By Sandy Geisler
As a long-standing Republican volunteer who has held multiple positions in the state party and knows a great deal about the party’s history with the multitude of its stakeholders, I am providing the insight I KNOW concerning the NHGOP election on January 28th.
While some might say the Republican party in NH is in “a good place,” others have a very different view and perspective. Over the past few election cycles, I’ve seen a decline in people’s faith in the NHGOP and its leadership. This decline is not just happening in NH; it is occurring across this great nation, many of which are described as “uniparty” nationally. Having had hundreds of conversations with people over the last four years, I can conclusively state that the NHGOP is failing on many fronts and desperately needs fundamental change that doesn’t include doing the same old thing with the same old people (a.k.a., going along to get along.) If you don’t believe there are issues, you are NOT listening (as was the case in the Londonderry local Republican committee.) Undoubtedly, taking the time to listen to people to understand their views has been remiss in the state party leadership. With the election less than a week away, it is time to think about the role the NHGOP plays and what is needed to ensure communication, messaging, trust, restore belief, party growth, fundraising, and unity. YES, REAL UNITY! The NH Republican party is split and broken, so it will take a group of remarkable individuals who stay true to the party’s platform (principles) to unite and find a way to reach common ground.
There are currently two individuals running for party chair with different backgrounds, skill sets, and motivating factors. Will Chris Ager or Lou Gargiulo be able to restore faith and belief in the party, bring in new people (which would include young people which the Dems have the corner on) and donors? While I respect both men, there is a difference to note on the path taken to run for the position of NHGOP chair. Chris ran for NH National Committeeman two years ago, knowing it was a four-year term. With two years left of the four, Chris decided to run for the chair to eliminate Steve Stepanek (he said), who is the current NHGOP Chair. When Steve announced he was not running again, what was Chris’s motivation to continue? On the other side is Lou Gargiulo. As early as late last summer, Lou got approached by many grassroots patriots to run for the position of chair. Lou was very thoughtful with his approach and decision-making. He thought about it and talked to many of his volunteers, supporters, and newly elected representatives. While still deciding, he told me he needed to know he had the “Live Free or Die” people behind him. (This was after experiencing a grueling NH Senate run in a district the 2021-2022 Senate/Legislature re-districted him out of, and the NHGOP wrote off as “unwinnable.”)
Lou is a former state representative, was the state chair for candidate Donald Trump, is a current selectman, and is a successful CEO of his own company. Lou listens and works to find solutions with people; he is thoughtful, resourceful, filled with ideas, easy to work with, and always willing to talk with anyone. During his run for the state senate (primarily self-funded), he built an incredible team of volunteers, a united, motivated, and cohesive group that worked on his campaign and stood alongside him. In contrast, Chris is retired but has held various positions within his community and the NHGOP structure.
The most significant distinction between the two candidates I see is discernment and possessing sound judgment. As a leader, one should never disparage others, especially those with different abilities (for example, people with support animals). Doing so once can be excused; doing so throughout two election cycles shows a lack of judgment and discernment. Leaders have to lead by example. I finally heard too much from folks on this issue and called the person leading the charge with these statements. Unfortunately, the person I needed to confront was the sitting national committeeman. Good leaders have a strong sense of self-awareness and humility. The best leaders are humble and understand their own personal shortcomings because it motivates them to have things to work on, work towards, and do better.
It is no hidden secret how much money the Democrats can raise. For the NHGOP to operate at an optimal capacity and level, lots of cash is needed. (I sat on the NHGOP executive board when we faced real financial hardships and had to make some difficult decisions.) As an entrepreneur, Lou has built a very successful business. Lou has established relationships, contacts, and connections within NH and well outside of NH to be a highly successful fundraiser. As National Committeeman, Chris has met with folks outside of NH, but will those other state committee folks be willing to help NH raise money? Does he have a proven track record of fundraising like Lou has?
While many want to line pockets from playing politics, the state parties must have money to operate and to see real change in NH; we need to step up our game and strategy big-ly! What concrete plans does each candidate have? This question needs firm answers because it is a crucial element of the role of the chair. The chair is eligible to be compensated. One man, Lou, has stated he will forgo any compensation. Will Chris do the same? A million dollars in fundraising equals a $100,000 payment to the chair.
Both Chris and Lou are good men, but they have different paths for deciding to run and different qualities to bring to the leadership role of party chair. One man is firm in his convictions, and the other frequently plays the typical politician role. The party has changed, and a new type of leader is needed. Questions (many hard ones) need asking, and those questions should not vary based on the audience or person the candidate is facing.
Will the state committee members elect more of the same on January 28th? Will the choice be to go with a new leader that will be strong and able to lead the state in a much-needed new direction? Are you ready to see some real Republican change for NH?
I really hope NH puts an end to the same ol’ same ol’ from the Grand Old Party.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Liberty Block or any of its members. We welcome all forms of serious feedback and debate.