Garcia blasts 'paternalistic' federal government as she announces run for Congress
State Rep. Marilinda Garcia, R-Salem, smiles after announcing her candidacy for the 2nd Congressional District on Wednesday in Concord. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
Garcia, 30, surrounded by dozens of family and supporters, said the woman she hopes to oust from the seat, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, "endorsed the very policies" that have the nation heading on a downward trajectory toward a "dead-end."
After the announcement, Garcia's campaign rolled out the names of 70 Republican lawmakers it said are backing her.
She so far faces former state Sen. Gary Lambert in a Republican primary in September. Lambert announced his candidacy last September; Garcia filed her candidacy in November.
A staunch conservative who has the backing of former New Hampshire House speaker William O'Brien, Garcia said that in the mid-term elections, "We can continue along the same trajectory, or we can chose to stop our country's move toward a dead end."
A women of Hispanic and Italian descent, Garcia said, after her announcement she intends to stick to her principles but also hopes to help broaden the party.
She said the Republican Party has done a poor job "communicating what it is we believe and our vision for the country.
"I just intend to communicate my message, and if, by virtue of being who I am, that helps expand our base, that's great," she said.
Garcia has already been cast as a right-wing "Kim Kardashian" by a Democratic lawmaker, who also referred to her as a conservative in "stiletto heels."
She said Wednesday she does not know what else "is coming down the pipeline at me. Obviously, there has been some mean-spiritedness already."
The nation's problems -- "a $17 trillion debt, less respect from foreign leaders with respect to our strength and exceptionality, our plague of chronically high unemployment" -- are the result of choices made at recent elections, Garcia said in her announcement.
"It means bigger and more government and top-down, broadly applied decision-making, and the continued loss of the American constants of individual responsibility and a slide toward collectivism and progressivism," she said.
In Washington, she said, "The entire decision-making process has become corrupt" and Americans have reason to believe they "are being purposely deceived by the highest office-holders in the land," citing the Affordable Care Act.
The health care law, she said, contains "special perks and exemptions for the politically-connected, a government bailout of insurance companies," while average Americans "experience higher costs, restricted access and poorer quality care."
Also, she said, "The continuous flow of government mandates, regulations and taxes are literally making it impossible for local government to solve local problems," while innovators and entrepreneurs "have diminishing incentives and resources to wade through them."
She said she wants to "empower local communities and families" and called for rejection of "the statist, elitist, paternalistic ideology that has, for a century, been undermining and subverting our constitutionally based system of limited government and separation of powers, federalism, individual liberty and personal responsibility," said Garcia.
Garcia was a member of the House leadership team when it took on a Tea Party look under O'Brien, before being voted out of power in 2012.
She said that during that time, the Republican-led House "responsibly cut spending by 18 percent and balanced a budget without raising taxes.
"Such results are possible on the federal level, as well," she said.
Garcia was encouraged to run by local conservatives and backers of conservative financiers Charles and David Koch brothers, founders of the issue advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. A consulting firm set up by the Kochs is handling her campaign.
Democrats wasted no time casting her and Lambert as "two peas in a pod who have spent their entire political careers rubber-stamping" an "extreme right-wing agenda.
"Both have repeatedly sided with the far right leaders of their party, voting to kill jobs and oppose a woman's right to choose, and trying to deny marriage licenses to same sex couples. Marilinda Garcia's announcement makes one thing certain: the Tea Party will have a standard bearer running in November one way or the other," said Marc Brumer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Garcia said that while she "will come to the table with my principles," she will "work with anybody who believes that we can come together to solve our nation's problems."
She said Republicans and independents will have a clear choice in the September primary between her and Lambert.
"We have quite different backgrounds and profiles," she said, noting that she has more legislative experience than both Lambert and Kuster combined.
Garcia has said she hopes to bring a youthful and diverse perspective to a Republican Party she described last year as "being populated mostly with old white men."
Garcia, whose mother is from Italy and father is of Hispanic descent from New Mexico, believes the GOP needs to broaden its appeal.
She told the Union Leader last November, "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."
Garcia has lived in Salem since she was a young child and was 23 when elected to the New Hampshire House. She has served as co-chairman of the House Republican caucus and majority whip, and is currently a member of the House Finance Committee.
With bachelor's 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.
She said after her announcement that she is neither a "huge fan" nor a "detractor of U.S. House speaker John Boehner but hopes the House "would be more effective and curbing some of the waste and misguided policy that Washington is pumping out these days"
She also said that sticking to principles is sometimes preferable to reaching consensus, saying, "I don't think working across the aisle is necessarily an end in itself."
Kuster is viewed as vulnerable in her bid for a second term, but she has also proven to be a strong fund-raiser. Garcia said that while she is only getting started on the fund-raising front, she expects to raise enough money to be competitive in the primary and general election.
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.
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