Sentinel Editorial: Jeanne Shaheen; NH’s senior US senator has a lot more to offer
October 14, 2020
In her dozen years in the U.S. Senate, Jeanne Shaheen has served the state well. As a former governor, she went to Washington with a firm grasp of the needs of Granite Staters, and has worked effectively to further their interests.
She deserves another term in the Senate.
A longtime member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations and Armed Forces committees, she’s worked hard for service members and veterans in the state, including getting millions more put toward a national health study of PFAS, the chemicals found to have contaminated groundwater in several New Hampshire communities, attributed to the former Pease Air Force Base.
In just the past few years, though in the Senate’s minority, she’s brought funding to the state for opioid and mental health efforts, rural broadband expansion and other development projects, and engineered the inclusion of Cheshire and Belknap counties in the Northern Border Regional Commission, which opens opportunities for grants geared toward economically distressed rural areas. Among other projects, Keene’s proposed arts corridor is aiming to take advantage of those funds.
Her efforts during the COVID crisis have also helped steer federal money toward New Hampshire businesses, including a $20 million contract for medical device supplier Smiths Medical in Keene to provide integrated hypodermic needle and syringe products during the ramp-up to a hoped-for vaccine that is already adding important jobs to the region.
Shaheen has also been an advocate for reducing student debt and for workforce training programs.
And while strong in her convictions, she’s proved open to rethinking major issues — as when she said during a recent interview with The Sentinel’s editorial board that she’s now more open to the use of nuclear power among the nation’s energy sources. That’s a position she’s come to as the urgency of climate change has forced a rethinking of potential renewable resources, she explained.
Her main opponent, Republican Bryant “Corky” Messner, is a successful longtime Colorado lawyer who’s since moved to a lake home in the Granite State. Having built a small empire of law offices in the West, it’s perhaps unsurprising his major focus is on helping businesses cope with the pandemic and beyond. A graduate of West Point who served in Europe, he also has a strong interest in military affairs.
Messner’s views fall in the typical range of conservative thinking: reduce spending, secure the border, let the marketplace determine health care options, etc. Alarmingly, in recent appearances, he’s indicated the idea of “pre-existing conditions” is something used by Democrats to scare voters. That would come as news to the hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters suffering from conditions insurers could designate as such — asthma, cancer, diabetes, even pregnancy — should the GOP’s efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act succeed.
Endorsed by President Trump, Messner seems to embrace many of the president’s views, though he did say he feels Trump’s use of tariffs isn’t the best long-term trading strategy.
Disappointingly, Messner’s response to a question on the current racial justice movement was that we need to have an open dialog on race relations, which he followed by noting there are a “few bad apples” in law enforcement, then turning to focus on “Black-on-Black” crime and the “violent protests” happening in every major city that has a Democratic mayor. In other words, if you’re a Trump-at-all-costs voter, he’s for you. Otherwise … probably not.
Shaheen’s other challenger, Libertarian Justin O’Donnell of Nashua, is a serious candidate in that he’s a member of the Libertarian National Committee. But running against Rep. Annie Kuster in 2018, he got just 2.2 percent of the vote, and we’d expect about that showing again.
In short, Shaheen has done much for the Granite State and that should continue.