In The News

Carol Shea-Porter seeks to regain seat


By Brian Early

ROCHESTER — Carol Shea-Porter is working to keep her political average from breaking even.

Currently, she has a “3-2 record,” she said an recent interview.

In 2006, Shea-Porter was an outside shot running in a congressional primary against the candidate supported by the state Democrat Party.

“The 2006 campaign was run from a kitchen table with a bunch of volunteers,” she said. “I never had a paid staffer. We started with $100 in the account.”

After her surprise upset in the primary, she was again the underdog against the incumbent Congressman Jeb Bradley, now the state Senate’s majority leader. Bradley won the seat easily in 2002 with 58 percent of the vote and 63 percent in 2004.

Shea-Porter’s 51 percent win over Bradley was considered one of the biggest upsets of 2006 when the Democrats picked up 31 seats and won control of the House for the first time since 1992. She beat Bradley again in a rematch in 2008, with 52 percent of the vote. But she lost to current incumbent Congressman Frank Guinta in the 2010 Tea Party wave when Republicans picked up 63 House seats. Shea-Porter won back the seat in 2012 and lost it again in 2014.

Things are different for Shea-Porter then when she first started. According to her most recent financial filing with the Federal Elections Commission for the first quarter of 2016, Shea-Porter raised $175,830 and had $253,932 cash on hand. The underdog role in the Democrat primary is left to her primary challenger, Bedford businessman Shawn O’Connor, a name she won’t acknowledge.

“I’m focusing on November,” she said.

A major difference she sees between her first and current election is money. She bemoaned the increase of it politics. Even though money in politics was an issue in 2006, it’s much worse now, she said, pointing to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case. The 5-4 ruling prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures made by nonprofit entities.

“It sadder today,” she said of increased negative campaign ads from various fronts that are not focused on the issues. “I missed campaigning against someone like Jeb Bradley. He stayed on the issues and I stayed on the issues.”

Campaign finance reform is one item Shea-Porter would like to help change if elected back to Congress. 

“You take the money out of politics, you take the craziness out of politics,” she said.

She would also like to see more funding in education, infrastructure investment and a raise to the minimum wage. 

“If you have people working full time and they still can’t make ends meet, there is something wrong here,” she said. “It’s hurts our economy when people aren’t going out and spending.”

While she sees the country in a better economic condition than it was when she was in office during the beginning of the recession last decade, she sees an economy “out of whack” with “tax breaks for the super wealthy.” 

“The middle class is stumbling," she said. "The poor have fallen. We have to fix our tax system. It’s very burdensome.”

One thing she would like changed in the tax structure is more tax breaks for families that send their children to school to help offset the amount of debt many students and their families take on to finance higher education. There is more student debt than credit card debt now, she said.

“It really comes down to are we going to decide that this is the right moment to invest in us again," she said. "And I believe it is. I know it is."

Shea-Porter grew up in Lee in a Republican family. She is a graduate of Oyster River High School and the University of New Hampshire, a parishioner of St. Thomas More Parish in Durham and an “ardent Red Sox fan.” She is a “direct descendant” of New Hampshire native John Stark, who served as a major-general in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

She’s held various jobs over the years. In college, she worked on the assembly line at Davidson Rubber, as a chambermaid and at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. “Anywhere that would hire me; I would work.” After college, while living in Maryland, she taught politics and history.

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