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Huntsman Peels Off Key Romney Backer in New Hampshire

Huntsman Peels Off Key Romney Backer in New Hampshire

By Erin McPike - April 16, 2011

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported Thursday that Horizon PAC, the Utah-based campaign-in-waiting operation for Jon Huntsman, set up a state-based PAC in New Hampshire this week that Salem-based Wally Stickney will chair.

What the Union Leader didn't mention, though, is that Stickney was a key activist for Mitt Romney in the 2008 election.

Stickney is from Salem, a Republican stronghold that is critical to any candidate's efforts in the New Hampshire primary. And what's more is that Romney won that area in his overall second-place finish in the state to Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008.

According to a Granite State GOP operative not associated with either of the presidential teams, "Given Stickney's level of activism for Romney in 2008, this is a surprising (and impressive) move by Huntsman's people. Stickney is very popular and influential in the greater Salem area, and he is very conservative to boot (which is probably helpful to Huntsman should he run)."

Stickney's official past includes a stint as chief of the Federal Emergency Management Association under President H.W. Bush, as well as New Hampshire commissioner of transportation under then-Gov. John H. Sununu. For his part, Sununu has been critical of Huntsman but complimentary of Romney.

Huntsman's supporters have been building among the most impressive of the Granite State's political teams without even having a candidate yet to visit the state. In addition to Stickney, the PAC recently signed some of the state's most respected Republican strategists - Paul Collins and Brad Blais.

 

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at emcpike@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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