Steinhauser: Trump campaign wins fight over NH's GOP convention delegation
CONCORD – Donald Trump scored his first major victory in his drive for the GOP presidential nomination in early February in New Hampshire.
This week Trump's campaign in the Granite State won another major victory over the state’s Republican party.
A slate proposed by the campaign for crucial committee assignments for delegates attending July’s Republican convention in Cleveland was unanimously approved during a vote Friday morning at the NHGOP headquarters in Concord.
Seven of the nine names listed on the slate that passed were Trump delegates and Trump’s national campaign manager, Windham resident Corey Lewandowski, was approved chairman of the state’s delegation to the convention.
Friday’s meeting and vote was called by state party chair Jennifer Horn after she cancelled an earlier vote that took place last weekend into Monday morning.
The first vote was scrubbed after angry complaints from top Trump campaign officials in New Hampshire over the slate proposed by the state party, which didn’t include a single Trump delegate. They also complained over the last minute announcement of the state party slate, which was made over the weekend, and they questioned the validity of the vote, which was by email.
Since the fireworks on Sunday and Monday, Trump convincingly won Indiana’s crucial Republican primary on Tuesday, which led to both Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to end their bids for the White House. That left Trump the last candidate standing and the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.
On Monday state Rep. Steve Stepanek of Amherst, the Trump campaign chairman in New Hampshire, told NH1 News the state party proposed slate “was a real slap in the face to everybody who’s worked so hard for the Donald Trump campaign.”
And Stepanek, as he’s done in the past, called on Horn to resign.
“She Is not somebody who’s fair and impartial and I think her judgement is being clouded by her obsession with Donald Trump and I think she should step down as party chair person,” he said.
But Friday, following the vote, he sounded much more conciliatory.
“I am focused on bringing the party together. I’m not going to be asking for any republican's resignation at this point in time. I’m asking for republicans to unite behind Donald Trump and the entire Republican ticket here in the state of New Hampshire.”
The Trump campaign's co-chairman in New Hampshire wasn't as conciliatory.
“Personally a day late and a dollar short," said state Rep. Fred Doucett of Salem. “We’re sick of the establishment and we’re sick of the back room deals.”
The Trump slate
Besides Lewandowski as delegation chairman, longtime RNC committeeman Steve Duprey was approved for the convention’s Rules Committee. With the Rules Committee holding jurisdiction over the primary calendar, it makes sense that Duprey, who’s served many years on the national party’s Rules Committee and who has long led efforts to keep New Hampshire first-in-the-nation, would be included in the convention’s Rules Committee.
Stepanek told NH1 News on Thursday that Duprey was put on the convention Rules committee on the Trump proposed slate “so he can continue his valiant efforts to make sure that we stay the first-in-the-nation primary.
Stepanek's on the Platform Committee, along with the other New Hampshire member of the RNC, committeewoman Juliana Bergeron.
"She (Bergeron) worked very hard with me to put this slate together,” Stepanek said. “Her experience and knowledge will be invaluable at the convention in working with the national party.”
The remaining assignments all go to Trump delegates. Stepanek's wife, Ellen Suprunowicz-Stepanek, joins Duprey on the Rules Committee.
State Repl Al Baldasaro and his wife Judy are slated for the Credentials Committee, with Doucette and Paula Johnson on the Permanent Organization Committee.
All 11 Trump delegates voted for their campaign's slate, as did Bergeron and Duprey. So did Horn, former U.S. Sens. Bob Smith (a Cruz delegate) and Gordon Humphrey (a Kasich delegate)
Seven non-Trump convention delegates did not take part in the vote. They were former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien, who's said that he won't support Trump, former U.S. Sen. John E Sununu, former state Attorney General Tom Rath, Melissa Stevens, Jim Merrill, Jim Adams and Gordon MacDonald.
Horn put out a statement on Thursday saying “the voters in New Hampshire have spoken, and they have selected Donald Trump and the Republican nominee for President of the United States. I want to congratulate Mr. Trump on his victory and look forward to working with his team to unify our party.”
Horn voted by phone instead of attending in person.
Asked why she didn't vote in person, Stepanek said "she’s got a busy schedule. I have no idea why she didn’t show up but she did call in for the vote and she voted to support the slate and that’s the important thing."
As for the seven who didn't vote, Stepanek said "there’s a lot of people out there who’ve been very passionate about their candidate and they’re very disappointed in the loss and it takes time to heal those wounds. I would be very disappointed right now if Donald Trump had lost to Ted Cruz."
After voting, Bergeron spoke with NH1 News.
Asked if this vote heals the deep divisions in the party, she said "I don’t this completely heals them but I think it’s a good start and I think we’re working on it. We’re working on uniting the party in New Hampshire."
But Stevens, who was pledged to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, disagreed.
In a tweet, she wrote "in typical Trump fashion it was our way or the highway. This is a sad day for NHGOP."
Meanwhile, Stepanek said that former Gov. John H. Sununu, who was a vocal critic of Trump in the months leading up to the February primary, is going to back Trump.
"Gov. Sununu, I’ve talked to. He’s going to be supporting Donald Trump. He’s going to be voting for Donald Trump," Stepanek said.