The rumors started moments after he came within a whisker of defeating Kelly Ayotte in the 2010 Republican primary for U.S. Senate: Ovide Lamontagne is going to run for Governor in 2012.

Is it true? NH Journal doesn’t have any inside information on Ovide’s future. But we have obtained a new survey that shows the Manchester attorney has an early and quite large lead over the competition in the Republican primary this far out.

The firm Strategic National polled 940 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents on January 19th. What they found is that Lamontagne would earn 37% of the vote if the election were held today compared to John Stephen’s 14%, State Senator Jeb Bradley’s 13% and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas’ 4%.

What does it mean? Well, the results are speculative. Even political junkies like we at NH Journal admit it is way too early to allow a single poll to dictate the conventional wisdom. Lamontagne is coming off a statewide campaign, so his name identification is still high. Neither Bradley nor Gatsas have made any statewide moves to date. And a significant chunk of the Republican vote – 32% – remains undecided.

Still, the poll shows Lamontagne maintains a strong base of support after his Senate campaign and has an early leg up on his potential Republican rivals. For now, Lamontagne says he will continue to promote his conservative point of view through his newly-formed Granite Oath PAC.