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Top N.H. Republican Party Official Won’t Vote for Pawlenty

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Mitt Romney’s hold on New Hampshire just got a little tighter.

An ally of the former Massachusetts governor and likely 2012 presidential candidate has just been appointed to a key position in the New Hampshire Republican Party.

Will Wrobleski, who served as Romney’s state coalitions director in the 2008 cycle, will be the next executive director for the state GOP, according to an announcement distributed late Monday by newly elected party Chairman Jack Kimball.

Roll Call chatted with Wrobleski last week at a reception for the Merrimack County Republican Committee featuring Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in Concord, N.H., before his new position had been finalized. At that time, it was clear that Wrobleski, the former campaign manager for unsuccessful Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne, had little interest in Pawlenty.

“He’s a nice guy. But there’s a number of guys I’d vote for. He’s not one of them,” Wrobleski said of Pawlenty. “I don’t think he’s conservative enough.

At the Monday night reception, Wrobleski politely declined to pose in a group picture with the former Minnesota governor, who’s expected to seek the presidency in 2012. Pawlenty has been among the most active prospective presidential candidates in New Hampshire to date, having visited the Granite State six times since last winter, culminating in a two-day tour last week.

Romney, meanwhile, has been noticeably absent from New Hampshire so far, although he quietly met with Manchester business leaders Monday. His first formal appearance comes at a dinner for the Carroll County Republican Committee on March 5.

Wrobleski told Roll Call that Romney “still has a tremendous amount of support in the state.” And he said he was “very strongly considering” working for Romney again.

Romney, who owns a vacation home in the Granite State and previously served as governor in neighboring Massachusetts, dominated a straw poll of Granite State Republican leaders in late January, drawing 35 percent. Pawlenty earned just 8 percent and was bested by second-place finisher, Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s 11 percent.

Some New Hampshire operatives believe the Republican race for the first-in-the-nation primary is largely wide open. Read a full on-the-ground report here.

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