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Shea-Porter issued primary challenge



Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2011
A lengthy Democratic primary contest is in store for the 1st District, where Portsmouth businesswoman Joanne Dowdell said yesterday she will compete against Carol Shea-Porter to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta.

Guinta won the seat last year from Shea-Porter, an incumbent who had represented the state's eastern district for four years. Shea-Porter announced two weeks ago that she will seek to take back the seat in the 2012 election. The Democrats would face each other in well over a year.

Dowdell, a first-time candidate, described herself yesterday as a progressive Democrat whose career as an investment firm executive has given her experience to address fiscal issues. She said she decided to run for Congress because she believes federal officeholders are not doing their job.

'Washington politicians have been making life harder for families here in New Hampshire and throughout the country,' Dowdell said. 'With my background I will work extremely hard to help strengthen our economy, create jobs, expand educational opportunity and really get our priorities in line.'

Dowdell, 52, was a member of President Obama's steering committee for the New Hampshire primary and canvassed on his behalf. In 2009, she became an at-large Democratic National Committeewoman.

She characterized her political outlook as similar to that of Shea-Porter, saying it would be up to voters to discern the differences.

'I think you would find that ideologically we're both progressive Democrats,' she said. 'This is democracy, from my point of view. This is the process in action, and that will be for voters to decide.'

Dowdell said she was not ready to commit to specific policy positions but intends to speak extensively with residents of the district to learn about their concerns.

'I'll know better when I get out and talk to them and listen to what they have to say,' she said.

Dowdell said she grew up in Niskayuna, in upstate New York, and graduated from Howard University with a degree in communications. She arrived in New Hampshire from Washington, D.C., nearly a decade ago and has since worked in socially responsible and sustainable investing. She held senior executive roles for the mutual fund companies Citizens Advisers and then Sentinel Investments. In those positions, Dowdell said, she steered research on companies being considered for investment. The companies were examined for their executive compensation, accounting practices and greenhouse gas emissions, she said.

Dowdell named veterans issues as an area of particular interest, saying her father served in World War II as a Tuskegee airman, a member of the first black aviation unit in the U.S. military. Shea-Porter advocated for veterans issues on the campaign trail and in Congress.

In the 2nd District, Democrat Ann McLane Kuster announced last month she would challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass for the seat she narrowly lost to him last November.

(Karen Langley can be reached at 369-3316 or klangley@cmonitor.com.)