Jennifer Horn locks down establishment support in run for N.H. GOP chair

Last modified: 11/29/2012 7:40:20 AM
Conservative activist Jennifer Horn is running for chairwoman of the state Republican Party and has locked down the support of much of New Hampshire’s GOP establishment for her bid.

Horn, a two-time congressional candidate from Nashua, formally announced her candidacy yesterday, a day after Chairman Wayne MacDonald announced he wouldn’t seek a full two-year term at the party’s annual meeting Jan. 26 in Bedford.

“I am running to unify Republicans and to lay the groundwork for a vibrant, robust party,” Horn said in a statement. “We will unite behind our core principles of lower taxes, less spending, and personal freedom. And when the Democrats inevitably over-reach, we’ll hold them accountable.”

No other candidates have been announced in the race for party chair, and Horn said she has “broad support across the Republican Party” for her candidacy.

Her list of announced supporters includes the state’s top Republican officials: U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, outgoing U.S. Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, state Senate President Peter Bragdon, outgoing state House Speaker Bill O’Brien, incoming House Minority Leader Gene Chandler and the state’s two Republican National Committee members, Juliana Bergeron and Steve Duprey.

The 37-strong list of officials and party activists also includes former gubernatorial candidate Kevin Smith, Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield and two former state party chairs, Jayne Millerick and Wayne Semprini.

MacDonald took over in fall 2011 after then-Chairman Jack Kimball resigned under pressure from party leaders unhappy with his tenure. MacDonald decided not to seek a full term following big losses for the GOP in the Nov. 6 election: Republicans lost the race for governor, both of the state’s congressional seats and control of the state House, and saw their majority in the state Senate reduced from 19-5 to 13-11.

MacDonald has said he won’t endorse a candidate in the race to replace him. Horn, in her statement yesterday, thanked him for his service and said he “will continue to be an important voice in our party, and I will draw on his considerable experience.”

Horn is a former radio host and newspaper columnist who ran for Congress in 2008, losing to Democratic incumbent Paul Hodes. She ran again in 2010, losing in the Republican primary to Bass, a former congressman who went on to win the seat that fall but lose his re-election run this fall.

She’s remained active in state politics since then, forming a group called “We the People: A First in the Nation Freedom Forum.” Earlier this year, she chaired the New Hampshire Republican State Committee’s platform committee.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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