Jack Be Nimble
When I first heard that Jack Kimball was running for chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, I recall thinking that he actually had a reasonable shot at winning the position. As a gubernatorial candidate during the 2010 midterm elections, Kimball seemed to connect with conservative activists in the state, and notably made a lasting impression on them with his feisty performance in the party’s televised primary debate. Still, it was fascinating to see the national, tea party-enhanced split that exists between movement conservatives and institutional elites in the Republican Party replicated in the local balloting here on Saturday.
Even though tea party activists often talk about the ideological diversity of their group’s membership, I continue to believe that the true political power within the tea party movement rests with social and religious conservatives like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Jim DeMint, rather than with Ron Paul libertarians. Given that Mitt Romney and Ron Paul were the top two finishers in the presidential straw poll also conducted at the party meeting, I can’t help but wonder whether despite Kimball’s victory, the tea party’s core political dynamic will continue to be an uneasy fit for the New Hampshire GOP, and especially for the politics of its presidential primary.
Note: Back posting on Wednesday. -Dean

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