Manoney looks to protect N.H. Primary status
Sean Mahoney, seen in Portsmouth on Monday afternoon, was recently elected the state representative to the Republican Party. He said one of his priorities is to convince the rest of the nation that New Hampshire should be No. 1 on candidates’ campaign agendas.(Photo/Jackie Riccardi)

PORTSMOUTH -- Protecting New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary status is first on the to-do list for newly elected Republican National Committeeman Sean Mahoney.

Mahoney, a local businessman, won the election of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee by nearly a 3-to-1 margin -- 302 to 102 -- over former state Senate President Tom Eaton on Jan. 27. Mahoney, 40, replaces Concord lawyer Tom Rath, who stepped down to become part of Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

As representative to the national GOP committee, Mahoney said he is focused on convincing the rest of the country that New Hampshire should remain the first stop for 2008 presidential candidates.

"For more than 80 years, New Hampshire has proven itself to be valuable testing ground for presidential candidates," he said. "The value of one-on-one retail campaigning for which New Hampshire is famous needs to be recognized. Voters in New Hampshire have developed a keen ability to ask the right questions and size up would-be presidents."

Giving way to larger states such as California would further the problem that the successful candidate is the one with the most money.

"They'll spend too much time out of state raising money," he said. "Instead of going to the coffee shops in Market Square and the dump in Bedford and actually going out to meet the voters, which is so important."

The downfall of the state Republican Party in the 2006 elections was mainly a result of the war in Iraq and was not a condemnation of the GOP in the state, he said. Still, he said it has made his party realize there are improvements to be made.

"If there's a silver lining, it's that Republicans across the state are energized and motivated to win in '08," said Mahoney. "Having attended over a dozen county and city Republican committee meetings in the past (seven) weeks, it's clear that activists are unified in seeking to elect Republicans in 2008. Our party's message of lower taxes, smaller government and preserving personal liberties is one that's a natural fit with New Hampshire's approach toward government."

Mahoney, who failed at his attempt to win a seat on the governor's Executive Council last fall, said he is happy to have the opportunity to serve his state.

"When one door closes, another one opens," he said. "And I think this is great opportunity to make sure New Hampshire has a strong advocate down at the RNC."