The vote on the next chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Committee party was still hours away, but the message among local GOP leaders was clear.
"When we stop fighting ourselves, we win," said U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
Ayotte joined former congressman Frank Guinta, outgoing NH GOP Chairman Wayne MacDonald and hundreds of Granite State conservatives at Bedford High School for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee Annual Meeting on Saturday morning.
Most agreed the party is split among traditional New Hampshire conservatives and a younger, more liberty-minded sect of Republicans, a reality played out in the race to become the next leader of the state committee.
Indeed, the election between former congressional candidate Jennifer Horn and former chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of NH Andrew Hemingway, in many ways, has been a microcosm of the in-state Republican divide.
Andy Martin of Manchester is the third candidate in the race, a dark horse, who admits to being a controversial candidate.
Guinta was one of many in attendance who pleaded with the party to unite as one behind the new chairman.
"I think it's very critical for us to look at the consequences of an election ... and when you're somebody who wants to be fiscally responsible and you're concerned about the long-term outlook of your state and your country ... we need to focus on the 80-percent of the things we agree on as a party," said Guinta.
"We need to realize that we need to to be united, we can be united and we should be united, and we need to illustrate the differences between our party and the Democratic party and where they've moved, which is a very liberal approach," he continued. "This is no longer the party of JFK anymore, it's a liberal party, and those are the differences that we need to be identifying, but it's got to start with us as a family, understanding we're a family, uniting and having responsible disagreements amongst ourselves so we can focus on making sure we articulate where our core values are, as opposed to what liberal Democrats are doing for this country."
Guinta, who endorsed Horn prior to Hemingway entering the race, said he'll stand firmly behind either candidate.
"I think it will be a close race, and I do get the sense that regardless everyone is talking about no matter what happens, we're going to get together," said Giunta, " I don't like to be a prognosticator, but I think both candidates have a lot of good qualities about them."
Click here for more on today's annual meeting and elections, and check back with Patch Saturday afternoon for full results.