The prospective presidential candidates who showed up for the GOP cattle call in Nashua last weekend heeded the plea from state party chair Jennifer Horn to refrain from intraparty squabbles. Not so for the conservative activists who stuck around for Sunday’s alternative conference.
The “Summit of Grassroots Activists” was hosted by the 603 Alliance, a new political committee attempting to coalesce support among conservatives for a single presidential candidate and leverage that support to help the endorsed candidate win the party’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
The group plans to audition the candidates over the next six months (providing campaign and scheduling services for a fee) and then hold a caucus on October 17 to make an official endorsement.
Former House Speaker Bill O’Brien, identified as House Republican Leader by the N.H. GOP (rather than House Speaker Shawn Jasper or House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan), isn’t waiting around for the endorsement process to eliminate some candidates from consideration.
“Conservatives are likely going to win in Iowa and South Carolina, but moderate presidential candidates, the liberals in our party, look upon New Hampshire as their firewall,” O’Brien told the audience. “They know they have to win one of the first three.” And then he more-or-less named names.
Jeb Bush: “The candidates that are looking for New Hampshire to save them are those candidates who support Common Core and think they can get elected because they have a famous dynastic name.”
Chris Christie: “The candidates who hug Barack Obama because he showers federal dollars on their state.”
Marco Rubio: “The candidates who say one thing about illegal immigrants in New Hampshire and they’ll go back to Florida and give a speech in Spanish on Univision which they say something else, the opposite.”
Free State Project chair Aaron Day echoed O’Brien’s assessment. In a statement issued by Stark360, the super PAC he also chairs, Day said Bush represents “a dangerous mix of dynastic succession and paternalism. … We can’t survive another Bush.”
Day accused Christie of interfering in New Hampshire’s 2014 GOP primary by deploying Republican Governors Association resources to benefit gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein and U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown. ”He can take his bullying tactics and his corruption back to New Jersey,” Day said.
Steering committee member Andrew Hemingway set lofty goals for the group. “I believe that if we can get 500 people in October to come together and to do this, we can have an impact in the presidential election in New Hampshire, in the primary in February, …our goal will be to move 25,000 votes,” he said.
“250,000 people will vote in the upcoming presidential primary,” Hemingway continued. “If you start doing the math on that you can see that moving 25,000 voters may not win, but it is certainly going to give a massive boost to whoever that nominee is…”
The 603 Alliance plans to shield the names of those funding the group by partnering with a sister organization, the Conservative Business League of New Hampshire, explained former state Rep. Fran Wendelboe.
“The CBL is an LLC, that means we’re a business and any money that comes to us is our business, not the state’s business, not reporting on any campaign site and, I’ll be honest,” Wendelboe said, “we probably will be the primary funder of the 603 Alliance, which will be a political entity and have to report everything they do.”
Submitted by Fran Weldleboe