Major endorsement in battle between GOP official and Tea Party organizer
January 3rd, 2011
03:14 PM ET
12 years ago

Major endorsement in battle between GOP official and Tea Party organizer

(CNN) - It's not grabbing the national spotlight like the fight for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, but this month's battle to lead the New Hampshire Republican party is just as fascinating.

The race is a showdown between a longtime party insider versus an organizer for the Tea Party movement in a state that plays an extremely important role in choosing the next GOP presidential nominee.

Monday the outgoing party chairman John H. Sununu officially endorsed Juliana Bergeron to succeed him when he steps down at the end of the month.

"I am absolutely convinced that Juliana Bergeron is the best person for the job of chairman of the New Hampshire GOP and I am going to write a letter to strongly recommend her to be elected by the state committee," Sununu told reporters.

Bergeron is the chairwoman of the Cheshire County Republicans and the owner of an insurance and investment firm in Keene, New Hampshire.

"Juliana has the combination of being a strong conservative, being committed to the party and the platform, being committed to a unified party, and being able to raise the money and manage the internals and those are the things that I made clear that I thought were critical aspects to this election cycle," added Sununu. "She's been involved in Republican politics for over 40 years. She's committed to the strong fiscal and social conservative planks of platform."

But the big question is whether Bergeron is conservative enough for the state party committee members who will vote on January 22 to elect a new chair. Some insurgents are backing former gubernatorial candidate and Tea Party organizer Jack Kimball, the other candidate in the race to succeed Sununu, a former Granite State governor and former White House chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush.

During Sununu's watch, Republicans made major gains in the November elections. The party held onto what was once considered a vulnerable open Senate seat, won back both of the state's congressional seats from Democratic control, stormed back to take control of the state Senate, going from minority status to a 19 to 5 majority, and won a 124 seats in the state House of Representatives, winning an historic majority in the chamber.

Bill O'Brien, the new House speaker who was backed by conservative outsiders, has endorsed Kimball in the race for the party chair.

Sununu says such endorsements don't bother him and adds that "Jack Kimball is a dear friend. I respect Jack."

But Sununu says that he's not so happy with what he terms negative campaigning from Kimball supporters: "I've just been a little bit disappointed about some of the divisive comments that have been made by some of Jack's supporters. That is not the way to bring the party together and I think it does Jack a disservice."

Sununu was happy to point out a number of times that Tea Party activists were part of the coalition that helped give the GOP massive victories in the state in the midterms.

"We had great success in pulling this party together. We had great support from the Tea Party in our election, we had great support from the activists out there. They are very much a part of what the Republican Party has to be. I think that Juliana has the capacity to pull all those pieces together and keep this party strong going into 2012," said Sununu.

And while Sununu says he's getting "too old for this," he did say he could continue to have a role in the party if Bergeron wins.

"I'm willing to do what ever I'm asked to do, as long as it doesn't impose too much of a time call on me."

And if Kimball wins: "If Jack gets elected I'll obviously talk to him and see what his agenda is."

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: GOP • New Hampshire
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Tea Party hangover

    Why does CNN use the word "insurgent" when new people start engaging in politics? This is the kind of instigative reporting that makes Americans suspicious of the media's role in political corruption.

    It's up to the people of New Hampshire to decide which direction to go. I get the feeling that media doesn't want any new, principled people to be elected into office lest they find out how the media has been a tool in all the propaganda

    January 3, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "She's committed to the strong fiscal and social conservative planks of platform."

    The only thing that matters now is saving the American economy, and "social conservatism" is a divisive distraction from that objective.

    The only issue on which the neo-cons, the Tea Parties, and most Independents all agree is that the US is on the edge of financial ruin, and the only way to keep the Dems from furthering that ruin is to stay united at least until 2012. Bringing up issues on which near-unanimity doesn't exist will likely guarantee that neither the fiscal conservatives nor the social conservatives will get what they want.

    January 3, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans might be a lot of things but there is no Republican stupid enough to endorse Sarah Palin as their Republican candidate who is the same person who sunk John McCain's "Straight Talk Express", McCain himself wouldn't be that stupid again. I believe as millions believe McCain could have won if it weren't for Palin and Palin is too stupid to realize there is a price she must pay for McCain's defeat; she'll never make it to the WH before McCain.

    January 3, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. Bill

    CNN uses Insurgent to put it into prespective for all liberals....

    January 3, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Nothing would make me happier than watching more and more of the Republican establishment get replaced by extremist teatarded whack jobs who operate in an ideological vaccuum. Either we wake up and realize that these neo-fascist dimwits haven't a solid fact-based clue regarding what they've been tantrumming about and are driven by vapid leaders with unsavory ulterior motives OR they gain more and more of a toehold andpowerbase in our political arenas and we get to see first hand what happens to America when its leadership finally throws off all pretense and starts maknig all of its decisions based on pie-in-the-sky ideological platitudes and oversimplified, evidenec-be-damed policy positions. Any way you slice it we learn our lesson eventually, so bring it on.

    January 3, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. GonzoinHouston

    Ho, ho! The fun is just beginning! Frankenstein's monster has turned on its creator. The only questions left are how far the TP's will go and how much damage will they do to the country before they are recognized as both crazy and phony. They will bluster and posture but none of their platform will ever become law. Pay attention, folks, this is going to going to be a hilarious footnote to political history.

    January 3, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  7. Bessy

    The greatest thing about this whole article is the picture. Cookies look good !

    January 3, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "Any way you slice it we learn our lesson eventually..."

    Yes, we do learn our lessons eventually, and we made use of our hard-won education last November 2nd when we crushed the vicious, vindictive, economy-wrecking, "dimwits" (your word...) of the Democratic Party.

    January 3, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. sane citizen

    Anybody besides me thinking that the GOP establishment wish they'd never heard of the "tea party"?? Hey Goppers . . . tough luck! You're the ones who instigated and fired all of these nut jobs up . . . . I hope they consume your party and make it implode!

    January 3, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. MikefromWV

    John Sununu Sr. was a crook during his time as governor of New Hampshire. He bragged about how he left the state with a surplus, when in actuality, he left the state in a deficit mode. He was real good at juggling numbers. New Hampshire was kept in better financial circumstances when the democrats were in control. I speak as someone who spent almost 30 years in New Hampshire and am an independent.

    January 3, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. Howard

    INTEGRITY is not based upon one's success, but on HOW they achieved their success ... and, what they do with the power once they've acquired it. Apparently, the AMBITIOUS Obamas believe that the ends justify the means. After spending 20 years in Jeremiah Wright's anti-American church, Barack assumed his senatorial position not through democracy, but by having his opponent disqualified for a minor infraction. He then wasted time in the senate, voting present 130 times. To get elected, Barack made empty promises about reform and transparency, while he threw long time supporters under the bus. Ambitious Michelle, used Barack's clout to triple her income at a Chicago hospital, for a B.S. job ... and, now that they have the power, they have no respect for the hard earned money of the American tax payers, as they redistribute our wealth, limit our freedoms, and indulge in a lavish lifestyle. In addition, facts about Barack's origins, affiliations, education, and qualifications are quite murky ... and, any attempt to challenge or clarify these facts, are met with opposition and contempt.

    January 3, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |