the Army National Guard after 35 years of service, responded by visiting with veterans in Manchester and Milford.

WHOSE DECISION WAS IT? A web video this week of a Rep. Carol Shea-Porter veterans event at American Legion Post 46 in Conway caught an inconsistency between the vets and a Shea-Porter staffer on who was banning videotaping.

The conservative group Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire apparently tried to enter the event, which was open to the public, with its video camera to track Shea-Porter – a common practice on both sides during election season.

According to a video the group posted this week, they were met at the entrance by an American Legion official who told them that Shea-Porter’s staff was asking them “not to record.”

“Not me, I haven’t got a problem with it,” the veteran says.

In the next scene, a Shea-Porter staffer, however, tells the trackers “these are the rules of the American Legion.”

Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire spokesman Derek Dufresne accused Shea-Porter of “hiding from” and “lying to” her constituents.

“Stop using your constituents, particularly veterans, as an excuse to hide yourself from those whom you are expected to represent,” Dufresne said.

We asked Shea-Porter’s office for a comment last Wednesday, when the video first appeared, and again Friday, but have yet to receive a response. If and when we get one, we’ll post it.

MANCHESTER FORUM. Brown won’t attend today’s Manchester GOP’s “Candidate Forum and Cake Auction” today at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in the city.

“He’s in Franklin marching in a parade and attending others events that are part of Community Day with Mayor Ken Merrifield and Sheriff Scott Hilliard,” said Brown spokesman Elizabeth Guyton.

On the schedule in Manchester are Senate candidates Testerman, Smith and Jim Rubens as well as congressional hopefuls Frank Guinta, Dan Innis and Brendan Kelly, candidates for governor Havenstein and Hemingway, and Executive Council candidates Bob Burns and Jim Adams.

Guyton also confirmed Brown also will not attend the June 18 Senate candidates forum sponsored by the Merrimack Business Association due to a scheduling conflict. Smith, Brown and Testerman have accepted invitations.

But, she said, he “will debate.” She did not say when or where, however.  

(John DiStaso is news editor of the New Hampshire Journal and the most experienced political columnist/reporter in New Hampshire. Watch for updates of his Granite Reports column as news breaks. He can be reached at and on Twitter: @jdistaso.)

Author: John DiStaso

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  • jerseycity

    Having run into Bob Smith along the campaign trail several time this season,
    I have noticed that Bob, never known as a deep thinker or a snazzy dresser,
    is looking older and more angry.

  • gadsdengurl

    Let’s get our reporting correct. Kimball founded and led Granite State Liberty PAC. So he is but ONE of the state’s liberty movement leaders out of around 50. That said, he supports Bob Smith now.