Primary 2014: A Conversation With U.S. House Candidate Gary Lambert

Aug 20, 2014

Gary Lambert
Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

Gary Lambert served as a state Senator for a single term, and is now looking to represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District in Washington, D.C.

The attorney from Nashua also recently retired from the Marine Corps and is seeking to unseat Democrat Ann McLane Kuster.

Why are you running?

I’m running to continue to serve my country. Two months ago, I retired from the Marine Corps Reserve. Lot of active duty time, as well; active duty and reserve time. I look at the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. Quite frankly, I look at Annie Kuster, our current representative, and I believe I can do a better job. I don’t think Washington, D.C. is looking out for the middle class. They’re not looking out for Main Street. I am from middle class background and work on Main Street. I intend to bring those middle class, Main Street values down to Washington.

You are from a middle class background. You have a long career in the military. What are you doing now, what have you done in recent years that makes you think you can do a better job?

Well, first of all, I’ve got a family. That’s my most important job. I’ve got two daughters, married to my wife Laurie for 20 years. We’re both small business people. We’re both small business people. Laurie has her own business, as well. I’ve been serving my clients, serving my country. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life and that’s what I want to continue to do by going to Congress.

Let’s talk about what you’re hearing on the campaign trail. I know that you’ve said the Affordable Care Act is the biggest topic of conversation on the campaign trail, talking with small business people. What are people saying when you do meet them?

Access is going down, especially in the 2nd District. A lot of hospitals are out of the Obamacare program. Costs are going up, both in premiums and deductibles. It’s going up for both employers and employees. I was up at the Littleton Coin Company a little while ago and I heard the same thing from the employees as the employer up there as far as the cost of health care. It’s very concerning. A lot of people are very worried about it. Folks are still suffering from the recession so to speak and they’re out there doing two jobs, three jobs, part-time jobs. The last thing they need is an increase in health care costs.

It’s true that health care costs were generally increasing before the act and you’ve talked about possibly a repeal of the health care act. Is that realistic, given that there would probably be a presidential veto? What is the alternative?

We need to continue to dismantle it because it’s hurting people. The alternative is free market alternatives, such as buying across state lines, health savings accounts. The free market can handle this a lot better than government. Government hasn’t been very good at picking winners and losers. The free market does that.

Let’s talk about RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. When you were in the Senate, you did vote to keep it in New Hampshire. Why?

First of all, it was in place when I got there in the state Senate. And I looked at it from an economic, taxpayer point of view. If we had gotten out of RGGI, we still would have had to pay $5.6 million into that system because we’re tied in with the grid and our energy system. What we would not have received in return was $12 million in energy efficiency money. If you take a look at that math from the taxpayers’ point of view, from the best interest of the state, and decided to keep us in.

You’ve been quoted as saying that none of the people you are speaking to are talking about climate change at all. Should they be?

I think everything is important. I can tell you that finances, jobs, the economy, immigration, health care costs are way up on the scale compared to climate change. Every now and then it will come up, but I’m telling you the average person is not really concerned with that. They’re concerned about that 15th and the 30th of the month, when they can get their paycheck, what they’re going to have left after the paycheck. (Climate change) is coming out really on the low end of the scale.

You’ve been critical of fellow candidate Marilinda Garcia for raising money from outside the state. Isn’t that what it’s going to take to defeat Ann McLane Kuster?

I think what it takes is a grassroots effort and grassroots support and that’s where my support comes from. It comes from New Hampshire. Eighty percent of my money is coming from New Hampshire. And it’s not like I’ve been lacking on raising funds. I’ve done well there. I’ve got the most cash on hand of any candidate in this race. It shows that the people in New Hampshire look at me and think that I am the best person to run against Ann McLane Kuster and win.

You are a former Marine, just recently retired. What is your opinion of the veterans’ health care bill that was just signed into law?

It’s a start, but it leaves a lot to be desired. For example, we need to make sure our veterans get the care they deserve in the hospital in the town that they’re in. I don’t think it goes far enough. We’ve got a rot within the VA system. We’ve got a lot of corruption. We’ve still got the bonuses going on. We’ve got to get to the bottom of that and I don’t see this bill as doing that. I think we need a bottom-up review and I hope to do that when I get to Congress.

Even with some of the provisions in the bill, being able to get rid of some high-level VA officials that may be dead weight?

I think that’s a great start, but what I’m seeing from Congress – and I see it over and over again – is kicking the can down the road. They pass this bill, they go on a five-week vacation. What about everything else? It just seems like well, we fixed that problem. No, you didn’t fix it. There are still folks out there that are waiting to get the care they deserve. We need to fix it.

If elected, you’ve talked about just wanting to serve three terms. Would you support term limit legislation?

Absolutely. In fact, I advocate for that, as well as advocate for term limits for myself. I am only going to serve for three terms, if the voters would have me. And I will be an advocate for and vote for term limit legislation. The biggest problem down there in D.C. is we’ve got a bunch of career politicians thinking about themselves, not worried about the country and more concerned about re-election and how long they can stay in D.C. rather than getting things done for the middle class and for Main Street.

Anything else you wanted to touch upon?

I enjoy campaigning. I enjoy meeting people. I enjoy listening to what’s concerning them. I hope that they would see that and elect me on Sept. 9 as their primary candidate for the Republican Party.

Listen to the radio version of my conversation with Gary Lambert here:

  Here's the full version of our conversation: