David Bernstein gets specific about just how much New Hampshire's Republican landscape has changed since 2008, when John McCain beat Mitt Romney and that nice old congressman who talked about the Fed slumped into fifth place. John Sununu is retiring after his (incredibly successful) comeback term running the state GOP. Judd Gregg has retired, taking with him the sturdiest Republican machine in the state.
New Hampshire Tea Partiers, in the afterglow of their 2010 success, are already looking for a conservative, populist candidate, says Andrew Hemingway, chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus, which endorsed more than 100 of the new Republican House members. "There's already been a shift in attention toward the presidential contest" among those activists, Hemingway says.
The state's establishment Republicans, on the other hand, will be looking for a more mainstream, electable candidate — one they hope will benefit from the large number of independents expected to vote in the Republican primary, with Obama's re-nomination a foregone conclusion.
.... Neither Kimball nor Bergeron are big enough players to immediately become power brokers, regardless of which of them wins the state party chairmanship in the mid-January vote. Meanwhile, political insiders say that neither Senator-elect Ayotte nor O'Brien seem inclined to assert themselves as kingmakers. The state party didn't even organize the traditional dinner, usually held a year before the primary, that has served in the past as a showcase for speeches from presidential candidates. Which means that, for the time being, it looks like an open market, with little centralized control over the endorsements and assistance from several hundred elected Republican lawmakers, organizers, and volunteers.