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Congressional Race: Carson, Birdsell throw support behind Edwards

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 08. 2018 9:13PM

MANCHESTER - Two female state senators endorsed 1st Congressional District Republican candidate Eddie Edwards and warned victory for his primary rival State Sen. Andy Sanborn would drag down the entire Republican ticket.

Sens. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, and Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, are both veterans and accused Sanborn of disrespecting Edwards' U.S. Navy service by labeling him a "government insider."

An Army veteran, Carson is Senate president pro tem, the highest-ranking woman in the Legislature.

Carson said Sanborn has made sexually inappropriate comments to staff and colleagues and his nomination would invite liberal special interests to come in to bankroll a fall campaign against him.

Even the Republicans' control of the state Senate is at risk if Sanborn wins the primary Tuesday, Carson said.

"The me-too groups, all the nonprofits are going to pour in millions of dollars into this race, and it's going to hurt the entire ticket," Carson said.

"This puts the New Hampshire Senate in minority hands as well if Sanborn is the nominee."

Birdsell, a Coast Guard veteran, said she recently decided to back Edwards after getting an attack mailer from Sanborn, who charged Edwards was part of the "swamp."

"Anyone who equates military service as a part of the swamp doesn't deserve to represent me in Washington, D.C."

Ethan Zorfas, a GOP consultant who advises Sanborn, said Carson has not been a true conservative.

"Make no mistake about it, if New Hampshire Republicans lose the state Senate this fall it will be because of liberal Republicans like Sharon Carson, who have consistently voted to raise taxes, grow the budget, expand Obamacare and stop Right to Work," Zorfas said.

"It's no surprise she supports like-minded Eddie Edwards. Granite Staters are sick and tired of politicians like Sharon Carson who talk conservatively then go behind closed doors and govern like liberals. Carson floated running for this very Congressional seat but knew her liberal voting record would be a non-starter in a competitive primary."

Friday's press conference had some of the same themes as one two weeks ago that the Edwards campaign hosted at the same location, the Hilton Garden Inn in Manchester.

For the first time Edwards explained why he didn't become a registered Republican until he left law enforcement and ran for public office, first unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat.

"When I served my country and I served in law enforcement I registered as in independent and that was appropriate," Edwards said.

"My personal views should not be represented in law enforcement."

When Edwards was South Hampton's police chief, he said he incited speculation that he was a "closet Republican" because he posted that he liked Fox News on Facebook.

"That's why I dumped my social media account until I retired from law enforcement," Edwards said.

Earlier Friday, U.S. Sen. and 2016 Republican presidential contender Rand Paul of Kentucky starred at a rally for Sanborn at Southern New Hampshire University.

Sanborn had endorsed Paul's 2016 run for the White House.

"This is something that I know in my heart and in my head from Andy Sanborn's record, from seeing him work for a decade, from his support of my father and for me and for the liberty movement, from consistently being there day in and day out in the Legislature - Andy Sanborn is a conservative," Paul said.

"Andy Sanborn is someone who believes in limited government, who takes his oath to defend the Constitution seriously, and I promise you Andy Sanborn will be the same thing if you send him to Washington."

Sen. Harold French, R-Franklin, is the only one of Sanborn's 13 colleagues in the Senate to endorse him, but five former senators are also backing Sanborn, including former Senate President Peter Bragdon of Milford.

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