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May 17. 2012 1:05PM

Binnie won't run for governor, but may endorse in GOP primary

MANCHESTER _ Republican businessman Bill Binnie, who heads WBIN television in Derry and was a U.S. Senate candidate in 2010, has decided not to run for governor this year.

Binnie said he had strongly considered running to try to succeed the outgoing Gov. John Lynch, but he cited business considerations and his work for the Republican Party in saying he won't be a candidate.

With two conservatives running in the GOP gubernatorial primary, there appears to be an opening for a more moderate Republican in the primary race, especially a business person. But Binnie said it won't be him.

“I hope at some point in the future to run for public office,” Binnie told UnionLeader.com in an interview Thursday.

“I am very committed to WBIN,” he said, and, as finance chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, “I am very committed to completing the successful transformation of the NHGOP to financial heath.”

He said his television station's sales and staff are growing.

“But I know that after 30 years of turning around companies and building businesses, at this early stage is critical to make sure that it's on solid ground. It would be premature to leave,” Binnie said.

He said the GOP finances “are now much, much better. We are now out of debt.”

After a major fund-raiser on May 30, “We will be able to successfully say we are out of the woods and now it's down to the ordinary course of running the party without looking over our shoulder with financial problems.”

He said he has been “humbled and encouraged by a lot of ordinary voters who said they would endorse me, as well as some who are in the highest offices of elective politics in the state. It made me look at it very seriously.”

“The decision to run is a deeply personal one for me and my family and the timing wasn't right,” Binnie said.

Binnie finished a distant third in the 2010 U.S. Senate GOP primary behind Kelly Ayotte and Ovide Lamontagne. He said he may now get involved in the Republican primary for governor shaping up between Lamontagne and Kevin Smith.

But if he does endorse a candidate, he would have to step down from his current post as finance chairman of the NHGOP. The party's by-laws are clear:

“No officer of the (Republican State) Committee shall participate in any primary contest on behalf of any candidate for a Republican nomination. They shall remain strictly neutral in any such primary contest. Any officer of the committee must resign from his or her office to engage in activities on behalf of a candidate in a primary contest.”

The officers of the party include the finance chairman under the bylaws.

Binnie said he “will look hard at whether I actually join other campaigns and actually endorse people. But there are people I will be working very hard to get elected.”

They include, he said, state Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, and state Rep. John Hikel, R-Goffstown, who is involved in a party primary against state Rep. Phil Greazzo, for the state Senate District 20 seat GOP nomination.

“It's very likely I'll go to Charlie Bass' aid,” Binnie said of the 2nd District congressman.

Lamontagne issued a statement calling former opponent Binnie “an accomplished business and civic leader” and “ a man of character and conviction.”

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