Note: This is the first of a two-part series interviewing the candidates for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairmanship. Both candidates were given equal time and asked the same or similar questions. NH Journal’s interview with Jennifer Horn will be published subsequently.
It was a busy pre-Christmas day when we sat down with Andrew Hemingway at a Manchester Starbucks, which was bustling with Granite Staters combating the December chill with a hot cup of coffee. Hemingway, a social media entrepreneur who formerly chaired the Republican Liberty Caucus of NH and led Newt Gingrich’s presidential primary campaign, is eloquent on the new life he believes he can breathe into a struggling state Republican Party:
“I think that part of the problem Republicans are having is with branding – nobody really knows what it means to be a Republican. If Republicans don’t know what our brand is, that provides opportunities for Democrats to define what our brand is.”
When asked what he understands to be the role of the Party Chair, Hemingway said, “I think that what the Chair has to do is to understand the political climate and to formulate strategies to help their candidates and help the Party move forward,” going on to outline specific goals he would set for his administration, including starting new town committees, recruiting strong candidates, and improving fundraising.
Hemingway believes that each of these building blocks – candidate recruitment, grassroots activism, and fundraising prowess – are interconnected and come as the result of Republicans believing that the Party is being run competently. “People want to be on a winning team,” he explained, “so I think its essential to change the dynamic in the Party to be a winning organization.”
Speaking in greater detail about fundraising tactics, Hemingway expands on this dynamic. His first move would be to leverage the Party’s existing and former donor base – many of whom he believes may have pulled their money back in recent years – by creating a competent organization to restore donor confidence.
It’s also on the subject of fundraising that Hemingway elaborates on his strength online, offering two suggestions to enable the Party to raise money using the Internet. First, he says he would deploy date-gathering tactics like online petitions to create a database of like-minded potential donors and send around periodic asks for small-dollar contributions. “It costs no money,” he says, “and now we have people who are emotionally connected, and that has to continue to grow.”
Secondly, Hemingway articulates his belief that online tools could be used to raise money from fellow Republicans across the country, given New Hampshire’s unique status as the First-in-the-Nation Primary state.
Addressing an issue that has plagued recent Chairs, we asked Hemingway if he would consider enforcing the Party platform as part of his role, to which he answered in the affirmative, stating that he would focus on recruiting and helping candidates that were in agreement with the majority of the platform:
“This isn’t about you and your one singular vote,” he said, referring to Republican candidates and legislators, “it’s about all of us [Republicans] and I think those conversations need to occur”
That being said, Hemingway notes that the Republican platform is not especially specific in many areas, creating a large umbrella for those who identify as Republican: “We are a party of big ideas and big things, and our platform absolutely portrays that.”
Finally, Hemingway gives his take on combating the internal fractures and factions within the Party that have been the subject of much dispute during the last several election cycles, both in the Granite State and nationwide. His approach begins with bringing representatives from across the spectrum of the party to the table and finding out which each group is trying to achieve rather than allowing groups to stereotype each other.
“If I am successful at becoming the next Party Chair, there will be a number of people who will have voted against me and I need to bring them to the table…there is no more crucial time for Republicans to start coming together.”
Amelia Chasse contributed to this report.