BRISTOL — The same day Andrew Hemingway became the first and so far the only Republican candidate for governor, the University of New Hampshire Survey Center reported that eight of 10 voters have never heard of him — so he has some work to do.
Hemingway, 31, describes himself as an "entrepreneur," but is best known in political circles, where he served as chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire and ran unsuccessfully for the chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party.
Born and raised in Plymouth, Hemingway said yesterday that he attended Calvary Christian School and upon graduation enrolled at Ambassador Baptist College in Lattimore, North Carolina, which was founded by the evangelist Ron Comfort in 1989 with the mission of preparing men and women spiritually and academically for the ministry.
Hemingway said that he did not graduate, but while at college started his first business, a window washing company, which he sold his interest in to his partner.
Hemingway married and joined the financial services department of a large insurance firm, rising to the position of sales manager in six months before returning to New Hampshire to assist his father-in-law with his dry cleaning business in Derry and janitorial service in Bristol.
Then, in 2006 he opened Hemingway Insurance Services, selling agricultural policies among other lines, which he said led him to appreciate the role of farming in the New Hampshire economy. Although the trade name remains registered, the business never filed an annual report with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
Not long afterward, Hemingway launched the first of several digital projects, Online Sports Coaching, LLC, which offered web-based videos to train parents and volunteers in coaching youth soccer. After selling elements of the business but retaining sole ownership, he began applying technology to politics with Digital Acumen, a political communications enterprise, which enabled Hemingway to enlist six of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates in the first Twitter debate. Most recently Hemingway debuted Grassloot, an on-line platform to support the fundraising campaigns of political and nonprofit organizations.
Hemingway served on the Budget Committee in Bristol from 2007 to 2010, the last two years as chairman, when he says the budget was reduced by 30 percent and the property tax rate dropped to its lowest level in 40 years.
As chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus he contributed to the electoral success of the GOP in 2010, when the party won commanding majorities in both houses of the New Hampshire Legislature, which included members who shared Hemingway's libertarian values. In 2012 he was less successful as the state director of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign.
Hemingway told The Daily Sun he expects he will need to raise about $1.5 million to mount a competitive gubernatorial campaign against incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan. He indicated that he has the personal resources to support the effort, adding "I'll be contributing heavily to the campaign as we need it."
At the same time, he said, the role of independent groups in funding candidates would be a significant variable in the upcoming election season.
Hemingway and his wife Katie and daughter Morgan, six, and son Connor, four, live in Bristol. They attend the Hill Village Baptist Church where he is superintendent of the Sunday School.