Tag Archives: lobbying

Dems to debate tonight

10 Sep

Democrats Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett will debate tonight at 7 p.m. in advance of Tuesday’s primary.

The two faced off this week in a debate that turned heated and drew criticism from the media (Read the Primary Wire recap here.) WMUR’s James Pindell noted that “neither Democratic candidate came out smelling like roses,” and a clip of the two debating the divisive issue of lobbying is worth a watch.

Tonight’s matchup provides an opportunity for the candidates to either begin repairing the negative image they have perpetuated, or to further solidify the perception that theirs is an ugly race — and one that will help whichever Republican is elected in November.

Either way, it will be a good measure of the Democratic contest before going into the final weekend of the primary campaign.

The debate will  be held at 7 p.m. at the Henniker campus of New England College, hosted by the school’s Center for Civic Engagement in conjunction with other media outlets. The Republican candidates will debate on Saturday at noon.

It will be broadcasted by WGIR, and a post-debate analysis will posted on Primary Wire this evening.


Dem fight turns ugly, Republicans focus their message

8 Sep

MANCHESTER — Republicans and Democrats took it to the podium tonight, but it’s unclear what anyone achieved from the process.

The candidates in NH’s 2nd district Congressional race faced off tonight in debates less than a week before the Sept. 14 primary, with the overall tone of the race taking a decidedly more negative turn.

Republicans Charlie Bass and Jennifer Horn focused on each other, with Horn attacking Bass’s record in Congress and Bass pointing to Horn’s lack of political experience.

Neither hit third candidate Bob Giuda particularly hard, signifying his increasing insignificance in the race. All three candidates talked of cutting spending, opposing “Obamacare” and reducing the role of government — fairly standard rhetoric.

But it was the Democratic debate between Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett that got ugly, and probably thrilled every Republican following the race.

Early in the evening, the two started waging accusations of lobbying at each other — a petty fight that has come to define their race. Kuster said the issue has “become something of an obsession” for Swett, and the moderator had to change the topic to keep civility.

But even when the candidates moved on from lobbying, the tone of the evening remained unpleasant. Abortion, nuclear energy, and tax cuts all elicited snarky comments from the two.

So who came out on top?

Winner: Jennifer Horn

With Bass stumbling on his words and presenting an unclear message tonight, and Giuda increasingly becoming a non-factor in the race, Horn managed to deflect criticism and come across as a strong, viable candidate in the Republican race. She used some poor metaphors and strange rhetorical devices, but overall, presented a much more compelling conservative voice than either of her opponents. Too bad she hasn’t been more successful at fundraising, and will have to compete with Giuda for the far right.

Loser: the Democrats

There’s no question that tonight’s debate was terrible for the Democrats. Airing their dirty laundry in public, Kuster and Swett attacked each other at a personal level that will not bode well for whoever advances to the general election. Overall, Kuster kept her cool better than Swett, and stooped to less snark than her opponent. But New Hampshire Democratic Party leader Ray Buckley must be a very unhappy man right now.

Kuster and Swett release ads focused on economics

18 Aug

Democratic candidates Ann McLane Kuster and Katrina Swett both recently released new television ads, ramping up the primary race in NH’s second district.

Both ads focus on the economy and creating jobs, with Swett making some silly puns with her last name. Not sure why she mentioned lobbyists after last week, but overall, the ads seem pretty similar.

Kuster takes the offensive on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

17 Aug

As if the Democratic race in NH’s 2nd district weren’t already contentious enough, Ann McLane Kuster held a press conference this morning, slamming her opponent Katrina Swett on her position on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Aligning her opponent with former President Bush, Kuster said the U.S. policy in Iraq may have decreased the country’s ability to fight terrorism in Afghanistan. Read the full press release here.

While the two Democrats have fairly similar stances on most issues of domestic policy, international affairs is an area in which they differ.

Karen Langley of the Concord Monitor wrote a good story looking at their differences, but essentially, Swett supported authorizing President Bush to use force in Iraq and President Obama to sent a troop surge to Afghanistan, while Kuster supported neither.

The difference is one that has not received much attention from the media — which has largely focused on the lobbying accusations flying on the left side of the race. It is an important policy distinction between the two candidates, and deserves scrutiny and examination.

However, whether Kuster should be slamming Swett on the issue less than a week after the lobbying shenanigans is more unclear.

Kuster certainly needs as much press coverage as she can get right now (a July poll showed that 88 percent of voters had never heard of her). But it adds to the existing perception that the Democratic race has become bitter and ugly.

NH Democratic Chairman Ray Buckley has already warned Kuster and Swett that their fighting will only serve to boost moderate Republican Charlie Bass. The frontrunner seems to have dodged any direct attacks or scandals in this race so far, and is doing well in the polls.

Will any voters pick a Democrat after this battle is over? With a month until the primary and things just heating up, it’s looking less and less likely.

Swett was registered as lobbyist, Dem fight picks up

10 Aug

After Katrina Swett has spent months criticizing Democratic opponent Ann McLane Kuster‘s work as a lobbyist, reports have surfaced that Swett’s name appeared on several federal lobbyist registries in the 1990’s.

I have written previously that I think voters would respond positively if Kuster were more candid about her extensive lobbying background. But when it comes to obfuscation of lobbying work, it seems that Kuster is no longer alone.

“It’s kind of like, if you register to vote, but don’t vote, you’re not a voter,” Swett told the Union Leader‘s John DiStaso in describing the significance of her lobbying background.

While reporters will certainly spend time trying to discern the significance of Swett’s work as a lobbyist  — a word that has taken on a life of its own — the revelation looks terrible for Swett.

The issue is less about the semantics of what constitutes lobbying, and more about perceived honesty and transparency in a race that has taken an ugly turn.

“Credibility matters,” writes Dean Barker of the blog Blue Hampshire.

This news makes Swett look silly for slamming her opponent on the issue, and her quote comparing it to registering to vote seems weak at best.

Swett was quoted by the Valley News in June as saying “My background, the work I have done, I have not, you know, been a lobbyist,” but her name is on the 997 federal Lobbying Registration form as vice president of Dick Swett Associates, Inc.

Read the full Union Leader story here.

Kuster has lobbied for almost 20 years, representing groups such as Dartmouth College, NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire, New Hampshire Independent Schools, and several pharmaceutical companies.

She has preferred to call her work advocacy rather than lobbying, and has been criticized by Swett for misleading voters about her background.

As a blogger from Red Hampshire wrote, “Today is a great day for who ever is the Republican nominee in the 2nd district.”

Kuster’s communications director Neil Sroka was quick to issue a statement today:

CONCORD, NH –  Kuster for Congress Communications Director Neil Sroka today released the following statement in response to the news that Katrina Swett has been a Washington lobbyist, despite her repeated denials of exactly that.

“Katrina Swett has been caught clearly deceiving voters about who she is. Despite all her frequent public objections to lobbyists, it turns out Katrina herself was a registered Washington lobbyist.  She even owned a federal lobbying firm, and for the last fifteen years she and her husband, former Congressman Dick Swett, have represented numerous multinational corporations.  Swett’s dishonesty and hypocrisy about her own background is stunning, and it leaves many questions unanswered.”