While there is no doubt that Republicans improved their bench and have momentum, Sununu’s departure leaves a huge void for New Hampshire Republicans. He is a former governor and White House chief of staff, a sharp political mind who understands the big and little pictures in a state that will play a leading role in the 2012 presidential contest.
Sununu will be replaced Jan. 22. Local reports suggest that he’s privately supporting Cheshire County GOP Chairwoman Juliana Bergeron, who is on a short list of potential replacements and announced her bid Tuesday. The Republicans have paid off their debt, have engaged the local business community in their cause and have rejuvenated political action committees, Sununu said.
The state Democratic Party, however, enjoys a cash advantage going forward and has traditionally enjoyed a massive staffing advantage.
Sununu reports having 11 paid staffers through the midterms, while noting Democrats had closer to 50.
The wildcard in the future will be the effect of the 2012 presidential contest. Some Republican candidates already have staff on the ground in an effort to bolster grass-roots support in anticipation of the nation’s first presidential primary. Those staffing levels will only grow in the coming months, and it’s those resources that could help maintain the Republican momentum.
The happy recipient of national attention during presidential election cycles, the Hawkeye State is a place where state parties flourish. The Republican Party of Iowa, chaired by Republican National Committee member Matt Strawn, will be on the front lines as Obama’s potential 2012 opponents parade through the state.
Iowa Democrats came off a decent election in 2010, when they lost the gubernatorial and Senate races but held their majority of three seats to the GOP’s two seats in the House delegation, and they hope to coordinate with the Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America in 2012.
Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky will remain in place to lead the party. She’ll have her hands full since Iowa is expected to lose a seat in reapportionment. Obama will make a play to win Iowa’s seven electoral votes again, but Republicans who will get attention for attempting to win the critical party caucuses in January 2012 will have a shot given his tanking poll numbers there.
Tricia Miller contributed to this report.