Shaheen Makes Claremont Stop
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., shakes hands with firefighter Scott Kenniston at the fire station in Claremont, N.H., on March 18, 2014. Kenniston was one of three Claremont firefighters injured fighting a house fire on March 2. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Claremont — With the field of likely challengers to her re-election growing in number and name recognition, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., spent much of a swing through the Upper Valley on Tuesday exercising the privileges of incumbency.
After cheering the leadership at Red River Computer Co. for supplementing her legislative efforts to create jobs for military veterans, the first-term senator and former governor visited the Claremont Fire Department, which recently hired three new firefighters with a more than $550,000 federal grant that Shaheen had championed.
In between, the first-term Democrat insisted that such work is occupying more of her attention than former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s formation of a committee to explore a bid for the Republican nomination for Shaheen’s seat.
“I’m going to continue to stay focused on the needs of the people of New Hampshire,” Shaheen said. “My record speaks for itself.”
As for Brown, she added, “He’s got to go through a primary. We’ve got lots of time.”
So far, Hanover businessman Jim Rubens, former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, perpetual candidate Andy Martin and former gubernatorial candidate Karen Testerman have formally declared their candidacies on the Republican side. On Tuesday, Shaheen reiterated her challenge to opponents in general and Brown in particular to swear off third-party campaign support, especially in the area of attack ads.
“I’m very disappointed to see that Scott Brown is unwilling to make the pledge he took in Massachusetts (during his 2012 re-election campaign against Elizabeth Warren),” Shaheen said. “I hope that Scott Brown is going to accept his own ‘People’s Pledge.’ ”
The challenge drew fire from Brown over the weekend, and again on Tuesday from the Rubens campaign, which, pointing to Shaheen’s recent fundraising trip to California, called it “disingenuous, hypocritical and part of the larger problem of Washington cronyism.” The statement also quotes Rubens decrying “the inaccessibility and unaccountability of career politicians like Jeanne Shaheen.”
At Red River, CEO Rick Bolduc praised the senator for steering tax credits and financing Red River’s way to help the computer company renovate and expand its operation on the top three floors of the former mill building at 21 Water Street, which also houses The Common Man restaurant.
“The whole company is grateful to you,” said Bolduc, whose company’s clients include the federal Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“This is a great example of what we do in New Hampshire,” Shaheen said. “It’s exciting to see this building from the outside, but much more important to see what’s going on inside.”
Shaheen also expressed her gratitude to Bolduc for Red River’s active recruitment of veterans — several of whom were seated around the company’s conference-room table described how the company sought them out — and pointed to two bills she recently co-sponsored including one to cut payroll taxes for businesses that hire veterans.
The Veterans Hiring Act would cut payroll taxes for businesses that bring former service members into their ranks, and the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act seeks to waive fees and otherwise lower the costs of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans aimed at veterans starting their own small businesses. Shaheen added that the sponsors of the latter bill also hope to reach more woman veterans starting out in business.
“We think there are more places where we can do a better job of outreach,” Shaheen said.
Before Shaheen’s arrival at the central fire station, Fire Chief Rick Bergeron said that the three new firefighters hired with the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant are helping his force weather the manpower shortage that resulted from the injuries of two full-time and one volunteer firefighter during a blaze in late February on Cherry Hill Road.
“We already needed more people before this happened,” Bergeron said. “It would have helped to have them then, absolutely. We have the most efficient operation when we have five-man shifts. That night, we had three on duty.”
After the Red River visit, Claremont City Manager Guy Santagate said that while he is encountering few Claremont residents who are paying attention to the Senate campaign and its cast of candidates to date — “It’s very early” — they’re aware of Shaheen’s work on the behalf of cities like Claremont.
“She’s accessible,” Santagate said. “She’s very available. She’s always present when you bring a concern to her. People in Claremont notice that, and appreciate it.”
After her Claremont visit, Shaheen traveled to Hypertherm’s Lebanon plant to lead a roundtable with woman businesses leaders on encouraging female entrepreneurs and small-business owners.
“I’m proud to be a part of New Hampshire’s historic all-female delegation, but we have to do more, especially when it comes to supporting women entrepreneurs in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Shaheen, who pointed to her support for increased funding for the Women’s Business Centers through nearly 100 educational centers across the country. “Small businesses are the drivers of economic growth in the United States, so promoting female entrepreneurs and small businesses is good for economy and job creation.”
David Corriveau can be reached at email@example.com and at 603-727-3304.