Sullivan Republicans Regroup for 2014

Claremont — The 2014 House and Senate elections may be a long way off but Sullivan County Republicans believe now is the time to begin building local organizations that can effectively deliver the GOP message.

With their sights clearly set on rebounding in 2014 from a disastrous showing last November, the consensus among a dozen Republicans who met for about an hour last night was the need for more grassroots organization.

Among those in attendance was Matt Slater of Manchester, the new executive director of the state Republican State Party.

Slater said the upcoming special election to fill the seat of Tom Donovan, D-Claremont, who was elected in November but resigned earlier this year, is a golden opportunity for Republicans to work harder at the local level.

“The state party is going to invest heavily in the race,” Slater said, hoping for an equal effort in the city. “It is vital for Claremont and heading into 2014. The main thing the state party is asking for is time, knocking on doors and talking to neighbors. If we get the right people to the polls, we can take this thing.”

Former state Reps. Joe Osgood, R-Claremont, and Larry Converse, D-Claremont, are on the ballot for the city’s Ward II district June 4th election.

Slater said Osgood’s election can serve as a foundation for forming a committee and keeping voters engaged.

Republicans took a drubbing statewide last November and the Sullivan County House delegation went from a 9-4 Republican majority to a 10-3 Democratic majority.

Spec Bowers, a Sunapee Republican who was defeated in his re-election bid and is currently the chairman of the county Republican committee, said last night that the formation of town committees is a critical component of getting the party’s message to the voters.

“I have wanted to create town committees for months,” Bowers said. “This (special election) is a good opportunity because we have to get people organized.

“We need more Republicans to know that there is a Republican committee in Sullivan County and it is getting better organized.”

Rob Casper, of Walpole, the party’s vice chairman for Cheshire and Sullivan counties, said it is not necessary to have one committee for each town.

“Group towns together. You can organize that way,” Casper said. “Just get something going on the grassroots level.”

Casper said the party is improving its website and using better technology to attract new voters. Furthermore, there is a long-term goal to build the party’s own database of voters rather than rely on the national party.

Bowers pointed to the county delegation that last year passed a tax cut for the county budget as an example of the Republicans fulfilling their low-tax pledge but not getting credit for it.

“The Republicans passed a tax cut in Sullivan County and more Republicans don’t know that. It was tiny, but it was better than an increase.”

Slater said after the meeting that he will keep the focus on grassroots politics.

“It is vital to the growth of the party,” he said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at