CONCORD — Matt Mowers is resigning as executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party at the end of the month and will be succeeded by his counterpart from Connecticut.
The New Hampshire Journal has learned that the NHGOP has hired Elissa Voccola, who has been executive director of the Connecticut Republican Party since May of 2013 and was previously the party’s finance director, to succeed Mowers. Voccola was also involved in Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign as state field director in Utah and Colorado and as state director in Wyoming.
Elissa Voccola, incoming NHGOP executive director
There is no official word on where Mowers, 25, is headed at the end of January, but it is widely anticipated that he will be involved in some capacity in the likely presidential campaign of his old boss, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Before coming to the NHGOP, Mowers was regional political director for Christie’s reelection campaign and was previously regional director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs in Christie’s governor’s office for nearly three years.
Mowers was tapped by NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn to lead the New Hampshire party staff after Christie was reelected in New Jersey in November 2013. Christie visited the state five times last year campaigning for New Hampshire GOP candidates, particularly candidate for governor Walt Havenstein. With Mowers as top staffer, the NHGOP had a somewhat successful midterm election, winning a U.S. House seat and control of the Executive Council and the New Hampshire House, and extending its majority in the state Senate, while losing the U.S. Senate race, the governor’s race and a U.S. House race.
Since the midterm election, while Christie has been reportedly gearing up for a presidential run, there has been no known activity in New Hampshire, as attention on the Republican side has focused on other potential candidates, particularly Romney, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Rand Paul.
Mowers testified last May before a legislative panel investigating the “Bridgegate” George Washington Bridge lane closings scandal, but he was never accused of any wrongdoing. Mowers told the panel his job on the Christie campaign was to solicit endorsements for Christie from mayors in the northern New Jersey area, and he said he did ask Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich to endorse Christie, but Sokolich refused. He testified he was “dumbfounded” by reports that the lane closings were done as political retribution against Sokolich.
The bipartisan panel, led by New Jersey legislative Democrats, found no conclusive evidence that Christie was aware of the lane closures. But Christie was interrogated in December by federal prosecutors still investigating the scandal, according to ABC News.
Voccola has held a wide variety of posts related to the Republican Party and GOP candidates in recent years. She was most recently in New Hampshire in 2011 as a regional manager in Rockingham County for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s short-lived campaign for President.
A graduate of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Voccola has also been political director for the Connecticut Republican Party, has been a legislative aide for Connecticut House Republicans, and has worked on the campaigns of Connecticut U.S. House candidates Sam Caligiuri and David Capiello and the U.S. Senate campaign of former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons.
State Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn said, “We are very fortunate to have someone with Elissa’s talent and depth of knowledge leading our staff as we work towards electing more Republicans in New Hampshire and nominating the next President of the United States. I am confident that her strong record of success and dedicated leadership will be an asset to our state Republican Party.”
Voccola said, “I am excited to work together with all New Hampshire Republicans to grow our party and further our conservative principles here in the Granite State. As someone who has lived and worked in New Hampshire before, I am excited to return to my second home and get to work supporting our Republican candidates.”
Mowers said, “Under Chairman Horn’s leadership and working alongside the best activists and operatives in our party, it has been an honor to be part of the team that won back the state House, Executive Council and first Congressional District. I wish the NHGOP the best heading into the 2016 cycle and look forward to seeing its many successes.”