Jack Kimball resigns as NHGOP chair
The meeting was called to order about 6:30 p.m. at the Concord Holiday Inn on North Main Street, when Kimball stood up and told the group he was resigning.
"This isn't about me," he said. "It never has been. There is no ego here. This party needs to be unified, and I will not stand in the way of that. So tonight, sadly, very sadly, because I'm not sure this is helping anything, I am tendering my resignation."
The committee accepted his resignation and adjourned the meeting, which had been in session only about 20 minutes.
After the meeting, Kimball, who had once vowed to fight against his removal and said he would not resign, acknowledged that he'd received "tremendous pressure" and even political "threats."
He said he decided to resign on Tuesday.
"This was a very difficult decision," he said. "I really, really cannot stand in the way any longer. People were looking at me as an obstacle to party unity and I don't want that."
Kimball denied that he'd agreed to any deal to resign in exchange for elected party leaders, including the three GOP members of the congressional delegation, finding $200,000 from national GOP organizations for the party, part of which would be used to retire any outstanding party debt.
"No, not at all," he said. "This really and truly, folks, was my own decision."
Steve Duprey, a Republican National Committee member who was among those who initiated moves to remove Kimball from office, said he was surprised by Kimball's resignation.
"I had no advance knowledge," he said. "I do respect him for doing so."
Duprey said that, according to the party's bylaws, the vice chairman, Wayne McDonald, will take over as chairman.
The calls to oust Kimball began last month, when he fired former executive director Will Wrobleski and admitted that he signed a petition to allow a Libertarian candidate on the ballot. Some GOP leaders have also questioned his ability to handle the media and his fundraising ability, though Kimball noted recently that he'd helped the party raise about $193,000 since he'd become chairman.
Duprey said Kimball was an energetic man who wasn't right for the job.
"Let me start by saying that Jack Kimball is a decent, hard-working guy," Duprey said. The move to remove him from office, "was certainly not for any lack of effort on his part. This is an extremely complicated job and this was about the basic, day-to-day management of the party."
Prior to the meeting, about 20 people gathered outside the hotel in support of Kimball. Most wore regalia of the Tea Party, which gave Kimball his base as he unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and was elected chairman of the New Hampshire GOP.
"Jack Kimball is taking this party in the right direction," said Cindy Howard of Claremont, who hugged Kimball before and after his announcement. "
"I'm not a Tea Party member. I'm here for what's ethically right," said Diana Lachance, Derry. "It's pretty bad when in our state we're fighting within our party."
From GraniteGrok: Video of Jack Kimball's resignation speech: