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State GOP Chairman Jeanie Forrester decides to step down

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 23. 2018 1:31AM
State GOP Chairman Jeanie Forrester has announced she will be stepping down from her post. (Courtesy)

CONCORD — In a surprise announcement, Republican State Chairman Jeanie Forrester announced she is stepping down next week to take an unidentified post in “local government.”

Forrester broke her own news in a brief letter to members of the Executive Committee Friday.

“I have been offered an opportunity to work with local government and, effective June 30, I will no longer serve as chairman of the Republican State Committee,” Forrester wrote.

“I have appreciated your support during my tenure and am proud of your commitment to the Republican Party.”

Gov. Chris Sununu, the man responsible for Forrester having held the state party post, offered nothing but high praise.

“Jeanie Forrester has enthusiastically led the New Hampshire Republican State Committee over the last 18 months, and her passion and leadership for advancing Republican candidates and causes have been second-to-none,” Sununu said in a statement. “While we will greatly miss Chairman Forrester, we look forward to her staying involved with the party in the months and years ahead.”

Forrester, a former state senator and 2016 candidate for governor, said she’ll remain active in party affairs.

“I look forward to staying involved in various campaigns to maintain that Republicans maintain and grow our majorities,” Forrester said.

Under party rules, Vice Chairman Wayne MacDonald of Derry takes over the top post until the state committee or its executive panel makes a more permanent pick.

Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley often tangled with Forrester on issues and tactics but paid tribute to her on Friday.

“I wish Jeanie well. Only someone who has served as state party chair can appreciate the challenges and sacrifices one makes to do the job,” Buckley said.

Michael Swetz is a regional field finance director with the Republican National Committee.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working for and with @JeanieForrester the past 18 months. We accomplished so much! Sad to see her go, but I wish her all the luck in her new role!” Swetz tweeted.

A Meredith resident, Forrester came to the state Senate after a career working in local government jobs, serving as town administrator in the Lakes Region, running Main Street revitalization programs and serving as a staffer to former Gov. John H. Sununu.

After losing the GOP primary in 2016, Forrester strongly endorsed Sununu. In response, he handpicked her to replace Jennifer Horn of Nashua as chairman of the state GOP.

Forrester set out to have the party sponsor more training sessions on candidate recruitment, volunteer support and other party-building functions.

Earlier this week she said the party fielded 50 young Republican candidates for elective office, more than at any time in history.

The more difficult challenge for Forrester was to rebuild the party’s financial structure that over time had fallen in large measure because the national GOP had stopped reliably subsidizing state party organizations here and in other key states.

The most recent filings this week showed the state GOP badly trailing Democrats in fundraising during recent months.

Early on in her tenure, some close to President Donald Trump’s organization complained the state GOP was not doing enough to back the White House and the President’s agenda.

But Forrester was chosen among a small, select group of state GOP chairmen to meet privately with Trump and members of his team at the White House to discuss strategy.

Over the past year, Forrester sent out many statements, and in public appearances repeatedly praised Trump’s policies ranging from tax reform, his federal spending fights with Congress, immigration and a host of other issues.

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