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1st CD Dems go after the front-runners at forum

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 30. 2018 9:54PM
District 1 congressional candidate Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth speaks as Chris Pappas of Manchester, center, and Paul Cardinal of Merrimack look on during the New Hampshire Democratic Party's candidate forum at Manchester Community College on Thursday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)



MANCHESTER — Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth and Chris Pappas of Manchester, the best-known and best-financed of the 11 Democrats running in the 1st Congressional District, came under attack from their primary rivals during a party-sponsored forum Thursday night.

Sullivan was criticized for how much out-of-state money she is taking and her short tenure in the state.

“One of them, Maura Sullivan, tried her hand first in Illinois then to Virginia and decided New Hampshire was the place to do district shopping because New Hampshire would be a cheaper state,” said Deaghlan McEachern of Portsmouth to scattered boos from the audience at the Manchester Community College forum.

“You guys have the power to get money out of politics by not voting for her.”

And they assailed Pappas as a party insider who had timid ideas.

“If we elect somebody like Chris Pappas who doesn’t believe in a Medicare-for-all system, that will be an embarrassment for the United Sates of America as well as the people of New Hampshire,” said Levi Sanders of Claremont, the only son of 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary winner Bernie Sanders.

Even the least-known candidates — Paul Cardinal of Merrimack and William Martin of Manchester — got into the act.

“If you think candidates should spend more than 15 months living in New Hampshire then I hope you will consider me,” Cardinal said.

Martin said unlike any other candidate, no one owns him.

“I have not taken a dime from anyone,” said Martin. “I believe a New Hampshire election should only be funded by New Hampshire voters.”

District 1 congressional candidate Chris Pappas of Manchester speaks during the New Hampshire Democratic Party's candidate forum. Listening are from left, candidates Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth, Paul Cardinal of Merrimack and Levi Sanders of Claremont. The event was held Thursday evening at Manchester Community College. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

State Rep. Mindi Messmer, D-Rye, said the promises from Sullivan and Pappas to fight for the little guy ring hollow when both have taken large campaign donations from corporate executives.

“They are not grassroots; they are astro-turf,” Messmer said.

Rochester City Attorney and Iraq war veteran Terence O’Rourke of Alton said voters are ready for candidates who support bold ideas like a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

“How do we take this party back? We are going to do it by electing actual Democrats and not nominating compromise candidates,” O’Rourke said.

As the former chief of staff to retiring U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, Naomi Andrews of Epping said she rejected big money in running Shea-Porter campaigns and she would lead the fight for campaign finance reform.

“I want politics to be won by the people with the biggest ideas, not with the biggest checks,” Andrews said.

A former president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO union and retired firefighter Mark McKenzie of Manchester alluded to the thinner resume of some of his rivals.

“There is nobody in this group who has spent more time in public government,” McKenzie said. “Welcome to the fight because I have been doing this for 40 years and many of these people I have never seen.” 

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran who worked in two agencies during the Obama administration, Sullivan said she won’t apologize for raising the most money in the campaign.

“I have not taken a dime of corporate PAC money in this campaign and I was the first candidate to say I won’t take any NRA money and I’ve come under attack from the NRA,” Sullivan said.

Pappas said he’s managed to run and win three times in the most Republican-leaning seat on the Executive Council.

“I am ready for the fight that is ahead. We have got to win this seat. We have no other choice,” Pappas said.

The 11th candidate, former Strafford County Attorney Lincoln Soldati of Somersworth, said he showed political courage in becoming the first prosecutor to call for repealing the death penalty.

“Many people suggested doing so would end my career as a prosecutor and I’m proud to say I was re-elected overwhelmingly.” Soldati said.

The candidates offered similar views on a range of issues from gun control and climate change to campaign reform.

All these hopefuls are invited to take part in the only televised debate of this race next Wednesday night at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on the campus of St. Anselm College.

The New Hampshire Union Leader and WMUR are co-sponsoring four nights of debates in the major primary races next week.

klandrigan@unionleader.com


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