Candidates promise a return to conservative values
July 21, 2010
PLYMOUTH — The preservation of traditional New Hampshire values was foremost on the minds of the featured guests at the Pemi-Baker Valley Republican Committee's July 15 meeting.
Addressing committee members at the newly opened Fugaky restaurant in Plymouth, both Fran Wendelboe — who hopes to unseat incumbent Democratic state Sen. Deb Reynolds this fall — and Dennis Lamare, one of several Republican candidates vying for a shot at retiring U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg's seat in Washington, touted their commitment to the interests of the common man and to conservative values, such as fiscal restraint.
Wendelboe, a native of Florida, said she first visited New Hampshire on a business trip more than 30 years ago, and instantly fell in love with its natural beauty and rural character.
Her first words to her husband after returning home, she said, were "It's such a gorgeous state, the people are so friendly, and you're not going to believe this, but they have no sales or income tax!"
She and her husband, she said, purchased a home here during a return visit, and have been residents of New Hampshire for the past 30 years.
Her primary reason for entering the District 2 state Senate race, she explained, was her concern over the possibility that the qualities which first drew her to New Hampshire might not be there for her children and grandchildren to appreciate due to the actions of the current legislature.
"I would never have believed the damage that could be done in just four short years," Wendelboe said, pointing to the state budget, which stood at roughly $9 billion before a Democratic majority seized control in Concord four years ago, and has since risen to more than $11 billion.
"They're spending like drunken sailors," she said, adding that her first course of action, if elected, would be to cut spending and reduce the size of state government — something that she said the current legislature, which has chosen to increase fees and taxes, has not been willing to do.
The blame for the state's current fiscal crisis, however, belongs not just to Democrats, but to Republicans, as well, she said, suggesting that the time has come for the more conservative members of the legislature to "start acting like Republicans."
Although she has been a longtime member of the House, Wendelboe said Reynolds' decision to support both a controversial increase in the state's limited liability tax and an increase in motor vehicle registrations convinced her to throw her hat into the District 2 race this time around.
"She [Reynolds] needs to go," she said, prompting a burst of applause from the audience.
Stating that she is confident the House will "go Republican" in November, Wendelboe explained that the state Senate could prove more difficult due to the fact that its members are "very entrenched" in their positions.
With the Senate currently comprised of 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans, she said, the Republicans will need at least two more seats to shift the balance of power back in their favor.
"Our district will be key," she said. "It is vital — critical — that we win this."
Suggesting that now is not the time to "elect a novice" like Jeanie Forrester, her opponent in the September primary, Wendelboe urged local Republican voters to throw their support behind a strong, experienced candidate such as herself, who can meet what she called "the Democratic machine" head-on.
While tackling some of the tough decisions that need to be made — such as increasing state employees' contributions to their health insurance plans — won't be easy, she said, "I'm prepared to do it."
"I know I'm the right candidate," she added.
The dark horse
Lamare, a resident of Lee, said his parents instilled in him the importance of helping others at an early age, always opening their door to those in need, from hungry travelers to family members in the midst of hard times.
He was enrolled in medical school, he said, when his brother returned home from Vietnam with severe psychological damage, forcing him to leave school and travel back home, where he held a wide array of jobs, from restaurant manager to factory worker at a paper mill in Claremont.
After nearly losing both his arms in an accident at the paper mill, Lamare tried his hand at a number of odd jobs, eventually landing a position at Fideltiy Investments that paved the way to his current job, as a health insurance account manager for the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans' Administration.
Lamare said he started thinking about mounting a campaign for the U.S. Senate last September, when he saw candidates employing the "same rhetoric" he had always heard, promising to change Washington and work for the people.
"I decided that if somebody's going to speak for me, it's going to be me," he said, explaining that his campaign is completely self-funded — a fact that he said has made him a "dark horse" and denied him many of the benefits enjoyed by his fellow candidates, such as the opportunity to participate in official debates.
"I'm out there fighting for us … so that we can have true representation," he said, describing himself as a "candidate for the common person."
If elected, Lamare said he would travel to Washington with three major goals — curb spending and find a way to keep Social Secutiry and Medicare solvent and available to the citizens who have spent their entire working lives paying into those systems; withdraw American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and place them on the U.S.-Mexican border to stem the tide of illegal immigration, then focus on locating and deporting the illegals already in the country; and bring a pair of American prisoners-of-war — one missing somewhere in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan — home to their families.
"If I can do that, I will have accomplished what I want to do as a senator," he said.