CONWAY — Local Realtor Steven Steiner was named chairman of the Mount Washington Valley Republicans following an election that took place recently at the Lobster Trap Restaurant in North Conway.
Steiner's rival for the chairmanship was Ray Gilmore of Bartlett. The post was open because former chair Karen Umberger of Conway is now serving as a state representative.
Steiner believes the tally of the voting that took place Feb. 15 was 24-14. He said there are 92 total members in all of the group.
Asked why he sought the chairmanship, Steiner said: “I've been a part of this organization here in the valley for 13 years, since I've been here,” said Steiner, who came here from Tioga Center, N.Y., with wife Julie.
“And I felt I had something to bring to the committee and some leadership in regard to Republican values, conservative values.”
Steiner is a broker/owner of Whitehill Estates & Homes which focuses on luxury real estate. He enjoys serving the public as a member of the zoning board of adjustment and planning board alternate. He has also served on the budget committee in the past.
Umberger, who chaired the valley Republicans for two years, said she was “very happy” for Steiner. She said the ballot vote was conducted inside and outside, for people who wanted to social distance.
Prior to Umberger, former U.S. Rep. Frank McCarthy of North Conway chaired the local group for several years.
Asked about his priorities, Steiner said it would be reaching out to young people so that they can learn about policy, politics and civics. He also intends to have the committee be more active on social media.
The Sun asked Steiner his opinion of the divide within the party between pro- and anti-Donald Trump factions.
Steiner is decidedly pro-Trump.
“President Trump is probably the best president we've had in my lifetime,” said Steiner. "I've been on this beautiful earth for 60 years. There has not been a president that's gotten more done than President Trump.”
Steiner conceded that some might not like Trump’s personality or the way he delivers his message, but he said Trump was putting the U.S. on a successful trajectory.
He faults President Joe Biden for canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and says that will cost 100,000 jobs and that the Democrat is undoing Trump’s work to make the U.S. energy-independent.
“Come 2024, I think people will wish that Trump is back in office, and that's where we're hopefully going to be heading,” said Steiner.
“I mean, President Trump got 74 million votes," said Steiner. "There's a lot of people out there, and they still believe in him. They believe in the Republican brand. And even though we have a couple cracks here and there, everything will come back and gel back together.”
Umberger, asked the same question, said she hopes those differences can be put aside for the midterm elections.
“I think it’s very important that we come together,” she said.
Reached last Wednesday, Gilmore congratulated Steiner on his victory.
“Steve won the election with overwhelming support from the crowd, and I wish him and the MWVRC nothing but success,“ said Gilmore.
Gilmore, a retired Army captain, said he wrote an open letter asking Republicans to support him but guessed that the message at the end of the letter proved to be unappealing to the Republican voters.
"I have sworn an oath to protect and defend The Constitution," it said. "My loyalty is to our nation, not to an individual, nor a party, nor a brand or a slogan. It is the Constitution, and the rights that it has provided us, that have made our republic great, and it will continue to do so, as long as we bear true faith and allegiance to it."
Jim LeFebvre of Conway and John Hartman of Eaton are first and second vice chairs of the Mt. Washington Valley Republicans, respectively.
LeFebvre said there was spirited discussion during the election and the crowd of about 40 people was a better attendance than there has been in years.
He feels that the positive momentum that Umberger built will be continued by Steiner. He said that on the state level, Republicans did well and hold a majority in both houses of the Legislature, the Executive Council as well as the governor's office.
"We have every reason to be optimistic," said LeFebvre.