Ahead of our recent forum with Carol Shea-Porter, who’s running to retake her former seat in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, we asked what you’d most like to hear her talk about.
Shea-Porter is running for against incumbent Republican Congressman Frank Guinta, with whom she’s traded the Congressional seat back and forth for the past four election cycles. (You can find Guinta's answers to the questions you sent in right here.)
Here’s what Shea-Porter had to say on the questions you submitted. For more, listen to her full conversation with NHPR's The Exchange.
On Climate Change
One of you asked: “What role do you see the fed government playing in addressing the issue of climate change?”
In Shea-Porter’s view, the federal government “absolutely” has a responsibility to intervene to address the issue. Specifically, she would support a carbon tax, subsidies for companies that invest in renewable energy, efforts to “cut down on dirty polluters” and efforts to encourage more conservation.
“I think we made a mistake when we first called it climate warming or global warming, because actually we now know that climate change manifests itself in cold and wet and rain and hurricanes and hot weather,” Shea-Porter said. “We know our sea levels are rising, we know along our own coasts we’re seeing that.”
In her view, the government’s ability to tackle climate change is critical not only to protecting the environment.
“We need to do this for our economic security, so that we have a steady supply of energy we can count on. We need to do it for national security, because we find ourselves in very tough places and putting our troops at risk,” she said. “And we need to do it because we need to save the planet, basically.”
On the Opioid Crisis
Someone else asked why it’s taken so long for Congress to take meaningful action on opioid abuse, and whether Shea-Porter had any idea the issue would escalate as severely as it has since when she was last in Congress.
Shea-Porter said she did take some steps, before losing re-election in 2014, to tackle the issue. She pointed to her involvement on a Congressional Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, and legislation she sponsored in 2010 to encourage safe prescription drug take-back procedures.
But, she acknowledges, there wasn’t as broad an understanding of the severity of the drug crisis as there is today.
“I think the timing wasn’t quite there. I think a lot of people were not aware of it,” Shea-Porter said. “But I certainly was, and a large number of my colleagues in Congress were aware of it.”
Moving forward, Shea-Porter said she supports efforts to go after drug manufacturers for misleading consumers about opioids, strengthened training for doctors and other opioid prescribers and more education to help people recognize the signs of abuse.
“You know, the saying we have for Homeland Security — ‘See Something, Say Something’ — I think we need to have the same thing where if we recognize that there’s risks to people, that we’re acting upon it,” Shea-Porter said.
On Shea-Porter vs. Guinta — Yet Again
Another one of you asked the question that seems to be looming over the entire 1st Congressional District race this year: “Why you again? Why are we going through Shea-Porter [versus] Guinta [again]?”
While we didn’t quite phrase our question to Shea-Porter the exact same way, we did ask her what she thought about the fact that her matchup against Guinta has become something of a biennial fall tradition in New Hampshire.
“I think we reflect what’s happening in Washington, don’t you? Where there’s a clash of ideas. And it’s not just Washington, by the way, it’s New Hampshire and it’s every other state,” Shea-Porter said. “That’s why you see every election so close now, because Americans are looking very closely, and I respect the process of saying what and who will best help my family.”
Shea-Porter said she thinks the outcome of the race is influenced in part by whether or not the election lines up with a presidential contest — in those years, she attributes her victories to a larger turnout among independent voters.
“I feel very honored when I am chosen, and when I’m not I know the voters have spoken, and the deal is that you get up, brush yourself off and say, ‘Let me get back to work,’ because there’s so much work to be done to move this country forward,” she said.