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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Kevin Smith to be named Londonderry's new town manager, out of running for Gov

By John DiStaso
Senior Political Reporter

July 31. 2013 1:05PM

WEDNESDAY, JULY 31: BIG JOB FOR KEVIN. Republican activist Kevin Smith can be scratched from statewide elective politics for 2014 and most likely for the foreseeable future.

Smith, the Granite Status has learned, is about to be named the new Londonderry town manager. An official announcement could come Thursday night during a town council meeting.

The Granite Status has learned from several sources that the appointment is imminent.

Smith, 36, a 2012 candidate for governor and former executive director of the conservative Cornerstone Policy Research advocacy group, moved to Londonderry with his family from Massachusetts when he was a young boy.

He is a graduate of Londonderry High School and the University of New Hampshire-Manchester and is well-known in Londonderry. Smith lives in Litchfield with his wife and three children.

Smith served in the state House from 1996 to 1998, representing Londonderry.

In his first venture into statewide elective politics last year, he lost to Ovide Lamontagne in the Republican gubernatorial primary, but had been expected to consider running again in 2014 or in ensuing years.

That's obviously changed now.

Smith Wednesday declined to comment on this report.

Town Council Chairman John Farrell also declined to comment, but said an update on the town manager's search is scheduled for the Thursday council meeting.

Smith is a former staff aide to former Gov. Craig Benson and was assistant director of the state Division of Juvenile Justice in the mid-2000s.

He joined Cornerstone in 2009 and grew the organization into a key player in State House debate on fiscal and social issues.

His exit from the 2014 statewide political scene leaves a vacuum in potential GOP candidates to take on Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan next year. Executive Councilor Chris Sununu said less than two weeks ago he will not run for governor or any higher office next year, but will instead seek reelection to the executive council.

It is unclear at the moment what Smith's salary will be as town manager. Former town manager David Caron earned $124,260 last year. Caron resigned the post in July of 2012, citing a family illness.

Since then, William Hart, the police chief, has been the interim town manager.

The state Democratic Party said Smith's exit from the 2014 statewide political scene shows the state Republican Party "is in shambles."

"Voters have had it with the Republican brand and agenda," which is "extreme and radical," said Democratic spokesman Harrell Kirstein.

Republican Party executive director Matt Slater responded, "Londonderry made a outstanding choice for this important job, and Kevin would be crazy to pass up such a great opportunity for him and his family.

"Republicans will have strong candidates on the ballot in 2014 who will hold Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan, Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster accountable for their fiscally irresponsible agendas and defeat them on election day," said Slater.

(See earlier Granite Status reports on this web page or by clicking on "Granite Status" above.)

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