MANCHESTER – Republican candidates in the 2nd U.S. House district primary race Wednesday accused each other of taking illegal campaign contributions and sparred about their attendance records and votes in the New Hampshire Legislature.
State Rep. Marilinda Garcia of Salem and former state Sen. Gary Lambert of Nashua, while also addressing key state and national issues from the Northern Pass to the Veterans Affairs scandal, did not back down from the allegations leveled by their campaign managers last week in report in the New Hampshire Journal.
Former state Rep. Jim Lawrence of Hudson said the two of not focusing on the issues votes care about, while saying that despite raising far less money than the other two, he would be a formidable candidate should he win the primary on Sept. 9.
The three, who are vying for the GOP nomination to take on first-term Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster in November, squared off in an hour-long debate broadcast on WGIR radio, hosted by “New Hampshire Today” host Jack Heath with questions posed by New Hampshire Journal news editor John DiStaso and Heath.
To hear the entire debate podcast, click here.
Lambert said he has “not done anything wrong” by taking contributions from a charity and a corporation and has “a 60-day window” to review his quarterly contributions and correct any mistakes. He also said, “If we see another campaign out there doing something that we think is wrong or incorrect, we’re going to point that out.”
Garcia said her questionable in-kind contributions related to an event at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway were entirely legal but were the subject of a “spurrious” claim by the Lambert campaign. She said the criticism “dismayed” her.
“I’m glad that Senator Lambert is seeking to resolve the irregularities in his report,” she said. “My campaign doesn’t have any.”
Lambert, however, said he stands by the comment of his campaign manager that Garcia broke campaign finance law.
Lambert also said that while 80 percent of his campaign contributions in the second quarter came from New Hampshire, only 13 percent of Garcia’s contributions came from the 2nd District.
The contributions, he said, “are coming from New Hampshire for me and from out of state special interests for Representative Garcia.”
Garcia said a viable Republican candidate who can raise money from outside New Hampshire is needed because Kuster has a huge fund-raising advantage. “This is a national race,” she said.
Lawrence said, however, “This is the kind of thing turns people off,” and urged that the discussion center on the Affordable Care Act and other key issues.
Garcia said Lambert’s vote against repeal of New Hampshire participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative hurt GOP efforts to have the state pull out of the program.
“We really missed his vote on that,” she said, pointing out that it was the deciding vote in the state Senate.
Lambert said his support in the past for RGGI and his recent opposition to a carbon tax is not, as Garcia’s campaign has charged, “trying to have it both ways.
“I’ve made it very, very clear that I will oppose any kind of national cap-and-trade program,” he said.
Lambert said that by exiting RGGI, New Hampshire would still been responsible for paying $5.6 million in subsidies and missed out on $12 million in energy efficiency funding. He said small businesses and the Retail Merchants Association pointed out to him that by pulling out of the program, “you’re going to lose a lot of money on it.”
Lawrence said that as a state representative, he opposed RGGI and still does. “It’s an over-regulation and an energy tax that we can’t afford.”
Lawrence alone opposed the Northern Pass project regardless of whether the transmission lines are buried.
“I can’t trade temporary infrastructure jobs for permanent tourism jobs,” he said. “I don’t believe in fairy tales.”
Garcia and Lambert, however, said they would support the project if the transmission lines are buried.
Garcia called it a “possible compromise that seems reasonable to me” and appears to have the support of most North County residents.
“I’m all for more power, more energy,” Lambert said. But, he said, “Let’s bury the lines. Seems like a no-brainer for me.”
All three candidates backed the Keystone Pipeline, but Lambert said, “I don’t think anybody should be subsidized, that includes big oil,” as well as the solar or wind energy industries.
Sparring on their records at the State House, Lambert criticized Garcia for missing a vote earlier this year on whether to expand Medicaid in New Hampshire.
“She wasn’t there,” Lambert said. “I don’t know where she was, whether or not she was worried about her congressional campaign or what, in D.C. hobnobbing with special interest groups.” He charged that Garcia “was more concerned about her political career” than trying to prevent the program from being enacted in the state.
Garcia said she was “going to have a chuckle” and then acknowledged missing the vote and apologized for it, but said she testified against it when it was reviewed by the House Finance Committee.
“There’s no question that I oppose Medicaid expansion,” she said.
She then fired back, telling Lambert there were “many votes in your term” in the Senate that “I would have loved to see you absent for,” including, she charged, not supporting “local control,” not allowing “legislative authorization of federal education standards,” not supporting allowing the purchase of health insurance from out-of-state companies and opposing allowing auto inspections every two years.
“We had an opportunity to make great strides in this state and you prevented us from doing that,” she said.
Lambert said he had a 100 percent voting record while serving in the Marine, both actively and in the Reserve, and holding down a job as a patent attorney. Garcia, he said, has missed 20 percent of the state House votes taken during her four terms.
Regarding the House GOP move to sue President Obama – and talk about an impeachment – Garcia said Obama has shown that he will take “unilateral actions” outside of the law and is “ignoring the separation of powers.”
She said that if his actions overstep his constitutional authority, then “legal action” should be taken, “and if it’s an impeachable offense, as the process will show,” then all every member of Congress “needs to vote appropriately.”
Lambert said an impeachment would be futile because it would not be upheld by the Democratic-controlled Senate, but “I am behind the lawsuit” that was scheduled to be voted on by the GOP-led House in Washington on Wednesday, charging that Obama has tried to circumvent laws.
Lawrence said he believes Obama “has overstepped his authority and there should be some action taken.”
Garcia said Obama and “his surrogates” including Kuster “are actively deceiving us,” citing the Affordable Care Act, the veterans scandal and the IRS scandal.
Lambert said that he retired from a 35-year career in the Marines and Marine Reserves and believes “career politicians” are “not paying attention to Main Street.”
Lawrence said Obama’s policies, “supported by Rep. Ann Kuster, are destroying this country.”
The three unanimously took strong stands against the Obama administration’s approach to the border crisis and agreed on federal legislation to spend $12 billion in emergency funding to improve health care options for veterans.
Asked to say something positive about Obama, Lambert said the President seems to be a good father and gives “good messaging on what fathers should be doing.” But Garcia said Obama “has allowed us to realize that we’ve taken a lot for granted in this country,” while Lawrence said he is “showing us a good example of what not to do” on foreign policy.
(Earlier reports follow.)
MANCHESTER — Republican 2nd District U.S. House candidates Gary Lambert and Marilinda Garcia exchanged harsh charges on campaign finance and their voting records in the New Hampshire Legislature in a debate Wednesday morning on WGIR radio. Fellow Repubican Jim Lawrence joined them as they also talked about key issues facing the district and the nation.
Click here for the full podcast from earlier today.
(Our earlier report follows.)
Tuesday, July 29
MANCHESTER – The three major Republican candidates for the 2nd District U.S. House seat are set for a Wednesday morning radio debate showdown.
State Rep. Marlilinda Garcia of Salem, former state Sen. Gary Lambert of Nashua and former state Rep. Jim Lawrence of Hudson will square off in a hour-long debate on WGIR’s “New Hampshire Today” program beginning at 8 a.m.
Participating in the debate will be two veteran New Hampshire political news reporters. Moderating will be Jack Heath, the host of “New Hampshire Today,” and posing questions will be John DiStaso, news editor of the New Hampshire Journal.
The campaign rhetoric between the campaigns of Garcia and Lambert has been ratcheting up in recent weeks, as Lawrence has urged them to stick to the issues. Click here for our latest Granite Reports column.
Click here at 8 a.m. to hear the debate live.