As I sit to write this blog, I initially thought that it would be a short one, but I'm pretty sure that I'm going to fail at brevity. You see, I'm still a bit rattled over Saturday's annual meeting of the NH Republican State Committee.
But first, a few disclosures:
1) In no way should this blog be considered as a slam against the newly-elected state party chairman, Jennifer Horn. I wish her the best of luck and success with the task of uniting the state party, but I'm not optimistic that she or anyone else can.
2) I am a registered Republican, and have been for the past few years, primarily because at this stage of my life, I identify more with the Republican platform than that of the Democratic platform. Does this mean that I hate or demonize Democrats and disagree with them on everything? Not at all. Does this mean that I will vote only for a candidate with an R beside his or her name? Not at all. I vote for a candidate based on his or her qualifications and positions, and on whom I believe is the best equipped to perform the actual duties of the position being sought. Have I voted for a Democrat since I've been a registered Republican? Yes, I have. And I favored a Democrat in one of the 2012 hotly-contested races. Did I ever vote for a Republican when I was a registered Democrat? Yes, I did. So, I guess to both strict party-line Republicans and Democrats, I would be judged as a terrible person. So be it. I never pledged to either party that I was willing to give up my own thought process or give up my right to freely vote for whom I choose.
3) I am not a 'power" in the NH Republican party, nor do I aspire to such. I'm just an ordinary voter. Thus, I'm not on the 'inside track", so's to speak. I have no intimate knowledge about any behind-the-scenes plans, power grabs (attempted or actual), personal rivalries, interesting tidbits, etc., etc., etc..
4) While I have put bumper stickers on my car and/or a sign in my yard for a favorite candidate, and while I have attended receptions for various candidates to which I've received invitations, and while I have spoken well of some candidates to family members and very close friends, I have not financially contributed to any candidate. Thus, I guess that most candidates would consider me as a marginal supporter at best. Frankly, I doubt this will change since for the foreseeable future, medical costs will continue to evaporate a big share of our income.
5) I attended Saturday's Republican annual meeting as a first-time delegate. I did not campaign to become a delegate, nor did I realize that when I indicated that I was willing to help Bedford Republicans that I would be nominated and elected as a delegate. The fact that I was nominated and elected is most likely due to another body being needed since as I've said already, I am not a party "insider".
6) Once learning that I was an actual delegate, I committed myself to attending Saturday's meeting. I carefully studied what would be discussed at the meeting, and took a strong interest in learning about the two candidates for the party's state chairmanship - Andrew Hemingway and Jennifer Horn. In fact, I interviewed both of them for my "Tell It Like It Is" show. (If you would like to see those two shows, you can do so by going to www.tellitlikeitisnh.com) . I have stated in blogs that I thought that both are intelligent, committed, talented, and eloquent. I've also stated that Jennifer seemed more identifiable as a traditional candidate, and Andrew seemed more identifiable as representing newer and younger party members who will be the party majority in the not so distant future. The personal question for me was which of the two could better identify, address, and solve the very obvious problems of today's Republican party in New Hampshire. Which of the two would have the savvy to truly recognize and understand the party divisions, and which would have the courage and stamina to fight some battles that need to be fought if the party is to again have strength in the state? I did not express my personal views on such either in blogs or on my television show, nor did I disclose such to reporters who asked.
So, now that I've made all of my disclosures, I'll move on to giving my thoughts and observations on the Saturday meeting of the NH Republican State Committee.
1. Approximately 90% of eligible delegates signed in as meeting attendees, however, the final voting reflected only about 80% of delegates actually voting. I have no idea if the ungodly length of the meeting caused some people to leave, or if some people simply chose not to vote because they couldn't choose between the two chairman candidates or didn't like either. Personally, I saw this as a cause for concern.
2. I most definitely had the impression throughout the day that there was not much intermingling between those whom could be described as longtime party activists, and those whom by age alone could be deemed as the newer activists and volunteers. Personally, I saw this as a cause for concern.
3. While I did not witness the event, I heard that there was quite a confrontation in the lobby area between a female state legislator and a female candidate for a party elected position. This was later reported in another online publication, along with a photo of a defaced sign, reportedly defaced by the legislator. Personally, I saw this as another cause for concern.
4. I was rather shocked when a man named Jim Foley went to the podium to deliver the Treasurer's report, and turned it into an angry and loud diatribe against people who had criticized the party's fundraising ability and success. If that wasn't bad enough, he proceeded to make personal comments about one of the critics, and boos and shouts could clearly be heard from throughout the room. Personally, I saw this as yet another cause for concern.
5. Lots of people spoke at the podium, and lots of people talked about what a great day of unity Saturday would prove to be. And lots of people spoke in general terms about improving the party's messaging, embracing new technologies, and all factions of the party working in harmony to advance the cause. I did not, however, hear any specific or definitive plans and goals. Personally, I saw this as an additional cause for concern.
6. It wasn't until halfway through the afternoon that delegates finally got to vote for those who would hold the party's major elected positions. The voting that required ballots was nothing less than chaotic as long lines formed in every direction for people to get ballots, and then formed a second time for them to find the appropriate county ballot box and name checklist. Personally, I saw the disorganization as one more cause for concern. And I wondered if the accuracy of the voting process could be guaranteed.
7. Finally, at about 4:15 PM, the two candidates for the chairmanship were asked to come onstage. As we all anxiously awaited the outcome of the election, a rather long and serious-looking conversation went on between the candidates and the outgoing party chairman. And then, Andrew Hemingway went to the microphone and asked that his single vote be considered as the election of Jennifer Horn as the new chairman.
And I was absolutely appalled that we were not being told the actual vote count. And I was not the only one.
8. After the meeting had been adjourned, I approached the outgoing party chairman, and I related that I was highly disappointed that the election results were not disclosed. I asked why they had not been. He impatiently told me that for "unity" purposes, there was no need to give the results of the vote. I stated that it sounded more like "secrecy' to me, and that perhaps such things had something to do with people losing faith in the NH Republican party. He told me that he was not going to waste his time discussing the vote with me. Oh yeah . . . and he also said that people who blog are those who are "ruining" the party. Thus, I suppose my blog of today will officially make me an enemy of those who espouse silence as the backbone of party "unity". I wonder if Patch and other blog publishers will also be regarded as detrimental to Republican "unity" values.
I did approach Andrew Hemingway when he was leaving the building, and I asked him if he would tell me the actual vote count. He related that both candidates were asked to promise to not divulge the results. I did not have the chance to ask Jennifer Horn the same question. However, since "promises" were extracted, I'm sure that she would have also declined.
BUT, I did find out anyway. As I said earlier, many, many people were appalled that the voting count was not disclosed. The vote was 222 for Horn, and 189 for Hemingway - - - a separation of only 33 votes. Since Hemingway was considered to be the party upstart who lacked history with the inner circle, the vote certainly seems to suggest that a lot of party delegates were making a strong statement of disenchantment with the party's decisions in recent years. But that's simply my opinion.
So . . . we'll all see what happens in coming months. Will the New Hampshire GOP get unified and get its act together? Perhaps. Personally, I think that there are multiple reasons for concern. Secrecy in the name of unity is one of them. And the suggestion that people who state their opinions are detrimental to Republicans is very certainly another.
Does anyone in party leadership care what I think? I very much doubt it. But they should care about how many other people may be thinking some of the same things. The word "inclusion" gets thrown around a lot. We'll see in 2013 if its meaning is known.