2nd District GOP congressional candidates slam Kuster, praise Trump

  • Second Congressional District GOP candidates Lynne Blankenbeker (left) and state Rep. Steve Negron (right) talk with 1st District GOP candidate Eddie Edwards (center) at the annual New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women Lilac Luncheon in Manchester on Monday, May 21, 2018. Paul Steinhauser / For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The three major Republican candidates running in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District targeted Democratic congresswoman Annie Kuster and complimented President Donald Trump as they pitched voters at a gathering of GOP female activists.

“We’ve got to support our president. We need good conservative candidates in there (Congress) supporting our president,” Lynne Blankenbeker said Monday as she spoke at the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women’s annual Lilac Luncheon.

Blankenbeker, who spent more than three decades in the U.S. Air Force and Navy and who’s currently a commanding officer in the Navy Reserve, twice won election to the state House of Representatives as a conservative from Concord.

“Congress is fractured, and it’s about time we send a nurse to heal that fracture,” she said, highlighting her years as a combat nurse in Iraq and Afghanistan.

State Rep. Steve Negron of Nashua, an Air Force veteran and small business owner, played to the pro-Trump crowd.

“We’re going to restore American confidence just like our president. Just like the tax package that he did. Just like the Iran deal. And just like bringing North Korea to the table,” Negron said.

Negron labeled Kuster a “non-representative,” adding “you deserve a voice.”

He also brought up the combustible issue of illegal immigration, mentioning his immigrant roots.

“We are a land of laws. We’re not doing it. We need to get back to doing it right,” he said.

Dr. Stewart Levenson of Hopkinton, a former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional director who last year was one of the top whistleblowers at the Manchester VA Medical Center, also praised Trump. And like the president, he highlighted a tough stance on immigration.

“We need to have secure borders so we can finally control the opioid crisis and keep the criminal aliens off our street,” Levenson said.

Levenson has been a vocal critic of Kuster – who also lives in Hopkinton – for what he says is her lack of response to the problems afflicting Manchester’s VA facility. And he predicted her defeat this November.

“This is her third term. It’s going to be her last term,” Levenson told the Monitor.

And speaking three days after another mass shooting at a high school – this time in Texas – Levenson made a full-throated defense of gun rights.

“To me, gun control is the death of a 1,000 scratches,” he said. “In one day it’s background checks, the next day it’s exclusion zones. And before you know it you’re made a criminal if you try to live up to your Second Amendment rights.”

Blankenbeker brought up her service earlier this decade at the Pentagon to highlight the gridlock that’s brought Washington to a halt.

“I got a front-row seat to the dysfunction that was going on in Congress,” she said.

Blankenbeker is the only Republican woman running in either of New Hampshire’s two congressional districts.

Blankenbeker touted her resume rather than her gender when asked by the Monitor whether being a woman gives her an advantage over her two male rivals in the 2nd District GOP nomination race.

“I don’t know if gender necessarily gives us a leg up, but I do think I have a pretty substantial resume. Standing on my merits, what I stand for and my resume certainly puts me at an advantage,” she said.

Blankenbeker came in second in a straw poll open to those attending the event. Negron won with 53 votes to Blankenbeker’s 40. Levenson came in third with 15 votes.