Former state Senator Jeanie Forrester is poised to become the next chair of the state Republican Party.
The Meredith Republican is the only candidate running to replace outgoing chair Jennifer Horn at Saturday’s annual party meeting in Derry.
Forrester is a three-term state Senator and also ran for governor last year. She spoke to NHPR’s Morning Edition heading into this weekend’s vote.
Last November’s election was good for Republicans when it comes to the Statehouse – first GOP governor elected in more than a decade, control of both chambers. But you also now have an entirely Democratic Congressional delegation. How do you translate the success you saw in state races to Congressional seats?
I think there was a great focus with the New Hampshire GOP mostly on state races. Going into the next election, 2018, we are going to actively pay attention to the federal races, and try to pick up at least one seat if not both seats. And that means finding good candidates. That means doing a lot of fundraising so that we can put those resources, both human and financial, towards the candidates who are going to run in those races.
The current chair Jennifer Horn faced backlash during the primary process when she publicly criticized some of Donald Trump’s comments. She called Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims un-American, for example. Many in the party called on her to resign.
Was Jennifer Horn wrong to come out the way she did against some of Trump’s comments?
I’m not here to really comment on Jennifer Horn. I think for myself, as the party chair I’m going to support the platform, support Republicans here in the state of New Hampshire, and of course support our president. We’re not always going to agree on all things. I didn’t agree obviously in the gubernatorial race with some of the positions that now Governor Sununu took, or for that matter, the other two candidates. But we have to figure out how we come together, what are the things that we can agree upon and work together and move forward.
You’ve been endorsed by Governor Chris Sununu, but last year’s primary did expose some pretty clear differences between you and the governor.
For example, you were highly critical of his vote while on the Executive Council for a state contract with Planned Parenthood. As party chair, will you be willing to call out Sununu when you disagree with him?
Governor Sununu and I have discussed this because we do disagree on issues when it comes to life, when it comes to Northern Pass. When I accepted this idea of running for this position, our conversation was one that he acknowledged, we both acknowledged that we were going to disagree, and that I am going to support the party platform.
There are now calls from President Trump for an investigation into what he says has been widespread voter fraud. Governor Sununu has said he’s in favor of reviewing voter regulations here in the Granite State. Do you see this as an issue?
I think that’s a good thing. Whenever we can help address issues that are of concern – you know, voting is one of your most precious rights – and when there is a concern, even by minority; there have been some who said it’s just a minority group of people who are pushing this agenda, but if you look across the spectrum of things that have happened in this country and in this state, we are about helping those minorities have a voice and there is a concern about voter fraud here in the state of New Hampshire and across the country. What I’ve heard recently is that the president’s spokesman said they were going to look at a study to see if this is happening and I think that’s a good thing. Transparency, sunlight is good for everyone. And then that will instill trust that the system is working the way it should be working.
But is there any evidence of widespread voter fraud here in the Granite State? There have been a handful of cases over the years, but is there evidence of this?
I know the time I was in the Senate, there were situations where people were in the state voting that perhaps should not have been voting in the state. I can tell you during the campaign when I stood at the polls in the general election and seeing cars drive up with Massachusetts plates or other out-of-state plates voting, it causes concern. Maybe it’s nothing, I don’t know, but I believe it’s something we need to look into.
Looking ahead to this weekend, there’s a proposal to have the party chair be a paid position. Would you be in support of that?
I would be in support of that. I’ve said that I’m 100 percent committed to this position. My goal going into this is to really run this like a business. This is a business. We’re in the business of getting Republicans elected here in the state of New Hampshire and on a federal level. And certainly when you have a paid position, you can focus more time on that and view it as a business.