Republican Candidates, the GOP and Ray

So obviously I caught up with Newt the other day. Next week Rudy Giuliani is scheduled to stop by. The campaign is warming up, and already people are looking to 2012 (including me).

I’m not originally from New Hampshire, and I didn’t go to college here. I only began studying the political landscape here in the last few years, when I started covering it. It’s still funny to me that the governor of this state only serves two year terms — I’m used to four. And then there is this thing called the executive council that oversees everything he does — I’ve never seen one of those before. And I haven’t been around during primary season before. I’m already looking forward to the next visit.

When I spent the day with Ray Burton, the executive councilor from the first district, he called himself a Rockefeller Republican, meaning someone who comes from the center-right, not the right-wing of the party. They are not the branch of the party currently in charge.

But that is a branch that typically does well in New Hampshire. Social conservativism doesn’t fit with the state’s libertarian streak. I’m interested to see in this Tea Party-powered election cycle how that plays out in this state. How will it play out for moderate Republicans like Jon Huntsman? What will a good finish in New Hampshire mean as its overly white, traditionally moderate electorate becomes more and more distant from national voters?

And what does that rightward influence mean for candidates like Burton? New Hampshire has seen a rise of fierce conservatives, as the House numbers prove. It will be interesting to see where it all ends up.

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