Current Republican National Committeeman Chris Ager was elected the new chairman of the New Hampshire state GOP at the state party’s annual meeting Saturday, the same day his predecessor left office and joined Donald Trump’s Granite State campaign.
Ager defeated businessman Lou Gargiulo, who had the support of both Gov. Chris Sununu and RNC Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron, by a large 301-131 margin. His victory echoes the RNC committeeman race in 2020, when Ager handily won over incumbent Steve Duprey, the favorite of the state GOP establishment and who also had the governor’s endorsement.
“In the battle of the Chrises, it’s ‘Ager 2, Sununu 0,” one of Ager’s supporters quipped.
Sununu skipped Saturday’s GOP meeting, including the appearance by former President Donald Trump. Instead, he attended the exclusive Alfalfa Club black-tie dinner in Washington, D.C.
Both Ager and Gargiulo are conservatives from the party’s Trump base. But Ager also told NHJournal in a podcast interview last month he believed “candidate quality” — often a code phrase for “too close to Trump” — was a major problem for the Granite State GOP. He pledged to play a more active role in candidate recruitment in hopes of winning more seats in a state many of the committee members said they fear is trending blue.
Ager said the solution is the work and commitment of the people gathered in the room.
“We’re like the calvary,” Ager told the close to 500 Republicans gathered at Salem High School in his nomination speech. “We’ve got to stop [the Democrats] from destroying this country, and we’ve got to do it from the bottom up.”
Ager reiterated that message after the vote.
“I feel confident that I can work with the grassroots to make the transformational changes we need to win,” Ager told NHJournal.
Ager repeatedly emphasized the need for unity. He told Gargiulo he would like to see the seacoast businessman play a key role in the party going forward.
“The last thing I’d like to do is just say, “Everyone is welcome in our party,” Ager said as Trump looked on. “You all have a voice. No one will be pushed away. No one. We need to have a bigger tent, not a smaller tent.”
Trump began his hour-long speech by announcing that outgoing chairman Steve Stepanek will serve as a senior advisor to his campaign in New Hampshire. Stepanek was the first elected official to endorse Trump in 2016, and the reality TV star went on to easily win the primary.
But Stepanek’s close ally, outgoing Vice Chair Pamela Tucker announced she was endorsing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R-Fla.) likely candidacy.
“We all love Trump. I supported him both times he ran. But let’s win the presidency, and it’s going to take DeSantis to do that,” Tucker said.
The results of the NHGOP annual committee meeting elections:
Chairman Chris Ager
Vice Chair Ryan Terrell
Treasurer Alan Glassman
Asst Treasurer Jim MacEachern
Secretary Jane Lane
Asst Secretary Thad Riley
Regional Vice Chair 1 Mark Alliegro
Regional VC 2 Tanya Donnelly
Regional VC 3 Chris Buda
Regional VC 4 Conrad Schoeffter
Regional VC 5 JR Hoell