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Thursday, July 31, 2014

2nd district congressional debate gets feisty

MANCHESTER – During their first debate today, Republican congressional candidates Gary Lambert, of Nashua, and Marilinda Garcia, of Salem, sniped at one another over campaign finances and their voting records in the New Hampshire Legislature.

Jim Lawrence, of Hudson, the third major hopeful called the Lambert vs. Garcia flap over campaign donations “a distraction” from pressing issues that matter most to voters. ...

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MANCHESTER – During their first debate today, Republican congressional candidates Gary Lambert, of Nashua, and Marilinda Garcia, of Salem, sniped at one another over campaign finances and their voting records in the New Hampshire Legislature.

Jim Lawrence, of Hudson, the third major hopeful called the Lambert vs. Garcia flap over campaign donations “a distraction” from pressing issues that matter most to voters.

“I am not the national candidate in this race; I am not the Republican establishment candidate in this race,” Lawrence said. “I am fighting hard to show I am the conservative, grass-roots candidate in this race.”

Campaign aides for Lambert, a former state senator, and Garcia, a four-term New Hampshire House member, have accused their primary rival of intentionally breaking federal election laws.

Garcia’s staff alleges Lambert accepted $2,000 in illegal corporate and nonprofit company checks.

Lambert’s staff claims Garcia accepted excessive in-kind donations when she hosted a fundraiser last month at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

During this one-hour debate on WGIR-AM’s “NH Today with Jack Heath,” Lambert said he’s followed federal election laws.

“I haven’t done anything wrong, and that’s why I haven’t returned anything,” Lambert said. “We believe we have done everything correctly.”

Garcia said all her contributions were legal as well and took a passing shot at Lambert in referring to “irregularities” in his campaign finances.

“I was quite dismayed when I heard there was a press release and a statement accusing me of illegal activity,” Garcia said. “My campaign did nothing wrong.”

Lambert said 80 percent of his money has come from New Hampshire residents while all but 13 percent of donations to Garcia over the past three months came from outside the state.

“People are looking for where their support is coming from,” Lambert said.

Garcia pointed out that Congresswoman Ann Kuster, a Democrat, has a large campaign war chest and the GOP nominee needs to attract national financial support to beat her.

“The fact is Gary, we are running against Ann Kuster who already has $1.5 million,” Garcia said. “We need a viable candidate who is able to raise money beyond our state’s borders. This is a national race.”

Lambert further criticized Garcia for missing the House vote last spring to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income adults.

Garcia and Lambert have said they opposed this coverage option for states under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Later the same day of the House vote, Garcia attended a Washington, D.C., fundraiser.

“I don’t know where she was, in D.C. hobnobbing with special interest groups,” Lambert said. “Quite frankly, I think Representative Garcia was more concerned with her political career.”

Garcia fired back she wished Lambert had been absent and not voted as he did on a host of issues in 2011-12 legislative session, like opposing state approval of Common Core educational standards and supporting a regional greenhouse gas initiative.

“Those were votes I would have hoped you were absent for because we would have made great progress and you prevented that,” Garcia said.

On other issues, all three candidates said they support the pending lawsuit from House Republicans accusing President Barack Obama of using executive powers in violation of the federal Constitution.

They also endorsed a pending $17 billion reform of the scandal-ridden Veterans Administration.

While Lawrence opposes the Northern Pass project to bring hydro power from Quebec in any form, Garcia and Lambert would support the project if transmission lines along the entire corridor were buried.

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