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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Litchfield Rep. Lambert bows out of race for governor, citing health reasons

CONCORD – State Rep. George Lambert, R-
Litchfield, who had been exploring a candidacy for governor, has dropped out of the race on the advice of doctors after an October heart attack.

“I wanted to fight for the people of New Hampshire, but I can’t this time around. It’s crazy,” Lambert said. ...

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CONCORD – State Rep. George Lambert, R-
Litchfield, who had been exploring a candidacy for governor, has dropped out of the race on the advice of doctors after an October heart attack.

“I wanted to fight for the people of New Hampshire, but I can’t this time around. It’s crazy,” Lambert said.

Lambert has urged former House Speaker Bill O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, to enter the race in his stead.

“I said, ‘I need you to be my candidate.’ We talked about it,” Lambert said.

“Look, I have some resources, some people, and nobody will do a better job of uniting Republicans and really talking about the Bill O’Brien budget that has been adopted by Maggie Hassan.”

O’Brien told The Telegraph he isn’t ruling it out, but would rather help the party identify a “core conservative” to run for governor and U.S. Senate in 2014.

“I am disappointed as I look at the Senate race and the governor’s race; it doesn’t seem a conservative party like the Republican Party has a core conservative running,” O’Brien said.

Last June, O’Brien ended a GOP campaign for 2nd District congressman when he accepted a lucrative post as the chief executive of a German-based software security firm with offices in Boston.

“I am here to say there is life after the Statehouse,” O’Brien said. “I’m really enjoying myself and I’m making a good living, which my wife and family really appreciate.”

Within minutes of the speculation, Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley did an email blast trying to raise money on the idle rumor that O’Brien could take this leap.

“After just one term as speaker of the House, New Hampshire voters threw Bill O’Brien and his radical Tea Party allies out of power,” Buckley wrote.

“His failed tenure as speaker was noted for his efforts to repeal funding for Planned Parenthood and ban contraceptives for women, attempts to repeal marriage equality, the repeal of the minimum wage, and the scandalous resignation of his majority leader.”

Lambert, 44, said pain in his shoulder and difficulty breathing had him thinking he might have pneumonia until he was put on a cardiac monitor at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester.

“I am generally in good health, but I had a blood clot,” Lambert said. “I didn’t know I was having a heart attack.

“I went a day to a day and a half with not knowing I had a heart attack.”

Lambert said after installing a heart stent, the advice from doctors and his family wasn’t negotiable.

“My doctor said I really need to take it easy for a while and should take this election cycle off,” Lambert said.

“My wife and my advisory panel all said we think you’d be a great governor, but we want you alive. Take another place in the advisory role of the party and come back in a few years.”

Lambert said he does intend to run for re-election to the House in the district he represents, which includes Litchfield and a south Manchester ward.

“If I don’t run for anything else, I will definitely run for the House,” Lambert said.

“That only involves September and October, so I should be able to handle that.”

The departure leaves the race with Chuck Rolocek, of Bedford, who finished third in a three-way GOP primary for Executive Council in September 2012.

He is former owner of C.R. Sparks Restaurant in Bedford and current owner of the Hanover Street Chop House in Manchester.

Rolocek has said he’d make up his mind after the holidays.

When Lambert said he was close to getting in the race for governor, other Republicans were thinking about it, too. They include:

Bedford Sen. Andy Sanborn.

2012 candidate Kevin Smith, of Litchfield.

Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, of Newfields.

Salem Sen. Chuck Morse.

Smith has since become Londonderry town manager and Morse has become Senate president. Sanborn and Sununu have said they intend to seek re-election to their current posts next year.

Lambert said should O’Brien decide not to run, his second choice would be Andrew Hemingway, former chief of the Republican Liberty Caucus and runner-up candidate for Republican state chairman.

“Love him or hate him, you know who Bill O’Brien is,” Lambert said. “There is no name recognition problem there.”

O’Brien seconded Hemingway as an intriguing prospect.

“I think Andrew would be a great conservative candidate,” O’Brien said. “We’ll see if they come up with the strongest candidate.”

Lambert was registered as an independent for years, first ran as a Democrat to become a Litchfield selectman in 2006 and then became a “Ron Paul Republican” for the former Texas congressman, who was the Libertarian Party’s standard-bearer for president.

“I’m a constitutionalist, a liberty Republican,” said Lambert, a native of Sanford, Maine. “I lean Libertarian, but so did our founding fathers.

“I’m socially liberal, fiscally conservative, and I believe in limited government.”

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).