Published DateALTON — The fault line dividing moderates and conservatives within the Republican Party has opened in Belknap County with the announcement of a new organization — Belknap County Conservative Republicans — alongside the Belknap County Republican Committee, which is the official arm of the state GOP.
Rep. Jane Cormier of Alton, co-founder of the group, insisted yesterday that she is not seeking to undermine the county GOP, but instead to ensure that "the voices of conservatives are heard and not muted or distorted. We will be working inside our party — the Republican Party — to ensure stronger conservative representation. We're not trying to make waves for any Republican organization," she said.
"We are about 65 strong," said Cormier, who will formally launch the organization by holding a "Family Fun Day" from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at Funspot in Laconia. The event is free to the public and will feature "everything American," including hot dogs and apple pie, while punctuating political discussion with entertainment, raffles and activities for children.
At the "Honor Your Oath" rally in Concord last weekend, Cormier told the crowd of her initiative and proclaimed "our goal is to flood our party, like it or not, with conservatives at the local level. That local level will move up to the county level and that county level," she continued, glancing over her shoulder at the Statehouse, "will move right back into this House. We need to flip this House!"
Cormier said that Belknap County Conservative Republicans will recruit candidates for both local and state offices. "I've been doing that for months," she said, adding that she welcomes primaries. "Competition is good," she remarked. "It keeps things honest." Although Cormier has no intention of leaving the GOP, she said that she no longer financially supports the county committee.
Cormier attributed the setbacks the GOP suffered in the 2012 elections to the failure of Republican, particularly conservative Republicans, and independent voters to go to the polls. "A lot of conservatives were sitting on the sidelines, " she said. "The moderate faction in the Republican Party is not truly representative of Republican voters. The Republicans can represent conservatives if conservatives get active."
The Belknap County Conservative Republicans, Cormier said, will encourage conservatives to become engaged in local government by running for seats on boards of selectmen, budget committees and school boards. She said that conservatives were very successful in strengthening their presence in Alton at the town elections in March. "They've totally usurped local government," she said. "That's where we can make a real difference."