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Republican Steve Negron criticizes Kuster as being too partisan

  • Steve Negron is the latest Republican to announce his candidacy for the party nomination to challenge incumbent Democrat Annie Kuster in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District. —Courtesy

For the Monitor
Published: 10/19/2017 3:35:54 PM

Steve Negron is the latest Republican to take aim at Congresswoman Annie Kuster, bemoaning the lack of bipartisanship in the nation’s capital.

Negron, an Air Force veteran and businessman from Nashua, said his large personal investment into his bid for Congress shows he’s “very serious about this race.”

The first-term Republican state representative said he’s a big proponent of tax reform, thinks some parts of Obamacare are worth saving and revealed that while he “may not necessarily always agree with what the president is saying,” he still supports advancing some of Donald Trump’s agenda.

And in an interview with the Monitor after officially filing the necessary paperwork to become a candidate for the GOP nomination in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, Negron criticized the partisanship that gridlocks Washington.

“For those of us who do go to Washington, I feel we sometimes lose sight of the fact as to why we were sent there to Washington. And I think a lot of times it can be intoxicating in Washington, where you lose sight,” Negron said. “You were sent there to represent a state. And I think there are some things that you have to do for your state that may sometimes fly in the face of your party.”

“What happens in my opinion is that somebody gets elected and all of a sudden they shut down in listening. And I think that’s part of the problem in Washington,” Negron added. “Sometimes principle is more important than party.”

Negron painted Kuster, the three-term Democratic congresswoman he hopes to challenge in next year’s election, as a partisan politician.

“Since she’s been in there, she’s voted with her party over 90 percent of the time,” he said. “She doesn’t buck the party line.”

“I’m sure she’s loyal to the citizens of New Hampshire, but I think someone can be sent to Washington and do a lot better,” he added.

Negron first ran for public office last year, winning a House seat in Nashua’s Ward 5. And while he has a brief legislative record in Concord, Negron highlighted when he bucked his party.

“I was one of the 66 Republicans that voted against the budget, he said. “We were hard-pressed. It was a platform of the governor, but I just couldn’t in good faith vote for a budget that we believed was in excess. And how could I vote for that because that’s what the party wanted and come back to my town of Nashua and walk around Ward 5 and look them (voters) in the eye?”

Negron has lived in Nashua for 28 years, working in the defense industry for such contractors as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. He is currently president and CEO of Integron LLC, an engineering firm. In the U.S. Air Force, he worked as an intercontinental ballistic missile combat crew member in Missouri and at Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., before retiring as a major in 1998, according to his campaign website.

Negron becomes the third Republican candidate in the 2nd District race, following former state House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan, who’s making his second straight bid for Congress, and Dr. Stewart Levenson, a former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional director who earlier this year was one of the top whistleblowers at the Manchester VA Medical Center.

Kuster is a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and when he announced his candidacy, Levenson sharply criticized her efforts in trying to improve the conditions at the Manchester VA facility.

While highlighting that he’s a veteran and the son of a veteran, Negron wasn’t as critical as Levenson when it came to Kuster’s role.

“I think she’s done some things that are good. There’s always room for improvement. I certainly don’t have the insight that Dr. Levenson had because he worked there,” he said.

While New Hampshire’s all-Democrat congressional delegation is trying to convince the VA to turn the Manchester location into a full-service facility, Negron wasn’t sure that move would solve all the problems plaguing the medical center.

“Just because you have a hospital doesn’t mean everything’s going to be good,” he added. “I don’t know if making it a hospital would change anything.”

On the crucial issue of health care, Negron didn’t toe the party line.

Asked about efforts by Republicans in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, Negron answered that “when we make sweeping statements like repeal and replace, there’s just an assumption that everything within the Affordable Care Act is bad. I believe that there are some good tenets in the Affordable Care Act.”

He did offer that he’s “a huge proponent of tax reform,” which is now at the top of the to-do list for the White House and GOP leaders in Congress.

“As a small-business owner, I believe that things need to be simplified, and they can be,” Negron said. “I think it needs to be fair and just across the board.”

And he predicted that the legislation that emerges will be a bipartisan bill.

Negron said he supported Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in the GOP battle during last year’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. And he offered a lukewarm response when asked what he thought of Trump’s job so far as president.

“I may not necessarily always agree with what the President is saying, but he, to this point, is my president,” Negron said.

“I didn’t always agree with the previous presidents, but at the end of the day the people spoke,” he added. “That’s the individual who holds the Oval Office. And we may disagree with them and there’s ways to vocalize your disagreement, but I think we have to be able to try and move some of things forward that he’s trying to do for the country.”

Negron set up an exploratory committee before formally jumping into the race last Friday. The move allowed him to raise money as he decided whether to run. In announcing his campaign, Negron highlighted that he’d raised more than $120,000. But the vast majority of that money is Negron’s. He made a $21,000 contribution and loaned his campaign an additional $95,000.

Negron explained to the Monitor that he had previously said he would announce $100,000 when launching his bid.

“Would it have been better if it was $100,000 from outside donors? Absolutely. But people need to see that I am putting my money where I believe it needs to be, and I believe that will be a draw,” he said. “It’s a big step to show people that I’m very serious about this race.”

Negron added that if needed, “I’m willing to put more in. But I got to tell you, I feel very confident about this.”

Negron also reported nearly $97,000 cash on hand at the end of the third quarter, far more than the $20,000 Flanagan had in the bank at the end of September. Levenson didn’t declare his candidacy until after the third quarter, and thus didn’t have to file a report with the Federal Election Commission.

Kuster brought in $426,000 during the July-September period, and reported more than $2 million cash on hand.

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