Ovide Lamontagne, a 53-year-old attorney and former Senate candidate, is running for governor of New Hampshire in 2012.

Ovide Lamontagne rose to prominence with the tea party movement. Now he’s running for governor. (Cheryl Senter/AP)

“We need to have leaders in our state that believe in the people here,” he told a Monday morning meeting of the Bedford Republican Committee.

With Gov. John Lynch (D) retiring, this seat is a great pickup opportunity for Republicans.

Riding a wave of tea party support, Lamontagne nearly upset now-Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) in last year’s Senate primary. Since then, he has formed his own political action committee and opened his house to presidential candidates, hoping to become a kingmaker in the early primary state.

But at least one tea partier has had a rocky time of late in the Granite State.

Former state GOP chairman Jack Kimball is a conservative tea party activist who beat an establishment-backed candidate this past January to become party chair. Last month, he resigned in disgrace amid complaints about weak fundraising and special election losses.

So given the recent past, New Hampshire voters might be skeptical of insurgents. And Lamontagne fell short even at the height of tea party enthusiasm.

At the same time, Lamontagne is not Kimball, a brash and confrontational figure. Lamontagne doesn’t even describe himself as a political outsider.

“I’ve been involved in the Republican party for 25 years,” Lamontagne told the Post earlier this year. “I’m a mainstream Republican, but I’m a conservative.” He backed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in 2008.

“Ovide has been a movement conservative for about 20 years,” said Charlie Arlinghaus, former executive director of the state GOP.. “Ovide predates the tea party and has a lot of those views. He’s exactly their kind of candidate ... His great strength is that he’s a known quantity. More establishment Republicans are also familiar with him.”

Supporters agree that Lamontagne can bridge the gap between the establishment and the activists.

“I think he’ll find a lot of tea party support,” said Jerry DeLemus of the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC, who has already endorsed Lamontagne. “His integrity is unquestionable, he’s got a lifelong track record of consistency in his beliefs. ”

Democrats are banking on tea party fatigue.

“Ovide LaMontagne is a perennial candidate who marches in lockstep with the extremist, Tea Party Republicans in Concord,” said Colm O’Comartun, the Executive Director of the Democratic Governors Association.

Former state senator Maggie Hassan is expected to run on the Democratic side. Other potential candidates include former state legislator Kevin Smith (R), 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee John Stephen, former Bureau of Securities Regulation director Mark Connolly (D) and Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand (D).

Smith, like Lamontagne, will likely got a lot of tea party backing should he run.