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Friday, August 1, 2014

Hudson Republican Jim Lawrence looks to bring business experience to Washington

NASHUA – As a small-business owner, Hudson Republican Jim Lawrence said he has first-hand experience with the problems government regulations can create.

Lawrence, a defense industry consultant and candidate for U.S. Congress, said he will work to shrink the size of government and lower spending if voters send him to Washington to replace Democrat Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District. ...

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NASHUA – As a small-business owner, Hudson Republican Jim Lawrence said he has first-hand experience with the problems government regulations can create.

Lawrence, a defense industry consultant and candidate for U.S. Congress, said he will work to shrink the size of government and lower spending if voters send him to Washington to replace Democrat Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District.

“It’s virtually impossible for small businesses to grow in this economy right now,” he said Wednesday during a meeting with The Telegraph’s editorial board. “Something has to change.”

A former New Hampshire lawmaker, Lawrence became the fourth Republican to jump into the congressional race last month.

He said he was motivated to challenge Kuster because other GOP contenders weren’t talking about issues that matter to New Hampshire voters, such as illegal immigration, the economy and President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

“I felt I had to get in this race,” he said.

Border security

Since she took office in 2013, Kuster has supported Obama more than 95 percent of the time, Lawrence said, enabling the president to advance an agenda that weakened the economy, reduced choices for health care coverage and facilitated the current border crisis.

With scores of children entering the U.S. illegally, Lawrence said the country must strengthen its borders, and he pinned blame on Kuster for votes that he said deepened the immigration crisis.

He pointed to Kuster’s 2013 vote against a Republican-backed amendment that would have prohibited immigration officials from exercising discretion in cases involving people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Lawrence said all child immigrants should be treated equally, regardless of how they entered the U.S. or their country of origin. He said the country should increase the number of judges available for asylum hearings, and that any long-term immigration reform must begin with tighter security.

“We’ve got to stop the droves of illegal immigrants that are pouring across the border,” he said.

Government, business

Lawrence, 42, previously served three terms in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and worked as a subcontractor to the Department of Defense at Lawrence Battelle, his consulting firm, after leaving military service.

Lawrence said his business experience has shown him how government programs, such as the president’s health care reform efforts, can be harmful. Lawrence supports repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, saying he hasn’t found any facet of the bill that should be maintained.

Energy policy is another area in which Lawrence said government regulation can hamper growth. He said he would oppose new taxes or excessive regulations on the energy industry and would vote to authorize an extension of the Keystone Pipeline.

However, Lawrence said New Hampshire’s interests would be his foremost concern. Lawrence opposes the Northern Pass project because he believes it would take jobs out of the state and impact its natural resources.

As a certified ski instructor, Lawrence said he’s familiar with the trails in northern New Hampshire, and feels Northern Pass – an effort to bring electricity from Canada through northern New Hampshire – would be detrimental to recreational areas in the North Country.

Religious views

A father of eight, Lawrence is Catholic and is a pro-life candidate. He said he agrees with the Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing some employers with religious objections to no longer cover the cost of certain contraceptives as part of their health care packages.

“I do believe that it’s a business (and) property rights issue,” he said. “Does a business have a right to make decisions as to how it’s going to spend its money? To me, it’s not a public policy issue. It’s a property issue.”

While he attends church and is guided by his faith, Lawrence said he believes in separating religious views from policy making. When it comes to his own business, Lawrence said the firm hasn’t made any plans to change its health care coverage in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

National defense

Lawrence said his background in streamlining federal spending gives him a distinct advantage over his opponents in the Sept. 9 Republican primary.

When it comes to defense spending, he said the country should look for ways to increase efficiency and eliminate functions that are redundant, while also maintaining a strong defensive posture. Accomplishing those goals requires making smart decisions about when to deploy troops around the world, he said.

“You need to use your military wisely and make sure that when you have them somewhere, you have a national interest at stake that you’re defending there,” he said. “It’s not a police force for the world.”

He said the U.S. should reaffirm its commitment to its allies, including Israel and Ukraine, where a conflict with global implications continues to develop. History has proven that weakness gives enemies the opportunity to encroach, he said, and Obama’s foreign policy decisions have emboldened the country’s enemies.

“We cannot have a strong foreign policy without having a strong defense,” he said. “No doubt about it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we always have to put boots on the ground.”

Gridlock in Congress

Lawrence said he stuck to his guns while serving in the Statehouse, and voters can expect him to uphold his principles if elected to Congress. However, serving in the Legislature also gave him experience working with opponents and building coalitions.

Lawrence said he’s willing to work with members of both parties as long as they’re right on the issues. He said he was encouraged by the recent example of Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rand Paul, a R-Ky., working together on a bill that could help people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses find work.

“Let’s face facts,” he said. “It starts with me. It starts with every election being about electing someone who’s going to go down and affect positive change.”

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).