Meet the Candidates: Steve Negron, Republican Running for 2nd CD | New Hampshire Public Radio

Meet the Candidates: Steve Negron, Republican Running for 2nd CD

Aug 27, 2020

Steve Negron
Credit ALLEGRA BOVERMAN FOR NHPR

The Exchange continues its series of primary candidate interviews with Steve Negron, Republican candidate for 2nd Congressional District. Negron, of Nashua, is a former state lawmaker, serving in the House from 2016 to 2018. He served in the Air Force and works in the defense industry. He ran for the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2018.  We discuss his positions on the coronavirus pandemic, police reform, and other issues. We welcome  your questions: send them before the show to exchange@nhpr.org.

Air date: Friday, Aug. 28 9:00-9:20 a.m.

To hear this conversation, which was part of the Aug. 28 Weekly N.H. News Roundup, click here.

Transcript

This transcript was machine-generated and contains errors.

Peter Biello:
I'm Peter Biello and this is the Weekly New Hampshire News Roundup on The Exchange. Republican Steve Negron is an Air Force veteran and former statehouse lawmaker who hopes to challenge incumbent Democrat Annie Kuster in New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District. Today on the program, a conversation with him about why he thinks he's the candidate best equipped to beat Custer. And later in the program, we'll speak with Republican Matt Mayberry about his bid for his party's nomination to face Congressman Chris Pappas in New Hampshire's first congressional district. You can send your questions for either candidate. And with me now is Steve Negron. Thank you very much for being on the program today.

Steve Negron:
Good morning, Peter. Thank you very much for having me.

Peter Biello:
So you challenged Annie Kuster and lost in 2018. So what has changed about your campaign that you think makes you more competitive this time around?

Steve Negron:
Well, sure. You know, it's very simple. There's a couple of things that we've reassessed after the last time. Name recognition and the second congressional district is always a big deal. I mean, we came out last time out of a seven way competitive Republican primary and we didn't have name recognition. You know, we we did take 117,999 votes last time in a midterm. And that's the most votes a Republican has gotten in a midterm since 2002. So what we're seeing right now is that our name recognition is where we left off. And I think that's important. People understand the name, they know the name. And what we were talking to people, as we still currently do around the district. It is a huge hurdle that we don't have to address as much this time. And I think that's going to be a huge advantage for us going into this into this cycle.

Peter Biello:
What about policy positions? Have any evolved or changed since 2018?

Steve Negron:
Not necessarily, you know, one of the things that we do here when we're knocking on doors right now is, is nobody really wants to talk about those things that were big issues last time. What people are talking about right now, Peter, is that, you know, nobody wants their town or their hamlet or their city to be a Portland, Oregon, or a Seattle, Washington. That's the thing that's resonating with people. And certainly then this covid pandemic that that we've experienced, those are the things that have people bending my ear about what are we doing? You know, how is it going to be different? So those are the kind of issues that we're talking about primarily on the phone.

Peter Biello:
Well, let's talk about a few of those issues with respect to covid-19, what more do you think Congress should be doing to address it?

Steve Negron:
Well, sure. Well, the first thing Congress should be doing is not spend as much money as they spent to date. One of the things when you look at some of these bills that come out, especially the first one, I personally believe that there was a lot of money that was actually put in there that really was not required for the pandemic.

Peter Biello:
Like, for example?

Steve Negron:
Oh, sure. So you look at you had some money in there for a performing center that was there. And the irony about that is that the money gets to the performing center, but nobody can go to it. So it should have been a very simple litmus test. If it doesn't directly go to something that's affected by covid-19, it shouldn't be in there.

Peter Biello:
But so are you saying, though, that that businesses like the performing arts are not affected by the covid-19 pandemic?

Steve Negron:
Well, certainly the business itself, no. Some of the people that it's not...

Peter Biello:
Even though people can't go to a theater because of the pandemic, the theater is not itself affected by the pandemic?

Steve Negron:
Well, the theater is affected by the pandemic because of our overreaction to the situation where people are not allowed to go to a situation or to a theater to enjoy themselves. So I think it's the reaction to the pandemic that actually affected the theater.

Peter Biello:
Are you saying not not allowing large numbers of people to gather in small enclosed spaces is an overreaction to an airborne illness that's killed more than 170,000 people?

Steve Negron:
Well, I think, Peter, that's a discussion probably for another day. But, yes, the point is, you know, you can limit you can do some things that are out there. But one of the things that when we made these decisions, we didn't know a lot about this pandemic. We know a lot more about this pandemic. And so I think we should have adjusted what we were doing. But you look at some of the spending that came in that bill, and I personally believe that there was a lot of stuff that wasn't required that was that was put in there.

Peter Biello:
Ok, and so do you approve of the way President Trump has handled the crisis?

Steve Negron:
Yes, I do. I believe that what we have right now was, you know, early on and it was unfortunate then when the president was actually restricting flights from China, they were actually signing articles of impeachment. So, look,as you go down the road, you get smarter, you adjust your approach. And I think the president, based on the information that he was given, is doing as good a job as anybody that could have done it in the White House.

Peter Biello:
Regarding spending levels even before the pandemic began, President Trump's tax cuts ballooned the deficit, ballooned the debt, and this was before pandemic spending happened. Do you approve of those tax cuts from a fiscal policy position?

Steve Negron:
I approve of the tax cuts, but I've got to tell you, Peter, that with tax cuts, you have to do debt reduction. Those things have to go hand in hand. I know that the president was trying to do those. I don't think we've moved as far as we as we needed to. The tax cuts were important to the middle class, but we did I personally didn't see a lot of debt reduction that was happening at....parallel to that, and I believe that's something that has to happen. You have a tax break, you have to have debt reduction at the same time.

Peter Biello:
So aside from from covid spending, which you feel like in some areas needs to be reined in, are there any other areas of of spending reduction that you would like to see and that you would advocate for in Congress?

Steve Negron:
Oh, absolutely. I think that our spending is out of control. I think that everything is on the table. You know, my company does primarily DOD work. I believe that there is a way to be able to be more efficient with the money that we have and that it goes across all the departments in the government. I think our government is too big, it's too bloated. And I think we have to be able to rein this stuff in. And, you know, we're at twenty six trillion and counting. We have to be able to to rein that in. If not, then the country that we've grown to love and appreciate is not going to be there for our children or our children's children.

Peter Biello:
Listeners, if you've got questions for Republican Steve Negron as he runs for Congress in New Hampshire 2nd District, give us a call. Steve Negron, you're from Nashua, the most diverse city in New Hampshire. What steps would you take in Congress to address racial injustice on behalf of your constituents?

Steve Negron:
Well, sure. Well, that's that's an interesting topic. And being the only minority and being 100% Hispanic in this race, you know, I have a perspective that most people who talk about racial injustice do not. There are going to be situations where we have bad people doing bad things. But to make this as an indictment against our country I think is a bit far reaching and and really not well founded.

Peter Biello:
I'm sorry. I don't understand what what indictment are you referring to?

Steve Negron:
So you talk about your situation, what happened in Minneapolis when you had Mr. Floyd and all of a sudden there was an indictment that there's just a prevailing social and racial injustice that's happened across this country. And what I talk about that and I've been asked about that a lot because of my perspective, is that absolutely there are those situations are where those people there are people that do some things based on race or color, which are wrong. But I don't believe this country is in a situation where it this prevailing feeling. You know, I was just at an event last night and for me, the litmus test is, you know, are we better than we were in 1960? Absolutely. Are we perfect? No, we're not. Is there always a place and room for improvement? Yes. And those people should be heard because they also have a voice. But it isn't a situation where we're seeing across this country where we see towns like Portland and Seattle and then what happened in Wisconsin. I think that's not the way to (inaudible) justice. And I think people need to understand that if somebody has an issue, we need to be able to listen to it.

Peter Biello:
So just to put a fine point on it, do you believe there are areas of systemic racism inside the federal government or inside American society at large that need to be addressed?

Steve Negron:
No, I don't, I reject the notion of systemic racism. I will tell you that there are...

Peter Biello:
What about what about redlining, though? Federal policies that prohibited black and brown families from buying properties in certain areas that led to generations of wealth inequality? That's a federal policy.

Steve Negron:
Are you saying there's a redlining policy today that exists?

Peter Biello:
No, not today. I'm referring to generations ago where it cascades over decades?

Steve Negron:
Sure. I mean, we can go back and try to pin the sins of my father on me. But the issue is, you know, you have to ask your question, are we better today? If the answer is yes then I think we're making progress. We can go back into history and look at all the bad decisions that were made and all of a sudden try to make it to a point that it's affecting us right now. What I respectfully suggest is that we we know that there's places that we can improve and that's what we're trying to do.

Peter Biello:
So so what are those places and how would you how would you work to improve them?

Steve Negron:
Sure. Absolutely. I think that everybody has an opportunity to make to make their own way in this country. I believe that everybody's responsible for each other, I mean, for themselves. You know, it shouldn't be about the government giving me a situation over one or another because of color. Look, we're all created equal. And I firmly believe that. I believe the Constitution provides for those provisions that everybody is equal. When we find areas where they're not equal, we need to go ahead and adjust those. If there's companies that have bad hiring practices and it's legitimate then we need to address those. But it isn't something that is that is prevailing over this country. And look, you know, as a Hispanic, you know, I had some situations growing up where I was not allowed and was not given access to some things. But I chose not to be a victim. I chose to be able to take that and learn from it and make myself better. And I'm here on the New Hampshire Public Radio talk show as a candidate for the United States Congress, as 100% Hispanic. So I think we've done some great things over the last couple of decades.

Peter Biello:
I want to ask you a little bit about health care policy and transition here. You've said that the cost of health care is one of your highest priorities. You've also said the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, given that covid-19 has disproportionately impacted black and brown people in this country. The same people whose access to health care has been improved most under the ACA, how would you address this disparity?

Steve Negron:
Sure. Well, let's go prior to covid-19, you know, we had the lowest unemployment rate. We had the most jobs that are out there for both blacks and browns and Hispanics. We were going along. We were doing very well. The issue with health care is that it has to be affordable and accessible. And I believe there are some things out now that are preventing that. I believe in our great state right now we need access to more providers. We need to bring down barriers to entry so that other people can come in and that we as a consumer, we need to be able to do competitive shopping and comparative shopping just like we do everything else. You know, I can go and find a different company for my boat insurance or my house insurance or my car insurance. But somehow right now, we are precluded from doing that in the current health care state and we need to bring down those barriers to entry. I believe that transparency and cost, you know, we all get an explanation of benefits that we see that an MRI cost $3500 as an example, when I know that I can go and get that same procedure, probably with the same equipment and probably the same technicians for $500-$700, you need to empower the consumer. This is no different. I think government needs to get out of the business of health care. Give me the consumer the opportunity to make those decisions on my own. And I think that's how we're going to bring down the health care and affordability and accessibility to this country.

Peter Biello:
Do you support the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that allow people up to the age of 26, for example, to stay on their parents health insurance and also the provision that prevents companies from denying people because of preexisting conditions? Do you support those?

Steve Negron:
So I'll take the second one. I believe that nobody should be excluded about preexisting conditions. And look, the thing about the 26 year old, I have three children all over the age of twenty one. They all have their own health care. I believe what happens when you allow a child to stay on to 26, in my opinion, as a father, it's not the incentive for me to go out. I started my health care when I was 22 as soon as I got out of college. I think you minimize the effect of a child trying to go out on their own. That's something that I would look at. I'll be honest with you, I'm not a fan of keeping kids on until 26.

Peter Biello:
We get this question from Liza in Claremont. Liza asks, Does the candidate support a woman's right to make her own health care decisions?

Steve Negron:
Sure, absolutely. You know, they can go to whatever doctor they want, they can go whatever they want, they shouldn't be told what person or what doctor they need to go to. So in the spirit of health care, absolutely. They should be able to make that decision just like I do when I go to whatever dentist I want or whatever chiropractor I want. That's my decision as an individual and I should have every right for health care to be able to go and seek whatever provider I see fit for me or my family.

Peter Biello:
Do you support a woman's right to choose to have an abortion?

Steve Negron:
No, I do not.

Peter Biello:
Paul in Plymouth wanted to know about the Affordable Care Act, your position on it. You've made clear that you don't support it, but what would you replace it with, if anything?

Steve Negron:
Sure. Well, first of all, I'd get the government out of health care and I would look at the open market and I would look at those things we talked about earlier about bringing down the cost, bringing down accessibility, opening up barriers to entry to bring people in, giving you insight and transparency into the cost, and give you an opportunity as a consumer to be able to make that decision. You know, I shouldn't be told these are my only options and we do it in everything else we do. I believe you have to have the ability to do what's right for you and your family. And that's just going to be transparency.

Peter Biello:
Angela wrote in, she has this question: What is the middle class tax break that we got from this administration. Who actually benefited from this administration's tax cut?

Steve Negron:
Well, I can tell you, there's many families that I talked to, in New Hampshire, you're looking at about $1200 extra in their paycheck.

Peter Biello:
Was that the tax cut or was that a covid-19 stimulus?

Steve Negron:
No, no, this was a tax cut that was done in 2017. That's what she's talking about.

Peter Biello:
Oh, I'm sorry. I think she was referring to the tax cuts passed a couple of years ago, well before the covid-19 outbreak.

Steve Negron:
Right, yes, sir.

Peter Biello:
OK, well, let's let's tackle another question, because there are a few issues we want to get into with respect to immigration policy. On your campaign website, you say that, quote, The Pelosi/Custer agenda limits law enforcement and expands risk to public safety. What specific policy does that?

Steve Negron:
When you limit the effect of federal agencies down on the border to actually do their job to apprehend illegal immigrants that are coming here, I don't know if you know, Peter, my grandfather came here from Mexico in 1921. He immigrated into this country. And there's a sense of pride, and I'm just going to speak from my family's perspective and a lot of the Hispanics that I know, to come to this country and to be a contributing citizen. You know, everybody wants to talk about citizenship, but there is like 168 ways to come into this country with visas and work visas and those kind of things. I think we need to allow those people that follow the rule, we are a land of laws. There's a right way to do it. We need to get back to doing those things. And I think what we've seen from the Custer/Pelosi agenda, they don't want to actually do that. They believe that for whatever reason, which I don't fully understand, that open borders is something that they would want. That's not what I'm what I'm about. I don't believe that. I believe that we have a responsibility to keep our country safe. There are people that come across this border. Nobody wants to talk about human trafficking, which is another issue, but when you shackle and handcuff law enforcement to be able to do their jobs, which I believe Pelosi and Kuster have done a lot, I think you're putting a lot of the citizens in this country at risk and preventing, quite frankly, some good folks that want to come here legally from coming into the country.

Peter Biello:
A variety of studies have shown that immigrants, even those who are undocumented, make massive contributions to the U.S. economy and over time actually pay more in taxes than they draw in benefits. You've been against illegal immigration, but in your view, is there not an incentive to make it easier for people to legally immigrate here? Is that, in your view, an incentive that the government should put in place, making it easier for people to legally immigrate here?

Steve Negron:
I think anything you know, as long as we're following the law and we're allowing people to come into this country and everybody understands what the requirements are, you know, I was talking about people that are bilingual at the border to be able to have people understand what's required. I think we have to talk to a lot of the countries south of us that are bringing... People immigrate from here from from all over the world, not just from from Mexico and through Central America. But I think the countries that we need to talk to need to understand what is required to come to the state, what happens if you come into the country illegally. And I think that's a lot of people. Yes, absolutely. Are there people that are productive? You bet. But it doesn't mean that you can usurp the law. We have a process by which we have to come into this country. We should follow it.

Peter Biello:
So what about changing the law to make it easier so that some of those perhaps who who found it too difficult to immigrate under the current legal system to maybe participate in a legal way, is there a way to make it easier and what is it that way?

Steve Negron:
That's a great point. Yes, sir. I think that the immigration policy needs to be looked at from top to bottom. The visa process needs to be looked at, top to bottom. But when the dust settles and the smoke clears, whatever the law is, anybody trying to come into this country must comply with those laws if they don't get access to entry.

Peter Biello:
So so what about the visa program, for example, do you think needs to be looked at and possibly changed?

Steve Negron:
Sure. One of the ones you know, and I had a lot of small business guys talk to me about, you know, they have the work visas or the temporary work visas that were capped at 30 thousand. I believe we need to look a,t if you've already been approved once for seasonal work, then you have a situation where you're like in a pool of people that are, for lack of a better term, preapproved. And you get to come into the country. You know, they capped it and that really hurt a lot of people, landscapers, folks that have small businesses like Dunkin Donuts. I think that we limited the effect. But my real concern is understanding who fundamentally is in our country and what are they here for. And I think if you already passed the process once, then you're in a special category, if you will, You still have to apply, but you're not counted against all the new people that are trying to come in. So I think there's some ways that we can make it better, more efficient, and because they want to come here, they want to work, they want to earn a living to send back to their families. And I know a lot of them, my landscaping company, the young man who owns the company I deal with, is a former Eagle Scout of mine. And the people that come here, I've known them for three or four or five years. They're great. They're hardworking people. They want to come here, they want to earn a living, and then they want to go back. And so I believe that there are some ways that we can help alleviate that, not only for them, but some of the small businesses in our state.

Peter Biello:
What about refugees, a particular kind of immigrant? The Trump administration has limited the number of refugees that can be resettled here. This is a program set up to help those who face serious threats to their lives in their home countries. Should the U.S. reverse the Trump administration's limitations on refugees so the United State can help more of these people?

Steve Negron:
Sure. Well, I make a distinction of people that are immigrants and people that are refugees. Those are two separate categories, a class of citizens. And absolutely, if we have individuals coming from countries that are seeking asylum or as a refugee through the State Department process, absolutely. We should look at what it is that we can to help these guys in. But a lot of people try to meld those two, Peter. Saying that an immigrant is the same as a political refugee, they're not the same. And I believe that if there's a situation where somebody is coming here legitimately from a country where they fear and whatever the rules are for seeking asylum, we should be able to make sure that we're there to help those folks as well.

Peter Biello:
So should the cap be be lifted? Should the Trump administration's efforts to limit the number of refugees be reversed?

Steve Negron:
I'm at a disadvantage, to be honest with you, Peter. I don't know what the cap was and where they want to go. What I do want to say is that if, in fact, there's legitimate political concerns as a refugee that we should be there with with open ears and open arms to see if we can help those those folks out.

Peter Biello:
And when you talk about the blurring of lines between what is an immigrant and what is a refugee, the State Department process, there is one. There's also, or at least there used to be, a process by which someone could arrive at the border and say, I am a refugee, I need help, I am fleeing. Is that something you would you would support as a process for taking in refugees?

Steve Negron:
Sure, but that would be a State Department point of entry, if somebody declares himself as a refugee and not just somebody is trying to immigrate, I think we should have an ability to be able to put those people in whatever process that that needs to be so they can be properly identified as a refugee. You bet.

Peter Biello:
Mm hmm. I want to ask you about veterans health care for a moment. Veterans health care is increasingly found not at VA hospitals, but through private doctors. And this was through first the Veterans Choice Act. Now it's enabled by the Mission Act. Do you think this is the right direction for the VA? More resources for veterans seeking care outside actual VA brick and mortar hospitals.

Steve Negron:
Sure, well, my perspective as a VA is very unique, you know, I'm a veteran, my wife's a veteran, my father's retired, my son is currently serving on active duty. My family has over 112 years of military service. So my perspective is I'm a husband and a father, I'm an uncle. Absolutely. A veteran - it's a debt owed. And if there's an opportunity for them to go and seek medical attention anywhere they go, that should be able to be their choice. You know, when I was growing up, when you went to medical installations, at military facilities, they were full service hospitals. They were there at every installation. We've since gone from that model. And I believe now with the (inaudible) of the Choice Act, I believe that's something that has to be out there. Look, whatever that veteran needs, and some people still want to go to the VA system because there's a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie there, if that's what they want to do, we shouldn't limit on where a veteran needs to go. So I'm all for giving a veteran an opportunity to go and see and seek help wherever they see fit.

Peter Biello:
I want to close our conversation, Steve Negron, by asking you a question about bipartisanship. Is there an issue or a policy idea where you find common ground with Democrats and would be willing to push with them for that issue, perhaps even against members of your own party?

Steve Negron:
Oh, absolutely. You know, just because, you know, we run as a conservative, as a Republican, doesn't mean that we are a rubber stamp. You know, I believe that there are some, I believe I would love to go and talk to some folks that, you know, I believe that there's Democrats that have the same fears of the debt as I do. And I would be, you know, locked arms with them, trying to find good legislation, good work, to be able to reduce those debt. So anything that's, first of all, good for the state of New Hampshire and its state or the 2nd Congressional District, bipartisan or not, that's my first role, my first responsibility. And if I can work with Democrats as well, then so be it. I welcome that.

Peter Biello:
Steve Negron, thank you very much for speaking with me. Really appreciate it.

Steve Negron:
Thank you, sir. Have a good day.

Peter Biello:
Steve Negron, a Republican running for Congress in the primary for the Republican primary ahead of the September 8th election. You can find all our conversations with candidates running in the primary at NHPR.org.