Two Republican candidates for the state's 2nd Congressional District went head to head for an hour Thursday night during a debate hosted by WMUR and the Union Leader. Jack Flanagan and Jim Lawrence are vying to go up against incumbent Democrat Annie Kuster.
It was sometimes difficult to see exactly where Jack Flanagan and Jim Lawrence disagreed on any actual policy views during their debate last night.
Like on the question of whether the candidates would repeal or amend Obamacare. Here’s Flanagan – who has worked in the insurance industry.
“This is where I differ, from my – from Jim. I think it should be repealed. He thinks it should be amended.”
And here’s Jim Lawrence, a veteran and small business owner with 8 children.
“I think it’s funny my opponent here thinks he knows my plan, because two years ago when I ran for Congress I said I want to repeal it, I’m running once again on a candidacy that feels Obamacare has damaged our health care system.”
Lawrence then went on to say he would repeal the bad parts of the law, which gets a bit semantic.
Lawrence did run last year for this seat. He lost to Marilinda Garcia, who then lost to Democrat, Annie Kuster. In fact, it’s been six years since the second district has elected a Republican.
There are a couple policies the two truly disagree on.
Lawrence says Northern Pass is a bad deal for Granite Staters; Flanagan disagrees:
“The only thing I would be concerned about is that all the people get heard… he goes on I want to learn more about it, but I want to figure out if we can bury the whole thing.”
Perhaps the tensest moment of the night came when panelist Adam Sexton asked what should be done with the Syrian humanitarian crisis.
“Instead of accepting thousands of Syrian Refugrees, Representative Flanagan, you’ve said you want Americans to build and guard a safe haven within the country of Syria to protect innocent people Mr. Lawrence do you think that would work?”
“We don’t have any territory in Syria now, so we’d have we’d have to fight for that territory in order to expand that safe zone, and I have to take a hard stand on this, as a military veteran, I am sick and tired of nonvets saying they want to put Americans in harm’s way for police action somewhere else.”
Flanagan came back, saying it would be an international effort, and that he had gotten the idea from Ohio Governor, John Kasich.
But for the most part, the two spoke in political unison.
They both agree that bipartisanship is essential to rebuilding the party; they agree a significant minimum wage hike is a bad idea; that public schools should not allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice. They agree Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that opened the doors to Super PACs, should not be overturned. They are both supporting Donald Trump; they are both big into the second amendment – but Lawrence says, he gets better “Grades.”
“For the record, we weren’t even close when it came to the gradings, cuz they gave me an A and they gave him a D from the NH Firearms Coalition.”
Even when it comes to relationships between communities of color and police: both are on the same page. Here’s Flanagan, who’s white:
“As a selectman, in my town, when I hired my chief of police, I made sure we followed community policing.”
And here’s Lawrence, who’s not white:
“It just so happens my father was one of the pioneers of community policing, which is what Rep. Flanagan just mentioned.”
Primary day is Tuesday.