MANCHESTER — A Republican primary is shaping up in the state’s 2nd Congressional District.
Believing that “maybe the future is now,” 30-year-old conservative state Rep. Marilinda Garcia of Salem will file papers today to become a candidate for the seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster.
Garcia, in her fourth term in the New Hampshire House, said she hopes to bring a youthful perspective to a Republican Party she recently described as “being populated mostly with old white men.”
Garcia faces primary opposition from 54-year-old Marine Reserves colonel and former one-term state Sen. Gary Lambert of Nashua, who announced his candidacy in September.
Garcia, whose mother is from Italy and father is of Hispanic descent from New Mexico, believes the GOP needs to broaden its appeal.
“Yes,” she reiterated in an interview Friday, “there is a stereotype about the Republican Party at this point. It does concern me, so I feel it’s incumbent on me to be the change you want to see.”
Rising through GOP ranks
Garcia has lived in Salem since she was a young child and was 23 when elected to the New Hampshire House. She has risen through the GOP ranks, served as co-chairman of the House Republican caucus and majority whip, and is currently a member of the powerful House Finance Committee.
With bachelors degrees from Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music and with a Masters of Public Policy degree from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, she was named by the Republican National Committee last year as a member of its new “Rising Stars” initiative.
Garcia said she hopes to bring to Washington the same conservative principles she said guided the 2011-2012 GOP-led New Hampshire Legislature to close what she said was an $800 million budget shortfall.
“I’ve learned as a state representative the federal government isn’t the answer to our state problems, and most of the large issues we’ve had to deal with and our largest budget issues, are a direct result of federal intervention and mandates, the Affordable Care Act being the most recent.”
She called for the “full repeal of Obamacare” and removal of other “obstacles to business development and job creation.”
Garcia is an adjunct professor of music at Phillips Exeter Academy and said she also works in the cyber-security field. She formerly worked as a court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children at the Salem District Court.
An accomplished harpist, she occasionally performed with her sister, state Rep. Bianca Garcia, a flutist, as The Seraphim Duo.
Garcia has been politically active with the national Republican Party and with the Republicans’ GOPAC Hispanic Leadership Training Institute.
“It’s important to me that my generation step up, have a voice and claim responsibility in decision-making about the future of our country,” she said.
She said Kuster “supports and endorses most, if not all, of the adversarial policies that the current administration is pushing. Our current representation is not making the kinds of decisions necessary to help New Hampshire govern itself as New Hampshire citizens want.
“I’ve never had a long-term political ambition in mind for myself, but in the last few months, circumstances have led me to do serious introspection and decide that if I ever were to consider running for higher office in the future, maybe the future is now,” she said.
“Americans are tired of what seems to be complete dysfunction in Washington. We have to change the kind of people we’re sending there.
“So much of what we do in the state Legislature is damage control on what’s coming down the pipeline from the federal government,” Garcia said. “I can’t stand by while our state continues to be hurt by an overreaching federal government. It concerns me when I see the way these federal policies punish entrepreneurship and really limit our freedom.”
She said, “If my participation shows we actually have a diverse Republican Party, with a lot of women and young people acting on our current concerns and turning away from what we see from the failed policies of government expansion and redistribution of wealth that the current administration is promoting, I think we can have a profound effect.”
She described U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte as a role model.Garcia said she has set up the basic structure of a campaign organization with “professionals and volunteers,” although, she said, he has not hired anyone from the “New Hampshire political glitterati” to work with her.
Her campaign consultant and media contact is Brad Stevens of Aegis Strategic LLC, a former Nebraska state director of the conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity.
Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced that Gary Lambert has reached fundraising and campaign organization benchmarks that place him “on the radar” to become a part of its “Young Guns” program for top-tier races.
Garcia said she also hopes to reach that level with the NRCC when her campaign gets up and running.
“I’ll be aggressively fund-raising and aggressively out there in all the corners of the second district, and just trying to earn people’s trust and support.”