Apr 30, 2016 8:10 AM

Steinhauser: NHGOP chair 'not at all' worried about primary challenge to Ayotte or possible Trump drag on GOP ticket

NH1 News Political Director

NASHUA – New Hampshire’s Republican Party chair isn’t concerned that having Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket will be a drag on crucial down ballot races in the Granite State.

And in an interview with NH 1 News, Jennifer Horn also aid she’s “not at all” worried that former state Sen. Jim Rubens’ primary challenge against Sen. Kelly Ayotte will be a distraction as the Republican incumbent prepares to try and fend off Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan in the general election.

As Donald Trump was sweeping all five primaries on Tuesday by overwhelmingly large margins over his two remaining rivals for the GOP nomination, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley was almost giddy at the prospects of Trump dragging down the rest of the GOP ticket in November.

Buckley made his comments as a guest during live prime time coverage by NH1 News of Tuesday’s primaries. And state and national Democrats have spent months trying to tie Ayotte and other Republicans running this year in the Granite State to Trump.

But Horn, in an interview for Sunday’s NH1 Newsmakers, said “I’m not concerned about our efforts here in New Hampshire at all. We have a really strong ground game. The party has been building our operation for the past three years. As far as the top of the ticket goes, we’ll go into the convention, whoever wins the nomination is going to have the support of the party.”

“In the end I think we’re going to get a lot of good Republicans elected here in New Hampshire,” she added.

Horn was critical of Trump late last year, describing as “un-American” the GOP front runner’s call for a temporary “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States. At the time, two of Trump’s biggest New Hampshire supporters, state Reps. Steve Stepanek and Al Baldasaro, called on Horn to resign from her post for criticizing Trump because they said she wasn’t being neutral in the presidential primary.

Asked if the past tensions with Trump’s Granite State supporters was water under the bridge, Horn said “you’d have to ask them if it’s still an issue. For me it’s never been an issue.”

“There are good people who have supported all of these candidates. People are passionate about the folks they want to see become the next president of the United States. My focus has always been what’s best for New Hampshire, what’s best for the New Hampshire Republican Party. And I’m always willing to work with all comers. Anybody who wants to get good Republicans elected in New Hampshire, I want them on my team,” she continued.

When it comes to Rubens’ primary challenge, it’s pretty clear that Horn is backing the incumbent.

“Everybody has a right to run. That’s the way it is in America. We embrace that here in New Hampshire. But Sen. Ayotte has done an outstanding job. And I’ll stay that over and over again,” Horn said.

Horn’s serving her second term as NHGOP chair. Asked if she intends to run for a third term come January, she told NH1 News “right now 100% of my focus is getting Republicans elected in November.”

Asked again if she’s considering a re-election bid, Horn said “I’m not even thinking about where that’s going to go right now. I really feel very very strongly that this is one of those elections that going to go down in history as the election of our lifetime.”

Watch the entire interview Sunday at 11:30am and 10:30pm on NH1 Newsmakers on WBIN-TV

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