Keene State Alumna Plays Role in First-In-The Nation Primary
With just days to go before the key New Hampshire State Primary on Feb. 9, Kerry Marsh ’03 and her staff are up against the clock, hoping to knock on as many doors and make as many phone calls they can in support of Republican Carly Fiorina before time runs out.
“I haven’t slept in a while, but it’s great,” said Marsh, NH state director of Fiorina’s super PAC. “We are finishing up doing doors for the day and getting ready to get on the phones tonight and talk to more of our supporters.”
Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, super PACs may raise and spend unlimited sums of money to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Unlike traditional PACs, super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates, and their spending must not be coordinated with that of the candidates they benefit.
As the director of the Carly for America super PAC in New Hampshire, Marsh and her staff are allowed to support the Fiorina campaign but not allowed to coordinate with the campaign. Heading a team of 13 workers in four campaign offices around the state, Marsh leads a group doing grassroots development and endorsement. “We do things like TV and radio commercials and direct mail, but we are different than most super PACs,” Marsh explained. “We are focused a lot on the ground game. We have more staff than a normal super PAC … we’re all about contact, quality conversations and building relationships and a network of support for Carly.”
Marsh defends against the negative impressions of super PACs. “We’re doing things differently than just negative mail that’s biased,” she said. “We promote a positive message for Carly and doing a lot of face-to-face contact and not just spending money. It’s different – that’s why I signed on.”
An economics major and a four-year starting second baseman on the Keene State softball team, Marsh has not only been on the right side of the diamond, but on the right politically. Marsh said she better identified with the Republican message.
Marsh, who is from Meriden, NH, got her initial taste of politics the first the day she arrived on campus in 1999. A funeral for longtime NH state senator Clemson “Junie” Blaisdell closed the campus, and the following day John McCain arrived to ramp up support for his 2000 campaign. “I saw my first political campaign and I was hooked,” she said.
As a student, Marsh said she enjoyed jousting politically with teachers like Chuck Weed and being challenged by her economics professors. Already involved with republican groups on and off campus, Marsh stepped a little deeper into the political waters after graduating, working as a legislative assistant for then-NH speaker Gene Chandler.
However, it wasn’t long before she learned a valuable political lesson. “Politics is not always kind. I picked the wrong horse in the next speaker’s race, so I wasn’t asked to come back,” she said. “It was a very humbling and good experience for me.”
Marsh didn’t stay on the political sidelines for long. In 2007, she was selected as chairman of the New Hampshire Young Republicans and has been named one of the Top 40 NH Republicans by Campaign and Elections magazine.
For the past 10 years, Marsh has also worked as an associate in the Political Division of Spectrum Marketing Companies in Manchester, helping to fine-tune messaging and implanting direct mail strategies for numerous candidates and issue campaigns. During this time, she has taken a leave of absence to work on several campaigns, including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s bid for the White House in the 2012 primary. She couldn’t resist the opportunity to join Carly for America last March.
Former NH GOP executive director Steve DeMaura, who is now executive director of Carly for America, said, “As we work to build a true New Hampshire effort based on person-to-person, town-to-town campaigning, there is no better person to lead that effort than Kerry Marsh. She has worked in the trenches at all levels of New Hampshire politics. She has unparalleled on-the-ground experience. We are grateful to have her on the team as we promote pro-growth policies that will unlock the potential of this nation and individuals.”
Marsh says her experience as a KSC softball player came in handy. “I use a lot of my softball skills when it comes to motivation and teamwork and inspiring people to work harder,” she said.
Heavily involved in the current campaign, Marsh hasn’t had much time to strategize about her next political endeavor. “I’m not sure yet. Everything depends on primary day,” said Marsh. “We have built up the structure so we can be in other states and the road doesn’t stop here. So I will help Carly for America and Carly for as long as I possibly can.”
Marsh says she really enjoys politics and sees herself continuing in the campaign side of politics. “I have a lot of choices. It’s a good problem to have,” she said.