Republican Bob Burns touts ties to Trump as he jumps into race for Congress

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

  • Bob Burns announces his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District in a campaign video released Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Courtesy

For the Monitor
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Bob Burns will launch his Republican bid for Congress in New Hampshire’s 2nd District on Thursday by highlighting his relationship with President Donald Trump.

Burns, a former Hillsborough County treasurer, announced his candidacy in a campaign video, touting that he served during the 2016 presidential election as coalition chair for Donald Trump.

“My relationship with the president and those in his administration will give me the ability to work closely with them on issues facing our state and our country,” Burns said in the video, obtained Wednesday by the Monitor.

Burns spotlighted his Granite State roots.

“I’m a lifelong New Hampshire resident. Born in Nashua,” he said. “I went to college right here at Keene State.”

He also highlighted his conservative agenda.

“I’ve decided to run for Congress because we need a representative who will protect the Second Amendment and all of your constitutional rights,” he said in the video.

And taking a page out of the Trump playbook, Burns also promised to “reduce the size and scope of government, make the tax cuts permanent, offer real solutions to the opioid crisis, secure our borders and keep America safe.”

“I will only support legislation if it’s constitutional, cost-effective, necessary,” he said.

His late entry into the race for the GOP nomination in the 2nd District comes just one week before the start of the state’s filing period for candidates to officially get on the ballot.

Three major Republican candidates are already running in the 2nd District in hopes of facing off in November’s general election against three-term Democratic Rep. 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 was a top whistleblower in the Manchester VA Medical Center scandal, launched their campaigns last year.

Former state representative 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.

Businessman Brain Belanger of New Boston – who like Levenson is a first-time candidate – is also running for the GOP nomination in the district.

None of the existing GOP candidates reported strong 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 indicator of a candidate’s clout and a campaign’s strength and the money can be used to pay for staff, outreach, and ads.

Speaking with the Monitor last month, Burns was very candid about his reasons for jumping into the race.

“It looks great for me. Nobody’s raising any money. Nobody has any name ID,” Burns said of the GOP field.

“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,” he added hours after he announced on social media that he would be forming an exploratory committee.

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 congressional candidates not to the live in the district for which they are running.

Burns ran for the Executive Council seat in District 4 in 2012, losing to Chris Pappas, whom he’d beaten for county treasurer two years earlier. Pappas edged him out in the 2014 Executive Council rematch by less than 4,000 votes.