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Kuster Challenger Plans Bipartisan Appeal



Concord Monitor
Friday, March 11, 2016
Concord — In his first news conference as a candidate for U.S. Congress, Republican state Rep. Jack Flanagan painted himself as a moderate who could sway a district that tends to vote Democrat.

“I might be a Republican that Democrats could embrace,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan is serving his third term in the New Hampshire House. Speaker Shawn Jasper named him majority leader in 2014, following a controversial election for the position that pitted Republicans against one another.

Flanagan stepped down from that position in October to explore a run for New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers the western half of the state and includes the cities of Concord and Nashua. He officially announced his candidacy Tuesday and met with reporters on Thursday in the Legislative Office Building.

“Today, some fear our best years are behind us,” Flanagan said. “As the voice for New Hampshire’s 2nd District, I will advocate for legislation that will benefit the district and the United States as a whole.”

The Brookline, N.H., resident is the first to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, a Democrat in her second term. It’s not clear whether he will face a primary. Kuster released a statement Tuesday about Flanagan’s announcement.

“I look forward to a robust discussion in the fall about the issues that matter to Granite Staters,” she said.

Shortly after announcing his bid, Flanagan voted Wednesday to reauthorize Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire; that bill is now headed to the Senate.

Flanagan said he voted with the 2nd District in mind, citing the residents statewide who participate in expanded Medicaid.

“Since the district leans Democratic, it’s going to be hard to walk that line,” Flanagan said. “I think most people who are legislators here know I’m fiscally conservative but I guess a little socially moderate.”

He also noted his support for some part of the Affordable Care Act, such as the requirement for insurance companies to cover people who have pre-existing conditions.

“I’m one Republican that thinks there are some good things about Obamacare,” he said. “But there are things that aren’t good about Obamacare, and we need grownups in Washington to basically get together and make a position change.”

Flanagan seemed unworried about his lack of name recognition or a major fundraising operation. Kuster’s campaign spent more than $3.6 million to win re-election in 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Money doesn’t prove that you will win,” he said. “It just proves that you will spend more money.”