CONCORD -- A 23-year-old political operative has won the highly coveted job of executive director of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.
Jennifer Wrobleski of Manchester has been quickly promoted from within the state committee staff to a post that had been sought by more than a dozen applicants from New Hampshire and across the country. She had been the state party's office manager for the past three weeks.
"Jennifer has a strong background in working directly with concerned citizens around our state to garner support for various candidates and campaigns at the grassroots level," said Jayne Millerick, the 29-year-old Concord woman who became state GOP chairman several weeks ago.
The quick rise of Millerick and Wrobleski signals state Republican leadership's recognition of, and attempt to address, a gender gap that was especially evident in the U.S. Senate race narrowly won by John E. Sununu over former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen last November.
Wrobleski succeeds Chuck McGee, who resigned on Feb. 7 after The Union Leader reported that authorities were investigating allegations that a Virginia-based GOP consulting firm had orchestrated an election day operation that jammed get-out-the-vote telephone banks at five Democratic Party offices and the Manchester firefighters union office.
McGee at first denied having hired the consultant, GOP Marketplace. Millerick later corrected him and said the state committee did hire the firm. But she said it was hired to organize get-out-the-vote calls on behalf of Republican candidates and the party, not to jam phone lines.
The party paid the consultant $15,600 on Nov. 1, but Millerick said the work was never completed, and the party has been seeking a refund.
Millerick said McGee did nothing wrong but resigned to minimize distractions caused by the incident.
The phone-jamming issue has been referred by Manchester police to the Elections Fraud Unit of the U.S. Justice Department.
Last week, top Republican sources told WMUR television and several newspapers, including The Union Leader, that Rob Varsalone, a top political and media aid to Gov. Craig Benson, was the leading candidate to succeed McGee as party executive director.
The sources, who are close to both Benson and Varsalone, said Varsalone was interested in taking on the job, and as a Benson aide had the inside track on getting it.
But that changed over the weekend. Wrobleski was named executive director, while Benson decided Varsalone should stay with him while also beginning to spend more time at the state party, essentially splitting his time.
Varsalone is not a state employee and will be paid as a consultant out of Benson's political action committee, a high-ranking Republican source said. The source said the governor made the decision over the weekend on how he would prefer Varsalone to split his time.
Wrobleski, meanwhile, is a 2002 magna cum laude graduate of Boston University, with a degree in history. Prior to joining the state committee, she was a consultant for state Sen. Richard Green's campaign.
Wrobleski previously was a field representative for Sean Mahoney's congressional campaign. Mahoney lost the Republican congressional primary to Jeb Bradley, who went on to win election to the U.S. House.
In 2000, Wrobleski was director of operations for the Massachusetts Citizens Alliance, which, Millerick said, is not affiliated with the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance. Wrobleski was also a grassroots coordinator for Citizens for a Sound Economy and was a field representative for Steve Forbes 2000 Presidential campaign.
Millerick called Wrobleski "an extremely hard worker who will work not only to advance our positive Republican message, but also re-ignite volunteer involvement, win elections and improve communications from state headquarters to Republicans around the state."