An Air Force veteran, a former Trump official and a combat nurse are among the candidates for New Hampshire’s two congressional seats competing in Tuesday’s primary to represent their party in the November general election.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, a freshman lawmaker, is running unopposed in the 1st District race. Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, seeking her fifth term representing the 2nd District, is expected to beat her lone challenger.
The 1st District has been as swing district of late but the 2nd has been solidly Democrat for years.
On the Republican side in the 1st District, Matt Mowers, a 31-year-old former official in President Donald Trump’s State Department, and Matt Mayberry, a 55-year-old Air Force veteran and realtor, are the favorites to take on Pappas. They are among five candidates running for a seat representing the district that covers the eastern part of the state, including parts of greater Manchester, the Lakes Region and the Seacoast.
Mowers has outraised Mayberry by about 4-1 and picked up a coveted endorsement from Trump. Mayberry has responded by accusing Mowers of being a carpetbagger looking to move back to New Hampshire just to win a House seat.
Both candidates have similar conservative views and support Trump’s agenda. They have promised to fight illegal immigration, continue building the wall at the southern border, defend the Second Amendment and would support congressional term limits.
The 2nd District race — encompassing a mostly rural district that stretches from New Hampshire’s border with Canada to the Massachusetts line — is shaping up to be a rematch between Kuster and Steve Negron, who owns a defense engineering and consulting company in Nashua. The other serious challenge is Lynne Blankenbeker, a combat nurse and Navy Reserve captain from Concord.
Negron, 59, a retired U.S. Air Force officer and former state House member, won the nomination in a seven-candidate race in 2018. Blakenbeker, 56, a lawyer who also served in the House, came in third. There are two other candidates.
Negron and Blankenbeker count among their priorities reducing health care costs, a strong national defense and a secure border. During a debate that aired Thursday on WMUR-TV, they agreed that the federal government should not treat gun violence like a pandemic, and that the military should not rename bases originally named for Confederate leaders.
Trump hasn’t endorsed anyone in the 2nd District but both Negron and Blankenbeker support the president. They attended Trump’s rally in Manchester, with Negron not wearing a mask. Blankenbeker said she had a mask on but took it off for photos.
Masks were required under Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s emergency order, which mandates that they be worn at scheduled events attended by more than 100 people.
The coronavirus has given the primary a different look.
Under a temporary change to state law, anyone concerned about the virus will be allowed to vote by absentee ballot, either by mail or by dropping off completed ballots with election officials on or before Tuesday. Safety measures will in place at the polls, though it was up to each community on whether or not mask wearing is required.