CONCORD, N.H. – The state’s embattled GOP chairman says he won’t resign despite pressure to quit from top party leaders.

Jack Kimball, a tea party activist, says he represents a movement that’s much larger than him and that’s crucial to the party’s future.

Kimball held firm even as U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and a majority of the party’s executive board called for new leadership in a letter dated Wednesday. The board will vote next Thursday on whether to remove Kimball.

Some Republicans are unhappy about recent GOP losses in special elections for House seats. Some raised concerns about the lack of cash in the party’s accounts. But two events in recent weeks coalesced support for Kimball’s ouster:

At a special election in Barrington two weeks ago, Kimball signed a petition he thought was in support of giving a Libertarian Party candidate access to a ballot line. It was actually a petition to give Libertarians broader access to ballots in general.

Last week, Kimball fired popular GOP executive director Will Wrobleski.

Former GOP state chairman Fergus Cullen said Kimball’s signing of the Libertarian petition was “a critical tipping point.”

“Firing Wrobleski compounded the problem,” Cullen said. “Both got people saying he’s got to go.”

Rep. Shawn Jasper, a Hudson Republican, said he found it “horrifying that a Republican Party chairman thought it was a good idea to have another candidate, not a Republican, run against a Republican.”

“That was simply it for me,” Jasper said. “It appears quite frankly to me at this point that he’s trying to destroy the Republican Party.”

Kimball says ousting him will create a deep divide in the party. He says the party’s lean coffers are a result of his efforts to retire old debt.

At a news conference Thursday, Kimball stressed his tea party affiliation and blamed the rift on differences between the tea party and what he described as “the establishment.”

“One of the major goals of my chairmanship is to help the party move into the future, but sadly there are some who are still stuck in the past,” he said.

Ayotte was joined in her call for Kimball’s resignation by the party’s top echelon, including U.S. Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, Senate President Peter Bragdon, House Speaker William O’Brien and GOP national committeeman Steve Duprey.

In a joint statement, Ayotte and the others thanked Kimball for his time and effort but added, “To ensure that all of the party’s energy and resources are solely focused on electing Republicans, we believe it is time to move beyond this serious distraction.”