Congressional debate tonight

Marilinda Garcia, Gary Lambert and Jim Lawrence, Republican candidates for the Congressional District II seat, will face off tonight at Franklin Pierce University in the second of the Monadnock Debates FPU is co-sponsoring with the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript and N.H. Public Television. The winner of the Republican ticket in the Sept. 9 primary will go against Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton) in the Nov. 4 General Election, who beat out Peterborough’s Charlie Bass, a Republican, in the 2012 General Election.

Both Garcia, 31, a Salem Republican who has served four terms in the N.H. House of Representatives, and Lambert, a Hudson businessman and former state representative, recently visited the Monadnock region, sharing a bit of their platforms with residents and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript.

Garcia, an adjunct professor teaching music at Phillips Exeter Academy and St. Paul’s School, said in an open meeting on July 22 with Monadnock Paper Mills Chairman Richard Verney that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, that the federal tax code needs reform, and that the four-year college track isn’t for everyone, noting the country should be investing in technical training for workers.

Garcia identified a number of problems in the state, which she sees as tied to a lagging economy. “As a whole, we weathered the recession in New Hampshire,” Garcia told Verney during their discussion of the state’s economy. “I’m not sure, though, when it comes to health care and energy, that we have a clear approach. The interaction between the state and federal governments hasn’t been friendly. We need to cultivate an atmosphere so companies can stay here and grow.”

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Lawrence is a consultant who works with the U.S. Department of Defense. He is the first African-American to run for Congress in New Hampshire. His focus in his recent visit to Peterborough was on limiting federal regulation and interference, citing the Affordable Care Act and Common Core as examples. He also noted the increasing burden on New Hampshire communities in funding education. Lawrence said he’s opposed to the Northern Pass, and its potential environmental impacts for the state.

“I would not substitute temporary infrastructure jobs for permanent tourism jobs,” Lawrence told the Ledger-Transcript Editorial Board.

Lawrence also had something to say about foreign policy, calling for the U.S. to show more of its might in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but he stopped short of suggesting that the U.S. send more military troops there. “Sanctions are a good start, but Putin’s not impressed,” Lawrence said. “How about if we provide arms to the Ukranians? That’s a decisive action.”

Not yet elected, Lambert — a Nashua attorney and retired Marine colonel who served one term in the N.H. Senate — has already said he would serve just three terms and will not take a congressional pension. It’s part of his “Wake Up Washington Pledge,” which he outlines on his campaign website, pointing to what he calls abuses by lifelong politicians who don’t do their jobs, but yet vote in favor of pay raises and other benefits for themselves.

“Everywhere I go in the 2nd District, from Nashua to Colebrook, and no matter who I talk to, Republican or Democrat, I find that we can almost always agree on this — Washington D.C. doesn’t seem to realize they work for us. Folks feel like Washington politicians need to be woken up to the fact that they do work for us — the people,” reads Lambert’s website.

In his talking points with constituents across the state, among other things, Lambert’s discussed the need to reduce the cost of health care, calling for the repeal of Obamacare.

Lambert spent six months in Iraq serving as a Marine lawyer in 2004.

With not much time before the primary to differentiate themselves, the election is in danger of coming down to how much each of the candidates has in the coffers to beat out Kuster. According to financial reports recently released by the Federal Elections Commission, Lambert had $305,900 cash on hand at the end of the second quarter, while Garcia had $124,605 and Lawrence, had $22,600; Kuster had $1,736,957 available to spend.

Michael Little of Concord has also filed for the Republican nomination in this race, but is not scheduled to participate in the debate.

The U.S. Senate race

The third and final debate in the series before the primary is scheduled for Thursday, between candidates for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat. The candidates participating are Robert D’Arcy, Mark Farnham, Bob Hegmann, Walt Kelly, Andy Martin and Bob Smith.

Scott Brown, the former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, declined an offer to participate, as did Gerard Beloin, Miroslaw “Miro” Dziedzic and Jim Rubens. The winner of the Republican primary will face longtime New Hampshire politician U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Madbury Democrat.

Among those participating in Thursday’s debate, Smith, a Merrimack resident, represented New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District from 1985 to 1990 and the U.S. Senate from 1990 to 2003. He ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2000 and for the U.S. Senate from Florida in both 2004 and 2010. He left the Republican Party for a short time to become an independent, citing frustrations with the Republican hierarchy, but later returned to the fold.

The free public debates will be held at 6 p.m. tonight and Thursday in Spagnulo Hall on the FPU campus.

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