The position of Republican State Chairman will take on new and expanded responsibilities if Seacoast businessman and tea party leader Jack Kimball wins the post at the GOP’s annual meeting on January 22nd. Kimball spoke to NH Journal this week and answered additional questions via e-mail.
“I think the State GOP Chairman should make it very clear to all the incoming Presidential candidates that the people of the State of New Hampshire have just made a loud statement as to their desire to our party get back to its conservative values and stay there and I support those values,” said Kimball. “In my view, we must put forth a strong conservative presidential candidate.”
Elsewhere in our interview, Kimball said he will apply party platform litmus tests when recruiting state candidates.
“I won’t tolerate our party deviating from its conservative platform,” he said.
“I plan to get involved in activities at the State House if and when I think we are straying from our platform,” he added.
Previous state GOP Chairs have shied away from issues litmus tests and state legislative disagreements. No GOP Chair has enforced conservative discipline among the presidential candidates during New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.
NH Journal’s most recent vote tally for the candidates for state GOP Chair shows the race in a dead heat. Cheshire County GOP Chair Juliania Bergeron has 58 votes. Kimball has 57. There have been several public endorsements for both candidates since our phone canvass and NH Journal intends to publish a new tally next week.
Below is the full transcript of our interview with Jack Kimball:
NH Journal: To start off in one sentence, why do you want the thankless job of Chair of the NH Republican State Party? What led you to decide that you should stand up and take on this campaign?
Jack Kimball: It’s actually not something that was on my radar screen. I began receiving numerous e-mails and phone calls from a large quantity of State Reps. requesting that I consider running for the State GOP Chair. In all those cases I answered that I was not interested in doing this as I was seriously considering another run for the Governorship. But, as time wore on, the pressure from the Reps. and some of my staff increased and I decided that I should at least step back and consider running. So, after much thought and consideration, I had a long talk with my wife, Donna Marie, and I made the decision to seek the position.
The reason why is simple. Those who know me know that I am a patriot, not a politician. I decided to do this because it is apparent that many of the folks in our party want me to do it, and it simply cannot be about me, or Juliana, or Chairman Sununu. It has to be about the people of our State and our Party. If they think that I would make a good Chairman and they have decided to back me, then I feel that I should be open to the idea. Having made this decision, I knew it had to preclude any run for political office in the 2012 cycle. So, if elected, running for Governor or any other elective office is off the table.
NHJ: What are your three top objectives if you were to become Chair?
JK: As I see it, the three main objectives would be as follows:
1. Party Unity: Over the past two years I have met hundreds of longtime Republican activists that have been in the trenches for many years. I have made a lot of inroads with these great folks and they deserve our admiration. In addition, I have met and have inspired thousands of new Conservative activists to come back to our Party. Most of these people understand what is at stake in our country and our State. They realize that we are on a precipice and that we must take positive action to take our country back from those that have caused it so much harm. I can be the bridge between those new activists and those that have been active in the Party for many years. We also must stick to our conservative party platform and, as I see it, it is up to the State GOP Chair to guide our Party in that direction. Clearly, without party unity, we will not be able to keep our majority in the State House, Senate, and Executive Council.
2. Fundraising: This is a critical component of the State GOP Chairman’s responsibilities. Raising funds has been major concern for the past few years. I was the second highest fundraiser in the Gubernatorial race. But, fundraising for political office is very different than fundraising for the State Party; they are truly apples and oranges. Fundraising for the Party will consist of a wide range of efforts. We will have to utilize the great contingent of elected officials that we now have in Washington, D.C. That would be Senator Kelly Ayotte, Congressman Frank Guinta and Congressman Charlie Bass. I have already spoken to Senator Ayotte and Congressman Guinta. They both agreed that should I be elected, they will do everything they can to help our State Party raise money. I have not yet spoken to Congressman Bass, but I will do that in the near future. Another area that we will focus on is the small business community; we must prove to them that we are worthy of their financial support. We can do this by passing statewide tax relief legislation that will allow our small businesses to keep more of the fruits of their labor so that they can expand their businesses and stimulate our local economy. In order to aid in that effort I will be announcing tomorrow that two prominent businessmen, known by the entire state, will be the Co-Chairs of my Finance Committee. This committee will be instrumental in assisting me in fundraising efforts in our business community. We will also have to continue to rely on our long-term traditional contributors who have been so supportive of the Party throughout the years. Lastly, we must reach out to all our Party members, new and old, and let them know that we understand why we have lost their trust and make certain that we correct that error by honoring our word and sticking to our Conservative principles and platform. If we do that, they will be far more motivated to help out financially.
3. Organization: In order to be successful in this position, you have to have excellent organizational skills. I have been an executive for 40 years and a business owner for 30 of those years. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I will make certain to surround myself with the best talent possible. While all the State GOP paid positions are important, the Executive Director position is the most critical. We will be looking for a strong executive to fill that slot. We are already receiving resumes and I will be reviewing them in the coming weeks. In addition to the Chairman’s immediate staff, he must establish strong working relationships with his Assistant Chairmen as well as all the various County and City/Town Chairs – a daunting task but one that is essential.
NHJ: How will you translate wins at the ballot box this past November into long-term support for the Party? When you leave the post, how do you want to be remembered?
JK: The resounding win in the ballot box last November 2nd was breathtaking. Never as a resident of this state have I seen anything like it. The people have spoken loudly and they have mandated that our Legislators reverse the liberal, ideological, big government legislation that has been at the forefront of the Democratically controlled State House, Executive Council and Governor for the past four to six years. If our legislators are listening then we will see the return to sanity in our state. If not, they will not remain in office very long. So, the answer to long-term support for our Party is simple: we must, as a Party, provide long term Conservative support to the people of our state.
When I leave the post I would like to know that I made a significant difference in Party growth and unity through Conservative values, and that I would have had an influence on who we choose as our next President.
NHJ: What directives will you give your staff the first 60 days in office? Will you maintain the current staff?
JK: The first 60 days will be spent getting the office and staff organized, determining immediate priorities such as events surrounding incoming Presidential candidates, initial fundraising efforts and events, and making certain that all legal and accounting matters are in good order. We already know that some of the existing staff will be moving on to other positions. We will evaluate all other position requirements and make staffing decisions accordingly.
NHJ: Will you get involved in activities over at the State House and if so, how? Publically? Privately? Both? To that end, how would a Chairman Kimball have handled the Rep. Brunelle issue with the House Leadership?
JK: I plan to get involved in activities at the State House if and when I think we are straying from our platform. I have full confidence in Speaker of the House, Bill O’Brien and House Majority Leader, DJ Bettencourt. I like what I have seen so far. My involvement would normally be private but there may be times when a public statement may be necessary. The Brunelle issue is one where I would simply call a meeting with the House Leadership and discuss the matter with them and make decisions accordingly.
NHJ: Do you think the State Chairman should police the Presidential candidates’ conservative credentials?
JK: I think the State GOP Chairman should make it very clear to all the incoming Presidential candidates that the people of the state of New Hampshire have just made a loud statement as to their desire for our Party to get back to its conservative values and stay there, and I support those values. In my view, we must put forth a strong conservative Presidential candidate.
NHJ: We learned a lot about you during your run for Governor, however, many folks may not know a lot about your background. Tell us a little about yourself? Hobbies?
JK: A lot of folks know very little about my previous and/or current hobbies, so I will expand on those for this interview. I was a four-sport letterman in high school. I played football, baseball, basketball, and was a sprinter on the indoor track team. During my military career, I played fast pitch softball for the 6th Naval District out of Naval Air Station, Cecil Field, FL. After my honorable discharge from the Navy in 1970, I continued playing fast pitch AA softball for over 24 years. I was a catcher for most of that time. I have always been an avid fisherman and I also love boating. Living in the Seacoast has been a wonderful experience with respect to both of those hobbies. I picked up playing tennis in past years and was also proficient in archery. I also enjoy target shooting with both handguns and rifles.
JK: I live in Dover, NH with my wife Donna Marie and my mother-in-law, Jeanne. I have a daughter, Tammy, who is the Office Manager of my business. She is married to my son-in-law, Tate, who is the Operations Manager of my business. The two of them run the day-to-day operations so that I can make this run for the State GOP Chair. They have also blessed me with two beautiful granddaughters, Teya and Tiana. I have another daughter, Leah, who is beginning her quest for a Master’s degree in Cambridge, MA. My mother, two brothers and sister live in Derry, NH. I have many nieces and nephews.
NHJ: What book are you reading right now?
JK: Nullification, by Thomas Woods.
NHJ: Can you share with us some of your business experiences? Lessons learned in success and failure?
JK: My executive career started at Sanders Associates in 1971, where I worked in the Credit Department as a collections specialist for the commercial sector of their business. I then moved on to become the Assistant Credit Manager at a multi-billion dollar company, BASF Systems in Bedford, MA. While there I rose very quickly to become a Department Head. I stayed with that firm for five years and then started my very first business in 1977 called Action Maintenance Services, Inc. out of my home in Nashua, NH. I had $1,000.00 to my name and turned that into a thriving small business. My current business, Great Bay Facility Maintenance Service, Inc. is located near the Portsmouth traffic circle in Portsmouth, NH. I started this business is 1998. It is a commercial cleaning business that presently services about 60 buildings in the Seacoast area. We also provide fire, water and mold remediation services, as well as dry ice blasting – think of sand blasting without the sand, with no residue to speak of. We presently employ mixture of 60 full- and part- time employees. Like any small businessman that takes risks, I have experienced my ups and downs, but the ups far exceed the downs. The great thing about our country is that you always have the opportunity to succeed as long as you have the drive a willingness to persevere.
NHJ: How long have you been involved in Republican politics?
JK: I have been a life long Conservative Republican (Regan Conservative). While I have always paid attention to politics, it was not until a few years ago that I decided to jump in and fight for my country. Yes, fight for my country – that is how I view my present involvement in the process. I am not a politician; I am a patriot. That is why I think people are drawn to me. They know that I recognize the importance of honesty and integrity in this arena. They know that we are at a crossroads in our country and they know that I am a warrior who will stand firm on his principles and, in turn, will make certain that our Party sticks to its conservative platform.
NHJ: Do you support the Republican platform? Will you apply any platform litmus test when recruiting candidates?
JK: Yes and yes.
NHJ: What do you tell Committee members when/if ideology comes up?
JK: I tell them what I believe in. But, I also tell them that I can and will apply objectivity to the State GOP Chair position while also letting them know that I won’t tolerate our Party deviating from its conservative platform.
NHJ: Finally, as many know, this is really a person-to-person campaign with only 493 voters. How has the campaign been so far?
JK: It’s looking very good.
NHJ: Explain where you’ve been, what type of response you’ve gotten. Any surprises?
JK: I’ve actually attended several committee events where I have been given the opportunity to speak. I have also been making many phone calls with the help of many dedicated volunteers. We have been fortunate to have received numerous endorsements, not the least of which were from Speaker of the House, Bill O’Brien and House Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt. As of this interview we only have 10 days left before the election and we are taking nothing for granted.
NHJ: What do you think your vote count is up to?
JK: It’s high and it’s secret.
NHJ: Thanks again for your time. Any last thoughts you’d like to leave with our readers?
JK: Please go to the campaign website to see our present list of endorsements as well as other important info. It is www.jackfornhgopchair.com. You can also reach me by phone at (603) 828-8026 and by e-mail at email@example.com.