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Republican 1st District hopefuls meet in debate

  • This Tuesday Oct. 8 2013 photo provided by his campaign shows Dan Innis.  Innis on Wednesday Oct.  9, 2013 will announce his bid for the U.S. House seat held by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter setting up a primary against fellow Republican Frank Guinta. Innis is the dean of the business school at the University of New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Innis Campaign, Mark Bogacz)

    This Tuesday Oct. 8 2013 photo provided by his campaign shows Dan Innis. Innis on Wednesday Oct. 9, 2013 will announce his bid for the U.S. House seat held by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter setting up a primary against fellow Republican Frank Guinta. Innis is the dean of the business school at the University of New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Innis Campaign, Mark Bogacz)

  • Republican candidate for New Hampshire's 1st congressional district Frank Guinta greets supporters in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. Guinta is trying to unseat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Republican candidate for New Hampshire's 1st congressional district Frank Guinta greets supporters in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. Guinta is trying to unseat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • This Tuesday Oct. 8 2013 photo provided by his campaign shows Dan Innis.  Innis on Wednesday Oct.  9, 2013 will announce his bid for the U.S. House seat held by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter setting up a primary against fellow Republican Frank Guinta. Innis is the dean of the business school at the University of New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Innis Campaign, Mark Bogacz)
  • Republican candidate for New Hampshire's 1st congressional district Frank Guinta greets supporters in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. Guinta is trying to unseat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Republican congressional hopeful Dan Innis yesterday called rival Frank Guinta a career politician who’s part of a troubling trend in Washington, while Guinta questioned Innis’s party loyalty during a televised debate.

Innis, a Portsmouth businessman, and Guinta, a former congressman and mayor, are among four candidates seeking the Republican nomination in next week’s primary for a chance to take on 1st District Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. Along with former Seabrook selectman Brendan Kelly, they participated in a televised debate last night on WMUR.

Innis, a political newcomer, indirectly criticized Guinta, saying that while some political experience is valuable, sending the same people to Washington repeatedly and expecting better results isn’t working. Shea-Porter held the seat for two terms before being ousted by Guinta in 2010 and then defeated him to win back the seat in 2012.

“In this race, I’m facing a career politician. I’m not that,” said Innis, who owns a Portsmouth inn and is a former University of New Hampshire administrator. “Washington, D.C., is broken, and if we want to fix Washington we’ve got to slow down the revolving door in this seat and start sending different people to Washington – people who aren’t politicians but can get things done.”

Guinta, who previously served as a state lawmaker and alderman before being elected mayor of Manchester and then to Congress, said he was proud of his political career, and that New Hampshire voters expect people to serve their communities.

“That is a very strong tradition here in New Hampshire,” he said. He also emphasized that unlike Innis, he hasn’t voted in Democratic primaries. Innis has acknowledged he voted in the 2008 Democrat presidential primary.

“I’m a Republican, period,” Innis responded.

The candidates offered differing positions on both abortion – Guinta and Kelly oppose it, Innis believes it should be legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy – and gay marriage. Innis, who is gay and married, said opposition to gay marriage should be removed from the national GOP platform, while both Guinta and Kelly said they support only traditional marriage between men and women.

The candidates also were asked about who should decide whether the U.S. should close any military bases – Congress or military officials. Today, Vice President Joe Biden is visiting the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which has survived previous attempts to shutter it.

Innis said military experts rather than Congress should decide military structure.

“What you’re seeing is Congress thinking about the next election, not the next generation,” he said, though he clarified later that he supports keeping the Portsmouth shipyard open.

Guinta was more forceful, saying supporting the shipyard is not about politics but about supporting one of the nation’s most efficient shipyards and the economic engine its workforce represents.

“We have bases overseas that we should be looking at closing, not here in America and certainly not here in New Hampshire,” he said.

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