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Burns cites ‘internal polling’ as motivation to jump into New Hampshire Congressional race

  • Republican Bob Burns of Bedford is launching an exploratory campaign for New Hampshire's Second Congressional District. Courtesy—

  • Bob Burns (right) poses with Donald Trump. —Courtesy



For the Monitor
Friday, April 20, 2018

Bob Burns is open about why he wants to run for the Republican nomination in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District.

“It looks great for me. Nobody’s raising any money. Nobody has any name ID,” Burns told the Monitor on Friday, hours after he announced on social media that he would be forming an exploratory committee.

Burns, who was born in Nashua and grew up in Bedford, is a former Hillsborough County treasurer. He ran for the Executive Council seat in District 4 in 2012, losing to Chris Pappas, whom he beat for county treasurer two years earlier. He was defeated by Pappas in the 2014 executive council rematch by less than 4,000 votes.

Three major Republican candidates are already running in the Second District, in the hopes of facing off in November’s general election against three-term Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster.

State Rep. Steve Negron, a U.S. Air Force veteran and businessman from Nashua, and Dr. Stewart Levenson of Hopkinton, a former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional director, who in 2017 was one of the top whistleblowers at the Manchester VA Medical Center, launched their campaigns last year.

Former state Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker of Concord jumped into the race in January. Blankenbeker’s a U.S. Air Force and Navy veteran who was deployed to Oman and Kuwait during Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a combat nurse and who’s currently a Navy reservist and part-time commanding officer of a 600-member medical unit in San Diego.

Neither Blankenbeker, Negron, nor Levenson are household names in the district, which covers the western part of the state, from the Massachusetts border north to the Canadian border.

And all three of the existing candidates had lackluster fundraising figures during the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Kuster raised more than $440,000 during the January-March period, bringing to $2.1 million the amount of campaign cash she’s brought in since launching her 2018 re-election bid.

Fundraising is an important indicator of a candidate’s clout and a campaign’s strength and the money can be used to pay for staff, outreach, and ads.

Burns said he didn’t see any reason why he wouldn’t run.

“My internal polling showed me that I do better against the other three, only because I have better name ID, because I’ve actually been elected in a lot of these towns and run in a lot of these towns,” Burns offered. “I probably wouldn’t be considering it if my internal polling didn’t show that I was doing really well.”

Burns is a veteran GOP activist who served as an alternate delegate at the 2008 Republican National Convention. He was a strong supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, serving as chair of the national campaign’s youth coalition and as a delegate at the 2016 nominating convention in Cleveland.

A strong Second Amendment advocate and opponent of the national health care law commonly known as Obamacare, Burns said that guns and health care would be the two top issues of his congressional campaign.

Burns doesn’t live in the district. He’s a resident of Bedford, which is just over the border in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District. It’s legal but rare for a congressional candidate not to the live in the district where they are running. But Burns highlighted his birth in Nashua as well as spending four years in Keene, where he graduated from Keene State College.
This cycle the Second District race is getting overshadowed by the wild contest in the First District, where eight Democrats and two Republicans are running to succeed retiring four-term Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

“The candidates running in CD2 have poor name recognition and we haven’t seen much activity outside of party meetings and VFW halls,” said New England College political science professor Wayne Lesperance. “None of the candidates bring that ‘rock star’ background that might make them better known.”

“So, their challenge is to engage in that old New Hampshire tradition of retail politics and find ways to earn some free media,” Lesperance added.