Horn announces bid to become first two-term NHGOP chair since 2001

CONCORD — After guiding the state Republican Party to stronger showing in the recent midterm election than it had in 2012, New Hampshire Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn today announced her candidacy for a a second term.


“Over the past two years we have made great progress in many areas,” Horn wrote in an email to members of the NHGOP executive committee this morning. She wrote that such progress included “repairing the divisions” in the party, “measurable electoral success,” improvements in “data and upgrading our technology,” and “a successful messaging and communications operation.”


She also wrote that the NHGOP is financially “sound,” ending the year “with nearly $200,000 in the bank.” She wrote that $3 million “passed through the party” in the 2014 cycle, including party fundraising that matched 2010, “RNC support for the field operation” and “generous joint fundraising efforts with (candidate for the U.S. Senate) Scott Brown.”


If she wins reelection at the state committee’s annual meeting on Jan. 10 at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, Horn, of Nashua, would be the first NHGOP chair to serve more than a single term since Steve Duprey, who served four terms, ending in January 2001.


Since 2001, no chair has served more than one term. The chairs since Duprey were, in chronological order: John Dowd, Jayne Millerick, Warren Henderson, Wayne Semprini, Fergus Cullen, John H. Sununu, Jack Kimball, Wayne MacDonald and now Horn.


Meanwhile the Democratic Party has had two chairs since 2000, Kathy Sullivan and current chair Raymond Buckley.


“Now more than ever we need consistency in leadership and uninterrupted progress as we continue to expand our base, improve our operations and prepare for the upcoming presidential primary,” she wrote. “Not only do we need to hold the gains we achieved, we need to protect Sen. (Kelly) Ayotte in her reelection and make sure that New Hampshire delivers in our quest to win back the White House in 2016.”


No one challenger to Horn has yet emerged. Jan. 5 at 12 noon is the deadline filing for candidacies for officer posts. A total of 506 members of the state committee will be eligible to vote.


Horn, 50,  was elected in January 2013, defeating conservative liberty movement activist and 2014 candidate for governor Andrew Hemingway. She succeeded Wayne MacDonald, who was elevated to chair after predecessor Jack Kimball resigned under fire. MacDonald chose not to seek a full term.


The party had had a tough year at the ballot box in 2012, as did Republicans nationwide.


President Barack Obama easily won the state’s four electoral votes, and Democrats won the governor’s election and both U.S. House races, gaining three of the four congressional delegation seats. Republicans also lost the state House and Executive Council, while holding on to the state Senate.


This year, however, with Horn stressing party unity, the NHGOP made some progress, while still not being part of the national Republican wave. Republicans won back the House, with a 239 to 160 majority, won back the Executive Council and increased their advantage in the state Senate from 13-11 to 14-10.


But at the top of the ticket, Brown lost to incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Republican challenger Walt Havenstein lost to Gov. Maggie Hassan, and Republican challenger Marilinda Garcia lost to Rep. Ann Kuster. Republican Frank Guinta, however, defeated Rep. Carol Shea-Porter to return to the U.S. House.


After the election, Horn said the party improved its grassroots organizational operation over 2012, while acknowledging that there are improvements to be made in the expectedly tough presidential election year of 2016.


In a presentation to the Republican State Committee executive committee in mid-November, Horn maintained that the party’s successes in the midterm elections were attributable to a “new ground game,” improved technology and additional coordination among various GOP committees.


Horn is now faced with dissension in the New Hampshire House GOP caucus, but has held fast to her position in the flare up. After Rep. Bill O’Brien narrowly won the caucus vote over Rep. Gene Chandler, Rep. Shawn Jasper won the vote for House Speaker last week after Democrats joined with about 40 Republican members to defeat O’Brien on a third ballot.


Horn did not take sides in the O’Brien-Chandler nominating contest, but once he was nominated by the caucus, she supported him strongly in statements and emails to House members. She promised to enforce a state party bylaw requiring that the House representative on the state party executive committee must be elected by a majority of the House caucus – as a result disqualifying Speaker Jasper from the committee.


As O’Brien supporters are now planning to elect their own GOP House leader – and not recognize Jasper’s appointee as Majority Leader – Horn has not objected.  She has promised to entertain resolutions condemning Jasper’s election by the Democratic-led coalition at next Monday’s executive committee meeting.


In an email to executive committee members last week, Horn wrote:


“Once the majority of the caucus selected Representative Bill O’Brien as the Republican nominee, I strongly and vocally supported him. Rep. O’Brien was the fairly elected nominee for Speaker and the party must always stand with our nominees. I am sure you can imagine how all of those Republicans who stood with our senate, congressional and gubernatorial nominees in the general election, after their preferred candidates lost the primary, felt as they watch elected Republicans refuse to stand with their nominee for speaker.”


Horn ran for the 2nd District U.S. House seat in 2008, losing to Rep. Paul Hodes in the general election, and in 2010, when she lost to Rep. Charlie Bass in the party primary.
The full text of today’s Horn email follows:


Dear Friends & Fellow Executive Committee Members,


I am writing to let you all know that, after much consideration and careful thought, I have decided to run for reelection as Chairman of our great party for the 2015-2016 term.


Over the past two years we have made great progress in many areas. As a team, we took over at a time when the party was facing many challenges, and as a team we have not only overcome those challenges, we have built a sure foundation that will serve our party for years to come.


• Over the past two years we have made progress in repairing the divisions in our party. By welcoming all sincere Republicans to the table, hosting many Building Bridges conversations, coffees with the Chairman, and other outreach efforts, we were able to go into the general election with a coordinated, unified effort.


• We experienced measurable electoral success. With a strong win in CD1 by Frank Guinta, we now hold half of our state’s Federal Delegation. We not only won back the majority in the State House, we picked up 67 new seats. We added another Republican to our majority in the Senate and won back the majority on the Executive Council. Gov. Hassan is now surrounded by strong, responsible Republican leadership.


• We’ve made great strides in improving our data and upgrading our technology, most notably with the successful roll out of our new mobile app and extraordinary advancements in micro-targeting.


• We executed a very successful messaging and communications operation, as we have maintained an aggressive and consistent program of exposing the failures and hypocrisy of our Democrat opponents, taking them on in every venue, including the press, Close Up, Chamber of Commerce forums, etc.


• We corrected all of the outstanding errors with the FEC from previous years, we filed every single one of our reports on time, and we have a full 2-year record of error free filings.


• Financially, the party is sound. We are closing out the year with nearly $200,000 the bank.


• Over 3 million dollars passed through the party this cycle, including party fundraising that matched the 2010 cycle, RNC support for the field operation and very successful and generous joint fundraising efforts with Scott Brown. There is still a great deal of important work to do as we move forward. Not only do we need to hold the gains we achieved, we need to protect Sen. Ayotte in her reelection and make sure that New Hampshire delivers in our quest to win back the White House in 2016.


Since 2001, the Democrat party in NH has had only two Chairmen – Kathy Sullivan and Ray Buckley. We have not had a Chairman hold the position in the Republican Party for more than one term since Steve Duprey served from 1997 – 2001. Now more than ever we need consistency in leadership and uninterrupted progress as we continue to expand our base, improve our operations and prepare for the upcoming Presidential primary.


I want to thank you for all you have done to contribute to our success. It has been a privilege to serve with you and I hope to be able to earn your support in my reelection efforts. I look forward to speaking with each of you in the days and weeks ahead.


I remain firmly convinced that ours is the party of solutions, the party that gives a voice to all hard-working New Hampshire families, the party of liberty, freedom and unlimited opportunity.


Again, my thanks to each of you for all you do to protect and promote Republican principles in New Hampshire.


Best regards,

Author: John DiStaso

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