Rep. Chris Pappas: Direct Connections With Voters Gets Past Ads
Seacoast Current invited the Democrats and Republican candidates in the First Congressional District, U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races for a "live to tape" unedited interview lasting 10-15 minutes with Dan Alexander and SNHU Civic Scholar and founder of NH Political Capital Dean Spiliotes. Gov. Chris Sununu's campaign staff could not agree on a date. Don Bolduc's campaign did not respond to several invitations.
For better or for worse, the First Congressional District race has attracted a lot of attention nationwide because of its status as a swing seat, and the political contrasts between the two candidates.
Incumbent Chris Pappas is a Democrat who has voted with the current administration and House leadership much of the time, while Republican challenger Karoline Leavitt is a hardcore conservative supporter of Donald Trump. It's the perfect storm for many ugly ads and accusations in advertising and on the campaign trail.
How does that help voters choose a candidate? To Pappas, the one-on-one contact is really the most important thing.
"I think that the most important thing in the campaign isn't the TV ads. It's the way that we get out and connect with folks all across New Hampshire. There's 75 towns in this district. We've been doing dozens and dozens of events every week, to meet folks where they are to have real conversations about the issues that matter," Pappas told Seacoast Current.
Pappas said that "kitchen table economic issues" are most on the minds of voters. Pappas is already working on protecting personal freedoms, ensuring that the economy is moving in the right direction, lowering prices, and working for veterans and small businesses.
"We've taken a number of steps to secure supply chains, to modernize regulations when it comes to shipping, to invest in our infrastructure in this country, to lower energy costs by approving new rebates and tax credits," Pappas said.
Codifying Roe v. Wade
Pappas is also concerned about a possible national abortion ban if Republicans take control of Congress in the mid-term election, something he said Leavitt supports. Leavitt has repeatedly denied this claim, saying that she supports the rights of states to establish their own law.
"I want to codify Roe v. Wade, and protect a woman's right to choose and make sure that regardless of what state someone lives in, the government is not getting in between themselves in terms of that private personal decision," Pappas said.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said he would seek legislation to codify the Roe v. Wade ruling if Democrats hold a majority in the House and Senate in the midterm election.
“If we do that, here’s the promise I make to you and the American people: The first bill I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade. And when Congress passes it, I’ll sign it in January, 50 years after Roe was first decided the law of the land,” Biden said at a Democratic National Committee event Tuesday.
He described himself as someone who can work collaboratively with members of the opposite political party, something he does not believe Leavitt can do.
"I think that's a stark contrast to my opponent, who understands the talking points and knows how to deliver a sharp attack lines, but has never worked with anyone in a collaborative fashion in a bipartisan," Pappas said.
Reevaluating Saudi Arabia
Following OPEC's decision to cut production beginning in November, Pappas thinks the U.S. needs to re-evaluate its relationship with Saudi Arabia. He believes the move was designed to help Russian President Vladimir Putin finance his war on Ukraine, hurt the U.S. economy, and keep energy costs high.
Pappas would like to see the United States become energy independent and not depend on dictators and regimes like Saudi Arabia to meet its energy needs.
"We've got to take this incredibly seriously. We should be ensuring that we don't stand with folks like the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, who is a threat to democracy and has abused human rights. We know he is responsible for the murder of a Washington Post journalist (Jamal Khashoggi). I think it was the wrong decision in the first place for the president to go there to fist bump the crown prince, and ask for help with our energy needs," Pappas said.
What can President Joe Biden and Congress do to help with high energy costs now? Pappas said he supports suspension of the federal gas tax, and wants President Joe Biden to work with oil companies on increasing production. He isn't hopeful, as he believes they are more interested in rewarding shareholders rather than provide relief.
"I think the president needs to work collaboratively with them to turn up production. It's estimated that it will get back to pre-pandemic levels by next year. But that's just not soon enough. We also need to have adequate refining capacity in this country. And I've also called for limiting exports of energy resources to other parts of the world, when we know we need them right here in New England and in other parts of the country to meet our home heating needs," Pappas said.
Heathcare Drives Inflation
When asked about the federal inflation numbers for September, which were released several hours before Pappas' interview and are one of the driving forces fueling inflation, there turned out to be a 28% jump in healthcare costs over the past year.
"I know this issue well. I'm a small business owner, and we provide healthcare to our workers. And for many, many, many years, we have seen double-digit increases on a regular basis. We approve recently, more support for New Hampshire families that are getting their healthcare off the exchanges, continuing tax credits that were in place, so that will save the average New Hampshire family of four about $1,600 per year," Pappas said.
He also pointed to the provision of the Inflation Reduction Act, which will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices and cap out-of-pocket costs for Insulin for seniors.