Published DateBARNSTEAD — "I have no problem with other groups forming up," said Alan Glassman, chairman of the Belknap County Republican Committee, in reaction to news of the forming of Belknap County Conservative Republicans, "My hope and expectation is that the actions this committee takes match the words they speak."
Earlier this month Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) and Don Walker of Barnstead announced that the Belknap County Conservative Republicans would debut with an all day event at Funspot on Sunday, May 18. Cormier has said that the group, which she counts at some 65 strong, aims "to flood our party with conservatives" while denying any intent to "undermine" or "make waves" for the GOP. At the same time, she said she has withdrawn her financial support from the county committee headed by Glassman.
Glassman wondered how Cormier could claim not to be weakening the party while withholding financial support "all in the same breath." He said that she is among several members of the county committee who chose not to sell tickets to the annual Lincoln Day Sunset Cruise aboard the M/S Mount Washington — which is actually held in late May, the single most important fundraiser staged by the county committee. In the last election cycle, the cruise, which draws Republicans and Independents from throughout the state and Northeast, raised enough to spend $15,000 promoting candidates in Belknap County while leaving the county committee with a healthy balance.
Glassman emphasized that the county committee supports all Republican candidates financially, either by contributing directly to their campaigns or by purchasing newspaper advertising for the entire GOP ticket. Not participating in the county committee's fundraising efforts, he said, jeopardizes the support it can muster for general election candidates.
"I am for party unity, pure and simple," Glassman declared. "The county committee represents all Republicans in Belknap County. And we're all conservatives," he continued, "in varying degrees, with a small 'C'." He is fond of saying that "there is no conservative party in New Hampshire — that's in New York — here we only have Republicans and Democrats."
Glassman and Cormier tangled over labels in the 2012 election when Cormier's lawn signs proclaimed her the "conservative" candidate. As Glassman tells it, he asked her to add the word "Republican" to the signs, reminding her of the line at the bottom of the placard reading "Paid for the Belknap County Republican Committee." Meanwhile, writing in the Weirs Times weekly newspaper, Cormier claimed that the party chairman told her to remove "conservative" from the signs, which she proudly refused to do.
Glassman welcomed Cormier's announcement that the Belknap County Conservative Republicans would be recruiting candidates. "If they want to recruit candidates, that's fine with me," he said. "I have no problem with the primary process," he continued. "Competition is a good thing."
He said that the county committee will also be recruiting candidates, stressing that "what is important in the primary is trying to elect someone who can elected in the general election. Winning in November is the ultimate goal."
Acknowledging the ideological differences within the GOP, Glassman said that the character and complexion of the party will be decided by the voters in the primaries. He stressed that as chairman of the county committee he is bound by the party's bylaws to remain strictly neutral in primary elections. "Contested primaries are fine as long as there is an understanding that after the primary we come together and support the Republican candidates. We can have our differences," he remarked, "but in the end we have to be unified."
"I would like to see more groups within the party," said Glassman, "especially local committees." The county committee, he said, has not sought to mute voices or stifle initiatives, but honors the First Amendment and maintains "an open mic."
"This is not about us and them," Glassman insisted. "I have no problem with the Belknap County Conservative Republicans as long as they are honest about their goals and not seeking to undermine the county or state Republican committees."