NH Journal has learned that the website, www.kevinsmithforgovernor.com, has recently been activated in an effort to build support for a Kevin Smith candidacy for Governor of New Hampshire.
Kevin Smith, Executive Director of the Cornerstone Policy Research organization, has not publicly expressed an interest in a campaign for Governor but many influential Republicans have been talking behind the scenes about the need for a fresh, new face on the campaign scene. New Hampshire politics has been dominated in recent years by familiar politicians like Jeb Bradley, Charlie Bass, Ovide Lamontagne, John Stephen and several members of the Sununu family.
Smith was a young state representative back in the 90s, served in Governor Craig Benson’s administration, and a few years ago signed on with Cornerstone Policy Research. Smith has been widely recognized for taking Cornerstone Policy Research, and Cornerstone Action, from a little known group of activists, to a powerhouse of an organization that is now the first stop for every candidate running for the Republican nomination for President. With the help of an active Board President, Shannon McGinley, Smith has led the fight on the top social issues in the Republican Party from parental notification legislation to the preservation of traditional marriage.
The Draft Smith website pops up at a time when Ovide Lamontagne has become more outspoken about a future campaign. Lamontagne has all but publicly announced for Governor and has even begun hitting the editorial board circuit. Lamontagne was the runner-up to Kelly Ayotte in the Republican Primary for US Senate last year and has been using his close finish as a platform to begin a fourth campaign for public office. However, Lamontagne has lost all three previous bids for office: Congress in 1992, Governor in 1996 and US Senate in 2010 and some in conservative Republican circles think it’s time to let a new generation of leaders chart the course for Republicans in New Hampshire.
One Republican leader, who expressed support for a Kevin Smith candidacy but wants to remain anonymous, said, “It’s time New Hampshire select leaders from a younger generation, just as South Carolina has done with Governor Nikki Haley, New Jersey with Governor Chris Christie, and Florida with Senator Marco Rubio. I love Ovide Lamontagne, but he has run and lost three times over the last 20 years. It’s time for someone new. ”