CONCORD—The candidates for this month’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary represent different visions of the party.
Challenger Bob Bevill calls himself a “Ronald Reagan Republican modeled after Pat Buchanan,” the populist free-trade opponent who badly wounded the first President Bush in New Hampshire’s 1992 Republican presidential primary.
A Merrimack resident, Bevill, who was born in Louisiana and raised in Texas, is pro-gun, anti-abortion and supports a constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex marriage. He is state president of the Eagle Forum, a “pro-family” lobby group.
Incumbent Jeb Bradley, by contrast, calls himself “very much a mainstream Republican.” He supports keeping abortion legal. Bradley does not support gay marriage but has said gay relatives should be allowed to adopt orphaned children.
Both candidates say they’re focusing on job creation and homeland security, but they have different approaches to each issue.
Bevill, 42, runs an Internet service provider, World Wide OnLine. He believes the key to increasing American employment is cutting back on legal and illegal foreign workers as well as overseas outsourcing of jobs.
“We need to get tighter controls on illegal immigration,” Bevill said. “It’s driving down the living wage.”
He would like to see between 20,000 and 30,000 of the troops returning from overseas redeployed along the border with Mexico and would like to impose trade tariffs on companies that export jobs.
Bradley, 51, also supports measures to reduce the population of illegal aliens. But the first-term congressman from Wolfeboro believes reducing government spending and reforming medical malpractice, asbestos and class-action lawsuits are keys to the nation’s economic recovery. He credits current President Bush’s tax cuts with creating 1.5 million jobs nationwide.
“What we need to do to increase employment for Americans is set the strategy for economic growth, and you do that by having the appropriate policies—tax policies, energy, litigation relief,” Bradley said.
Although conservative, Bevill says he has much in common with the labor movement. He recently met with the AFL-CIO to talk about manufacturing jobs moving abroad.
Bradley said he’s used his two years in Congress to push for better benefits for the military and veterans. He’s also been active in efforts by the Maine and New Hampshire congressional delegations to keep the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, off a base closure list next year.
He said he’s worked to make sure qualifying veterans can receive both retirement and disability pay. “I’ve worked hard for better pay, better housing allowance, better equipment for members of our military,” Bradley said.
Recent filings with the Federal Elections Commission showed Bradley had raised nearly $700,000. Bevill did not file, which is not required if expenditures or donations are less than $5,000.
Bevill recently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection. He says he’s owed $500,000 by Sprint for a business deal gone wrong and has been involved in a lawsuit with the company for two years.
Bradley, a state legislator for 12 years, and Bevill, who does not have any legislative experience, were among eight candidates in the 2002 GOP primary. Bevill came in last; Bradley went on to defeat Democrat Martha Fuller Clark for the seat in November.
In the House, Bradley is a member of the Armed Services, Small Business and Veterans Affairs committees.
A poll in July by the University of New Hampshire for WMUR-TV skipped the Bradley-Bevill contest. The poll had Bradley beating potential Democratic nominee Justin Nadeau 58 percent to 21 percent, with most of the rest undecided.