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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hudson man enters 2nd Congressional District race

Hudson Republican Jim Lawrence says he has a unique skill set to become the next 2nd District congressman beyond the fact he’s the first African-American in state history to seek federal office.

Lawrence, 42, said unlike Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-N.H., or his two Republican rivals, he has made a career out of making federal agencies more efficient and saving taxpayers millions of dollars. ...

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Hudson Republican Jim Lawrence says he has a unique skill set to become the next 2nd District congressman beyond the fact he’s the first African-American in state history to seek federal office.

Lawrence, 42, said unlike Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-N.H., or his two Republican rivals, he has made a career out of making federal agencies more efficient and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

All three GOP candidates served as state legislators: Lawrence, three terms in the state House of Representatives, from 2002-08; Gary Lambert, of Nashua, two years in the Senate, from 2010-12; and Marilinda Garcia, seven years in the House, where she currently represents Salem.

“As a small-business Department of Defense contractor, I have saved millions of taxpayer dollars,” Lawrence said, “and I want to bring that experience to D.C. to save money in other departments.”

Lawrence runs Lawrence Battelle, a firm based on Chestnut Street in Nashua that does financial, program management, engineering and information technology services with the military and private contractors.

“We look at not only the purchase price of the equipment for the soldiers in the field, but decision management for use of that equipment that can save taxpayer dollars,” Lawrence said. “You really only make that purchase once; it’s how you make use of it that can really generate cost savings.”

Lawrence made his first campaign speech Wednesday night before the Hudson Republican Town Committee.

Since announcing his candidacy last week, Lawrence said he hasn’t received much national recognition as the first African-American candidate here, and that’s fine with him.

“What I love about New Hampshire is it’s a state where voters make choices based on the strength of your ideas, not your race,” Lawrence said. “I saw that when I ran and won three times for the House in Concord.”

Since leaving the Legislature in 2009, Lawrence said he has been approached by supporters to explore running for higher office.

“This is something I’ve been thinking about off and on for a while. I left the Legislature because my business was growing and so were my young children, and I wanted to be able to spend more time with them,” said Lawrence, a father of three.

“I have been getting a great response from the grass-roots activists, and it’s really encouraging to see.”

Lawrence, a native of the New York City borough of the Bronx, said a defining moment for him came after his mother died from breast cancer when he was 21.

“Upon graduating high school, I received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy, and at the age of 17, I began my military service,” Lawrence said. “I often sent my pay home to help defray the mounting medical bills for my mother’s treatments.

“When I was 21, my mother lost her long battle with breast cancer. This event made me want to make more of a difference in the world.”

Lawrence was critical of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, noting the absolute pullout of all U.S. forces in Iraq has recently led to widespread sectarian violence.

And Lawrence said he would never have supported “trading terrorists” at Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba for the release of U.S. solider Bowe Bergdahl.

Lawrence said he supports repeal of the Affordable Care Act; more options for students to traditional public schools, such as charter, private and home schools; and would work to reduce government red tape that makes it difficult for small businesses to compete.

Kuster’s defense of the trade for Bergdahl and stumbling over a question regarding the tragic slaying of an American ambassador in Benghazi moved Lawrence to get into this race months after Garcia and Lambert had, Lawrence said.

“Congresswoman Kuster does not vote for the citizens of New Hampshire,” Lawrence said. “She votes for the party bosses in Washington.

“I want to put New Hampshire back in the driver’s seat.”

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).