The following is an op-ed from Wayne MacDonald, outgoing chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party:
I never planned to be Chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. I have sincerely enjoyed my involvement with the Party over the years and just sought out new ways as time passed to serve. Those “ways” ended up becoming the rungs on the ladder that took me from being the Chairman of the Londonderry Republican Town Committee to being State Chairman, with numerous stops in between. Chairman Warren Henderson resigning in 2006, Chairman Jack Kimball resigning in 2011 and Chairman Jeanie Forrester resigning in 2018 resulted in surprised tours of duty in an office I always admired, but had not coveted.
As I look back on these periods that I have been honored with the Chairmanship, I do have some thoughts to share. I want to thank NHJournal for this opportunity to do so.
There has been serious discussion for about a decade regarding the Chairmanship being a full time, paid position. Particularly after this past cycle, this idea makes abundant sense. The question persists as to whether the New Hampshire Republican State Committee will ever raise the kind of money that makes this possible, without sacrificing staff positions and support for candidates and programs. It will benefit the next Chairman immensely that they will have a full term to chart the course in which they want to lead the Party. It was always a definite handicap to come in after the tenor of the term had been established.
Regardless of the circumstances however, it’s important that any candidate for the office realize the job is full time, with or without pay. The hours that the Chairman spends interacting with the staff, media and others in the course of a typical day and week easily equals–and usually surpasses–eight or forty hours, respectively. Because most Chairmen to date have worked at a regular job, myself included, the times devoted to the Chairmanship are mixed in with that other job and not visible to the public and Party activists.
Raising money will be difficult, even during the best of times. The notion that there is a “pot of gold” with New Hampshire’s name on it in some as yet undisclosed location, is inaccurate.
Equally incorrect is the notion that the Party organization will flourish by simply taking a sharp turn in a particular ideological direction and demanding that everyone who wants to have an “R” next to their name follow suit. Our Party is large and diverse and needs to be, if it’s going to be successful. We will not elect senators and representatives and other public officials in sufficient numbers across this very diverse state to be in the majority and remain there if we adopt a narrow and polarizing political philosophy. Financial success for the Party will come only as the result of effective public policy and service, prudent Party spending, well run events, a good mail program and online program and a good solicitation effort.
Good media relations and good internal communications (newsletters, e-mails, etc.) are critical to the overall success also. The development and support of local committees and county committees are crucial. Everything can’t be run from Concord, nor should it be. Local and county committees need to understand how important they are in the goal of furthering Republican objectives and electing our candidates. That means being fully involved in the candidate recruitment process and helping to support the candidates politically and financially.
Again, everything cannot be done by the State Party, which is really the Chairman and however many staffers who are there (and there are never enough).
The off year is when the grassroots organizing, candidate recruiting and the bulk of the fundraising for the election year need to take place. The eight months prior to the September primary don’t afford an adequate amount of time to leave it all until then. Unfortunately, this is what often happens.
I have said over the years, both seriously and jokingly, that the only real job of the State Chairman is to keep everyone happy at the same time which is, of course, impossible. I suspect that there have been times when every Chairman has felt this was the expectation, and I will be surprised if the next Chairman doesn’t feel the same way.
I wish my successor and the Party the best and intend to be involved for many years to come.