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.
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.
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.
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)
Ann McLane Kuster for Congress
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