In 2006, the netroots helped Paul Hodes win the House seat for New Hampshire's second district, defeating six-term Republican Charlie Bass by seven points (just two years after he lost to Bass by 20 points). This year, Hodes is running for Senate, and we need to be sure that he is replaced in NH-02 not just by another Democrat but by a tough progressive Democrat.
In the Republican primary, Charlie Bass is running against 2008 nominee Jennifer Horn. Both are unacceptable and we must keep the seat out of their hands. But our first priority is the Democratic primary.
That Democratic primary features a clear choice: Strong progressive Ann McLane Kuster or Lieberdem Katrina Swett. (A third candidate, John DeJoie, has neither raised the money nor established the volunteer organization needed to effectively challenge for the seat.)
Kuster is our kind of candidate, as you'll see from her answers to the Orange to Blue questionnaire. She supports the public option, the Employee Free Choice Act, non-punitive immigration reform, and environmental regulation. Not only does she want to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, she wants to repeal DOMA, and she worked to help bring marriage equality to New Hampshire. The Orange to Blue questions didn't ask about Afghanistan, but Kuster's position there is also worth mentioning:
While I am pleased that the President has decided to set a timetable for drawing down our troops in Afghanistan, I do not agree with the decision to first send 30,000 additional troops. It is not clear that sending more combat troops is the best way to meet the real threat, as Al Qaeda disperses to Pakistan and other countries. This is particularly important as our military has been strained by six years of fighting in Iraq and eight years of fighting in Afghanistan.Policy statements aren't the only thing we see of a candidate, though. You also have to look at how they run their campaigns. Do they ignore the grassroots, or embrace it? Kuster has sent the right signals there, too. Right now, she's in the middle of doing thirty house parties in thirty days, meeting with voters all around the district. Last quarter, her average contribution was $57, and she has gotten contributions from more than 5,000 people.
I believe we need better cooperation and accountability from the Afghani government and we must demand a commitment from them to root out corruption. Instead of more troops, we should be sending more trainers to help the Afghan military provide better security for its citizens. Rather than a broad counterinsurgency, we need a narrowly focused mission, with clear, measurable goals for success. Our involvement can’t be a blank check, and I appreciate the President’s attempts to focus our mission.
And then there's Katrina Swett. The daughter of the late Tom Lantos and wife of former NH-02 Rep. Dick Swett, she has always relied on massive fundraising to secure her viability as a candidate. In 2007, as a candidate for Senate (she dropped out when Jeanne Shaheen entered the race), she wasn't shy about saying her money and her name made her the candidate to beat. Yet in 2002, her money did not help her: She ran against Charlie Bass and lost by 16 points despite outspending him by more than half a million dollars.
Having a lot of big-money donors doesn't automatically mean you suck on the issues, of course. Having been Joe Lieberman's 2004 national co-chair, on the other hand, does. Having continued to support him over "pretty-far-left-of-center Democrat" Ned Lamont after Lieberman lost the Democratic primary really does.
Still not convinced that Katrina Swett would be an unacceptable Democratic nominee in NH-02? Well, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Organization for Women, and Emily's List all endorsed Kuster when it was common knowledge that Swett would be entering the race. There's a reason for that. Kuster is a strong advocate for choice; Swett is not.
We only add candidates in contested primaries to Orange to Blue when there's an absolutely clear choice, and that's certainly the case here. Ann McLane Kuster is an excellent candidate in her own right, an outspoken progressive who is running a campaign in touch with the grassroots of her state. And the alternative would be a major step back for the House Democratic caucus.
(Orange to Blue answers below the fold)
1) Do you support:
a) A public health insurance option, offered by the federal government and tied to Medicare reimbursement rates plus 5% (H.R. 3200 § 223, as introduced in the House)?
b) The Public Option Act (H.R. 4789), which would allow all citizens to buy into Medicare?
I have been and will continue to be a champion for a strong public option. I’ve campaigned on it all year, and I believe that the health care reform law that passed recently was a good start that needs to be improved on, and that is exactly what I will do in Congress. I support it because I believe the area most in need of further improvement in health care reform is cost containment, and I think that the competition provided by a strong public insurance option will do exactly that – and frankly, while I am very proud that we are expanding health insurance coverage to 31 million Americans, I am also concerned that if we do that without further controlling costs, insurance companies may be able to reap massive profits.
If I am elected to Congress, I will pursue the best way to pass a public insurance option at that time, and I would likely support either of these approaches you cited – but I know that the health care landscape will change dramatically in the next year as the reform begins to phase in, and I am not wedded to one approach to passing the public insurance option at the exclusion of others.
2) Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409/S. 560), including the provision known as "card check"?
3) Do you support a repeal of the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (10 U.S.C. § 654)?
Yes. I also support repealing the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and I have worked here in my home state to help make New Hampshire the 5th state in the country to officially and legally recognize full marriage equality.
4) Do you agree that any immigration reform bill should:
a) Contain a meaningful path to citizenship - one that does not include overly-punitive fines or a touchback requirement - for law-abiding undocumented immigrants currently in the United States;
b) Ensure that expanded legal permanent immigration, rather than expansion of temporary worker programs, serves as the United States' primary external answer to workforce shortages; and
c) Ensure that any non-agricultural temporary worker programs maintain
current caps on the total number of non-agricultural temporary worker visas issued, and also include a meaningful prevailing wage requirement keyed to the Service Contract Act and Davis-Bacon Act?
Yes. Sensible immigration reform will improve our economy, our homeland security, and the lives of everyone who lives in our country. Illegal immigration is hurting our country, but legal immigration is part of what has made America great for over 200 years.
I believe immigration reform must include a path to citizenship that rewards those who work hard, obey the law, and love our country. I don’t support a punitive ‘touchback’ requirement and I believe that the path to citizenship should include fair fines (such as back taxes owed), with a realistic path towards payment so that undocumented workers don’t try to continue living in the shadows instead. I believe expanded permanent legal immigration strengthens our country and is always preferable to temporary worker programs. I do think that there is a place for some temporary worker programs in our immigration mix, because in a state like my home of New Hampshire, these workers have helped create new companies and grow jobs, and often such temporary visas are a path toward a green card and citizenship.
But programs like this must be closely monitored to insure they aren’t used by employers to lower wages and pressure American workers to accept the wages of the developing world. The best way to do that is to require guest workers to be paid the prevailing wage in that locality consistent with the Service Contract and Davis-Bacon Acts, and that we should always find ways to prioritize permanent residency and citizenship over temporary visas.
5) Do you think Congress should act to suspend regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency?
I was glad the EPA recognized what the scientific community has been saying for years – greenhouse gas emissions are harmful and should be regulated that way. I’m strongly opposed to Congress trying to suspend or overrule that decision.
6) If elected to the House, do you pledge not to join the Blue Dog