The race for Congress in New Hampshire’s 2nd District is largely a repeat of 2018’s contest. Incumbent Democrat Annie Kuster easily kept her seat two years ago, beating Nashua businessman Steve Negron and Libertarian Justin O’Donnell. This time around, she faces Negron and Libertarian candidate Andrew Olding, also of Nashua.
We don’t see any more reason to replace Kuster in office than we did two years ago. In fact, just the opposite.
Knowledgeable on a variety of issues, Kuster has been a force in veterans’ issues throughout her time in Washington. She pushed for a regional clinic in Keene that lessens the wait and driving times veterans face for some care. Later, she worked for the Veterans Choice Program, which allows vets to access care outside the VA system. She’s also led on addressing the opioid crisis, forming the Congressional Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force and working to bring millions of dollars in aid to the state to fight the epidemic.
In the past two years, she’s continued that work and stepped up on the coronavirus pandemic as well, working with her congressional colleagues and Gov. Chris Sununu on efforts to bring aid to the state’s businesses and citizens. Her push for better rural broadband reach, which began pre-COVID, may make it easier for workers to go remote, students to learn online and patients to receive telemedical care.
She’s helped usher funding for key Monadnock Region employers including, most recently, for a new wastewater system for biopharmaceutical manufacturer MilliporeSigma in Jaffrey, which is involved in coronavirus vaccine work.
All in all, she continues to be an effective voice for the region and state in Congress.
Negron is a retired Air Force officer who now owns a Defense-related consulting firm. His strength is that experience in the functioning of the military, and a dedication to addressing the national debt. To his credit, he’s remained a consistent voice for debt reduction and lowering the deficit — though not so much that he’d be willing to roll back the Trump tax cuts to do it. He’d rather cut spending across the board. On pandemic aid, he said he’s all for it, as long as the funds are directly tied to dealing with the virus, which would seem to rule out any kind of economic stimulus, aid to states and municipalities or other spending to get through the economic crisis.
Though Negron seems more comfortable speaking on the issues, his views seem similar to those he expressed during his first run at the seat, when he mostly just vowed to be an ally of President Donald Trump. This time around, he still seems a fan of Trump — saying he felt the president did the best he could on the COVID pandemic with the information he had available. Reminded the president knew much more, much earlier about the danger of the virus than he was willing to admit, Negron repeated Trump’s line that the president just didn’t want to cause a panic.
One issue that’s much more prominent this time around is racial justice. In the wake of the George Floyd killing and subsequent nationwide protests, Negron’s response is that, well, things are better now than they were in 1950. That’s a pretty tone-deaf view, it seems to us, even if, as he noted, he’s Latino, and has experienced racism himself.
Olding is on the ballot largely because a judge, citing the pandemic, lowered the bar for the number of signatures needed to do so. He hasn’t been a presence in this region and will likely not be much of a factor in the race.
Our endorsement here is for Kuster, who continues to work hard and grow in the position and who gives every reason to think she’ll be better at the job than her challengers.