Jeanie Forrester abruptly resigns as chairwoman of NHGOP

  • Jeanie Forrester in January 2018. Paul Steinhauser—

For the Monitor
Published: 6/22/2018 7:35:43 PM

Jeanie Forrester abruptly resigned on Friday as chairwoman of New Hampshire’s Republican Party.

“I have been offered an opportunity to work with local government and effective June 30th, I will no longer serve as Chair of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee,” Forrester wrote in a letter sent late in the afternoon to the party’s executive committee.

Forrester’s move comes as the state party lags behind its Democratic counterpart when it comes to fundraising, a crucial metric. And her resignation also comes with less than five months to go until November’s midterm elections.

With Forrester stepping down, vice-chair Wayne MacDonald will take over as head of the state party.

Forrester spent six years in the state Senate before making an unsuccessful bid for her party’s 2016 gubernatorial nomination. Forrester, of Meredith, was named party chair later that year by Chris Sununu soon after he was elected governor.

“Jeanie Forrester has enthusiastically led the New Hampshire Republican State Committee over the last 18 months, and her passion and leadership for advancing Republican candidates and causes have been second-to-none,” Sununu said in a statement.

Steve Duprey, a longtime Republican National Committee member who served seven years as state party chair two decades ago, explained that it’s no easy task.

“It’s a difficult job and only people who’ve served as chair of either party can appreciate just how hard it is to pull a party together, to achieve election victories,” Duprey said.

“She worked hard, had good results. But I don’t fault her one bit for deciding to take an opportunity in the public sector,” he added.

But when it comes to the two main tasks of a party chair – fundraising and winning elections – Forrester didn’t have great success during her tenure.

Forrester was never known as a voracious fundraiser during her years in the state Senate or during her bid for governor. And the state party currently trails far behind the New Hampshire Democratic Party in the fundraising battle.

In filings this week, the state Democratic Party reported raising nearly $1.3 million since the start of the 2018 cycle, with a $214,978 surplus. By comparison, the NHGOP raised just $195,829, with a deficit of $29,102.

And it’s been a tough road for the Republicans the past year and a half at the ballot box, with the Democrats winning nine of eleven special legislative elections and scoring big victories in last November’s municipal elections, including recapturing the mayor’s office in Manchester.

MacDonald was informed of Forrester’s resignation by phone moments after his flight landed at Boston’s Logan Airport. MacDonald, who was returning to New Hampshire after some time off, told the Monitor “I guess I needed this vacation.”

“This is quite a welcome home,” he added.

MacDonald complimented Forrester.

“I’m really enjoyed working with Jeanie. She’s an incredibly hard worker and very devoted to the party and the political process,” he said. “I’m definitely sorry to hear this and I certainly wish her the very best.”

This is the second time MacDonald has taken over as party chair. He succeeded Jack Kimball as party chairman in September 2011, after Kimball stepped down.

Longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley wished Forrester well.

“Only someone who has served as a state party chair can appreciate the challenges and sacrifices one makes to do the job,” Buckley said. 

Forrester promised to stay active in state politics.

“I look forward to staying involved through various campaigns to assure that Republicans continue to maintain and grow our majorities,” she said in her statement.

 The governor welcomed that news.

“While we will greatly miss Chairman Forrester, we look forward to her staying involved with the party in the months and years ahead,” he said.

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