On the trail: Van Ostern and Goodlander face off in first debate

Democratic candidates for the 2nd Congressional District Maggie Goodlander and Colin Van Ostern following debated on the New Hampshire Today Show on Friday.

Democratic candidates for the 2nd Congressional District Maggie Goodlander and Colin Van Ostern following debated on the New Hampshire Today Show on Friday. New Hampshire Today Show

By PAUL STEINHAUSER

For the Monitor

Published: 06-07-2024 11:03 AM

Modified: 06-07-2024 9:40 PM


The two remaining Democratic candidates in the 2024 race to succeed Rep. Annie Kuster in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District faced off Friday in their first debate.

Colin Van Ostern, a former member of New Hampshire’s Executive Council and the 2016 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, and Maggie Goodlander, a former top lawyer in President Joe Biden’s administration who served as a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department and the wife of national security adviser Jake Sullivan, spent 90 minutes discussing a wide range of issues in an amicable debate moderated by news-talk radio host Chris Ryan on his “New Hampshire Today” program.

Van Ostern, a Concord resident, spotlighted his long Granite State resume of working in government, the private sector, and non-profits.

Van Ostern, who announced his congressional bid in late March immediately after Kuster’s blockbuster news that she wouldn’t seek re-election after 12 years in Congress, pointed to “the people in the communities that I have represented, that I have lived with, that I have fought side-by-side for. This is a personal race for me.”

And Van Ostern noted the endorsements he’s landed from top politicians, including Kuster and former four-term Democratic governor John Lynch, and pointed to “the incredible grassroots support … that we’ve received.”

In what seemed to be a slight jab at Goodlander, Van Ostern said “I’m in this race to fix Washington, not defend it.”

Goodlander, who served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve before starting her government career in Washington, launched her campaign a month ago in the blue-leaning but competitive congressional district. She grew up in Nashua and is the granddaughter of Sam Tamposi, who was a major player in state Republican politics. Her mother, Betty Tamposi, ran for the House in 1988 in the Second Congressional District but lost in the GOP primary.

Goodlander and Sullivan, who for years have spent much of their time in the nation’s capital because of work, own a home in Portsmouth, which is located in the state’s First Congressional District. But Goodlander is now renting a home in Nashua, in the Second District.

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In the debate, Goodlander highlighted her resume in Washington, saying “I understand how government works. I know how to get the job done. I know how to fight the biggest fights.” She emphasized that “I’ve dedicated by life to serving in government and I’m ready on day one to take this fight everywhere it needs to be taken.

And in what appeared to be a reference to Van Ostern, she noted that “I’m not a perennial candidate. I’m not a professional politician. This is the first time I’m running.”

The debate took place a couple of days after the third Democratic candidate in the race, state Sen. Becky Whitley of Hopkinton, ended her campaign.

A crowded field of Republicans, including 2022 Senate candidate Vikram Mansharamani and Lily Tang Williams, who’s making her second straight bid for the congressional nomination, are running for the GOP nomination.

Warmington accuses Craig of hiding from voters

Executive Councilor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cinde Warmington is taking aim at her primary rival, accusing former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig of refusing to join her in a proposed radio debate on statewide radio.

“I think that voters need to hear from both candidates. And right now, I seem to be the only candidate in this race that’s willing to speak to voters anytime, anywhere,” Warmington said Thursday on the morning news-talk radio program “New Hampshire Today with Chris Ryan.”

Both Warmington and Craig were invited to debate on the program, but only Warmington accepted the offer. Craig’s campaign responded that it wanted to wait until after the conclusion of the New Hampshire filing period for candidates running in the state’s September primary.

“Warmington has been conducting regular interviews with media outlets across the state, from TV to radio to print and online, while her opponents rarely speak with outlets, denying voters the chance to hear how they would govern New Hampshire,” the Warmington campaign argued in a release on Thursday.

Craig, who is the front-runner over Warmington in the multi-candidate race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, has already teamed up with Warmington at two forums so far this year.

Warmington’s comments taking aim at Craig came days after the launch of an online petition drive led by recovering addicts and addiction treatment community leaders calling on the executive councilor to drop her bid for governor due to her previous work as a lobbyist representing a pharmaceutical company that produced OxyContin.

“In 2002, Councilor Warmington worked as a paid lobbyist for Purdue Pharma, the company that supercharged the opioid crisis and flooded our communities with their poison,” the petition reads.

Asked about the petition during her radio appearance, Warmington said “It was 22 years ago. For nine months, I was an associate in a law firm and I was assigned a project.

“This is an issue put out by my political opponents to distract people,” she charged.

Morse questions Ayotte’s conservative credentials

As he kicked off New Hampshire’s filing period, former state Senate president Chuck Morse declared that he was the only real conservative in the race for the Corner Office.

And Morse once again took aim at former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the polling and fundraising front-runner in the GOP gubernatorial nomination battle.

“I think there’s a big difference between myself and Kelly Ayotte,” Morse told supporters as he arrived at the Secretary of State's office at the state capital building in Concord. “I started as a conservative, and I finished as a conservative as Senate president, and I promise you, I will be a governor that’s a conservative.”

And he charged “That’s not what Kelly did when she went to Washington.”

The Ayotte campaign returned fire.

“Career Politician Chuck Morse is lying, losing, and desperate because voters are rejecting his record of making New Hampshire less safe,” Ayotte spokesman John Corbett claimed. “Chuck deep-sixed the sanctuary city ban and pushed the failed bail reform that has led to more crime on our streets. Kelly is the only candidate in this race with a track record of keeping New Hampshire safe and that’s why Granite Staters trust her to be our next governor.”

Sununu to campaign with ‘candidates that need the help’

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu says he’ll vote for former President Donald Trump in November, but that doesn’t mean the four-term GOP governor who’s not seeking re-election will team up with Trump on the campaign trail later this year in the Granite State.

Sununu has long been a vocal Republican critic of the former president and was a top supporter and surrogate during New Hampshire’s presidential primary of Trump’s top challenger – former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. But after Haley dropped out of the race in March, Sununu reiterated that he would vote for the GOP standard-bearer. And Sununu said he will still vote for Trump even after the former president a week ago was convicted of 34 felony counts in his criminal trial, the first of a former or current president in the nation’s history.

New Hampshire has long been a swing state in general elections and the former president is likely to return to the Granite State to campaign this summer and autumn.

Asked by this reporter if he would join Trump on the campaign trail, the governor said  “I’m going to campaign with the candidates that need the help. Trump is Trump. People are going to make their minds up about President Trump whether individuals are on the campaign trail with him or not. I’m really about making sure we win that State House, we have more than 201 Republicans in the House of Representatives. More than 14 senators, a strong executive council, and most importantly winning that Corner Office.”

Sununu, who was interviewed in New Orleans as he attended a Republican Governors Association meeting, emphasized that “the presidential race is going to take care of itself. We’re going to focus on the State House races where the effort needs to be.”