Last month, the 603 Alliance endorsed Steve Stepanek and Pam Tucker for re-election as the Chair and Vice-Chair of the NHGOP, respectively. We stand firmly behind that endorsement, despite recent attempts by their challengers to dismiss Stepanek’s and Tucker’s remarkable accomplishments of the past two years.
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In November of 2018, under the party’s previous leadership, New Hampshire Republicans suffered miserable losses, ceding a near veto-proof majority to the Democrats. Fortunately, we still had a Republican in the corner office, and the Governor’s vetoes spared the people of New Hampshire from aggressive attacks on our 2nd Amendment rights, measures aimed at undermining election integrity, and a first-ever income tax on workers in our state.
2018’s Republican losses occurred shortly after the abrupt departure of the NHGOP chair in June, which followed several years during which Jennifer Horn held the reins. Horn, who has since denounced the Republican party and supported the Biden/Harris ticket in 2020, left the NHGOP financially weakened, lacking in grassroots support, and without strategic direction.
The party’s financial picture looked grim. At the end of 2018, the NHGOP was deeply in debt and struggling to even make payroll, despite having done very little to support state-level candidates in the 2018 election.
What a difference two years makes. In January of 2019, GOP State Committee members decided that it was time to make a change. Party leadership had turned its back on Republican principles, and we needed leaders who were willing to unapologetically champion limited government, support President Trump and drive the Republican agenda forward. We chose Steve Stepanek and Pam Tucker to do that.
Stepanek and Tucker have unassailable conservative credentials, both having served in House leadership under Speaker Bill O’Brien. In 2011, Stepanek was appointed to lead efforts to overhaul the state budget. The result: O’Brien, Stepanek, and Tucker achieved what no one believed was possible. They reduced the budget by 11%, cutting biennial spending by $1.2 billion. In 2015, Stepanek was the first person in New Hampshire to publicly endorse Donald Trump and served as co-chair of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Pam Tucker, likewise, has championed limited government throughout her tenure in public life and served as co-chair of the conservative House Republican Alliance in the 2013-2014 biennium.
As Chair and Vice-Chair of the NHGOP, Steve Stepanek and Pam Tucker have held fast to those principles. Just as importantly, they have produced outstanding results.
In 2020, Republicans gained control of the House, the Senate, and the Executive Council; and retained control of the Governor’s office. Pam Tucker led candidate recruitment efforts, bringing together a diverse coalition of grassroots activists to deliver the most complete GOP slate in recent history. By May of 2018, the NHGOP had not even recruited enough candidates to constitute a majority in the New Hampshire House and left 80 seats unchallenged in the general election. Two years later, with Pam Tucker at the helm, the GOP narrowed that number to just 14, fielding candidates in every viable district in the state (and even in many solid blue districts).
Stepanek made it a priority to engage the grassroots, appointing Kate Day to nurture local town committees throughout the state and to create new committees where none existed. Today, there are over 100 active city and town committees throughout New Hampshire.
The NHGOP’s financial position has also improved. Under the leadership of Stepanek and Tucker, the state party has gone from a state of de facto bankruptcy to having well over $100,000 in the bank; and that’s after spending generously in support of Republican candidates in the 2020 state races. State Rep candidates who had never before seen direct spending from the state party saw a dramatic turnaround in 2020. The NHGOP delivered, sending multiple mailings to voters in competitive districts.
Perhaps the most important result is the outcome of the 2020 election. New Hampshire has been hailed as the only state that flipped both houses to Republican control. And we now have a 4-1 majority on the Executive Council. That is an extremely good thing for New Hampshire.
Some critics are pointing to the GOP’s disappointing losses in federal races. A few have even questioned why current NHGOP leadership “gave us” the wrong candidates for Congressional seats. We should be 100% clear; it is not the NHGOP’s job to “give” us our nominees. That’s what primary elections are for. The voters chose Steve Negron and Matt Mowers, who received limited support from the NRCC and were heavily outspent by entrenched incumbents. Unlike some of our prior NHGOP chairs, Tucker and Stepanek have diligently maintained the principle of neutrality throughout the primary process; and that’s the way it should be.
We would be remiss not to also mention last Saturday’s NHGOP meeting. It was poorly managed and left a lot of people very frustrated (including those of us on the 603 Alliance Board who were participants). Following the meeting, Stepanek took ownership of the problem and declared that “the buck stops with me.” That is, after all, what good leaders do. There is a more important message here, though, which is that Saturday’s meeting should serve as prima facie evidence that Zoom meetings for 350+ people simply don’t work. We hope that House Democrats will take note of that fact and cease their continued appeals for fully remote House sessions.
It is easy to be an armchair quarterback, standing on the outside throwing stones at the current party leadership and promising that things will be different if we just “kick the bums out.” Unfortunately, the facts simply don’t support that. Stepanek and Tucker took the helm when the NHGOP was in tatters, and Republicans had suffered nearly catastrophic losses in the 2018 elections. New Hampshire’s turnaround in 2020 has been hailed nationally as a remarkable success story. Why would we want to change that?
The 603 Alliance urges State Committee Members to re-elect Steve Stepanek and Pam Tucker to lead the NHGOP.