Politics
Politics

Mitt Romney Wins New Hampshire Straw Poll; Ron Paul 2nd

| by Reason Foundation

By Brian Doherty

Where are all those hideously frightening calls about the 2012 presidential race coming from? They're coming from your own house!!!

Yes, like it or not, the presidential race has kinda-sorta begun, and there's something a little encouraging about the results of a WMUR/ABC New Hampshire straw poll conducted at this weekend's meeting of the state Republican Party.

273 attending delegates participated in the poll, which Mitt Romney, following the GOP's frequent pattern of nominating the "next guy in line" (though Sarah Palin has a fairer claim to next, although she could be seen to have been jumped in line by McCain in picking her as his veep choice in 2008) dominated with 35 percent.

But the New Hampshire GOP meeting attendees second choice? Ron Paul, with 11 percent, beating such much more talked up choices as former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty with 8, and Palin herself with 7. (Gingrich and Huckabee both languish tied for 3 percent.)

The results of the actual substantive votes by the state Republican Party in New Hampshire at this weekend meeting, and some other state action elsewhere, are seen by Politico as a sign of the rise of Tea Party types in positions of statewide power in the GOP:

Saturday’s victory by tea party favorite Jack Kimball in the New Hampshire GOP chairman’s race provided the most significant evidence to date that the energy that activists brought to the midterms is now being channeled in a different direction—one that could reshape the 2012 GOP presidential race and require candidates to rethink the traditional approaches to winning the Republican nomination.

Already the selection of a Glenn Beck man over a Goldwater girl for state party chair is sending tremors through the GOP establishment in the first-in-the-nation primary state. New Hampshire’s Republican political class, always vigilant in guarding and nurturing the state’s key role in the business of electing presidents, is fearful that Kimball’s unyielding conservatism could alienate prospective GOP presidential contenders who might decide to bypass the state and therefore diminish its influence in the nominating process.

New Hampshire isn’t the only place where the forces of tea party activism are colliding with the establishment in struggles for control of the GOP apparatus.

Aside from Kimball, two other tea party-affiliated candidates knocked off establishment picks to win state party chairmanships Saturday—radio talk show host Kirby Wilbur in Washington state and conservative activist Tom Morrissey in Arizona. A third GOP chairman elected Saturday, Oregon’s Allen Alley, didn’t hail from the grassroots conservative populist wing of the party but he aggressively courted it—and his message of tight-fisted spending appealed to tea party activists.


Kimball said, then backpedaled, that he'd make things uncomfortable for campaigning GOP presidential hopefuls in his state who didn't sport Tea Partyesque bonafides. In a contest of pretty much anyone vs. the GOP establishment, I know whose side I'm on.