Editor’s note: This interview was conducted before Testerman pulled the plug on her own campaign for the seat on June 13.
Karen Testerman is an advocate for constitutional rights. She founded Cornerstone Policy Research, National Heritage Center for Constitutional Studies, Liberty Harbor Academy and other conservative think-tank and research entities. She is also host of the radio show “We Hold These Truths,” in which she discusses federal and state public policies.
She is also gunning for the Senate seat occupied by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) – the same seat former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) has his sights set on. If she is victorious, it would be the first time Testerman has held public office.
“We need people with moral fiber, a strong backbone and the desire to restore the constitutional republic that our finding fathers gave us,” Testerman says, explaining her reasons for entering the midterm race.
If elected, Testerman would make a push to restore the U.S. to a contingent of states that make up the central government – not the other way around – which she asserts is more in line with how the Founders intended the country to operate.
“Right now we seem to be one central government that tells the states what to do,” she says. “We need to allow the states to do the activities that should be left up to the states and those are the things that are taking up 68 percent of our federal budget – education, welfare and pensions all belong at the state level.”
Testerman says education is just one of the many ways the federal government is “failing” the states. She says the nation’s math and science scores compared to the rest of the world are an example of this, and while the scores fall the government continues to spend money on programs that are leading to inadequacies and deficiencies in these key subjects. She says that even the implementation of Common Core by states is unconstitutional because it was ushered in under the “guise that it is an individual state decision.”
“In fact it has nothing to do with elected representatives,” she says. “It has everything to do with an elite group of people who decided that they would sign into this agreement with the federal government.”
Testerman definitely considers Brown, whom she describes as a “Massachusetts liberal,” to be one of those aforementioned “elite.”
She not only accuses Brown of “trying to buy a Senate seat,” but also questions his party affiliation, saying that he is not an “80 percenter” — a nod to Ronald Reagan.
“I don’t know why he is running as a Republican,” Testerman says. “He votes more in line with the Democrats. … I would welcome him to primary with Jeanne Shaheen, which he seems to be doing in the media anyway, rather than trying to confuse our Republican primary.”
The reason the media has already anointed Brown as the GOP challenger, according to Testerman, is because of the money and name recognition he brings with him to the race. She says it wasn’t until President Obama’s policies were rolled out in the state that Shaheen’s seat even seemed winnable.
Despite Brown’s money and name recognition, Testerman stresses that New Hampshire is a state in which elections are won at a grassroots level. She said the campaign ads bought by Brown are not enough to win over voters and that Brown will not be able to connect with them on a “person-to-person” level.
“That’s how you win New Hampshire,” she said. “The one-on-one contact, willingness to take questions, answer those questions and be willing to sit down with the people.”
Testerman also lauds the number of people that, so far, have made monetary contributions to her campaign. She said her campaign has more individual contributors than “all of the other candidates combined” despite the sluggish economy and struggling middle class.
According to Testerman, the first thing the U.S. must do to fix the economy is to secure and control the borders. Alongside that, she would remove the “restrictive rules and regulations” on small businesses and lower the corporate tax rate. She says that those regulations make business owners less likely to speculate and take risks to expand their business in order to create more jobs.
“Those rules and regulations are also eating up jobs to some extent because they require a compliance officer to be a part of every business which cuts down on the ability of [small businesses] to go out and create more jobs,” she said.
Testerman says the next step to help turn around the economy around is to remove all subsidies and return to a “true market-based, capitalist society.”
“We know that that has been a success before in America and we need to get back to it,” she says.
Allowing the free market to dictate energy policies, for example, would show which sources are viable for the future of the country, Testerman says. She says the U.S. cannot cut its reliance on coal and petroleum because there is no practical energy source to replace them. Her answer to energy independence is natural gas and expanded oil drilling.
“If we were to take advantage of the oil reserves that we have in this country and start drilling and building the pipeline, we could unleash a large amount of energy and money into the whole system,” she says. “It would enable us to be energy independent and become the oil reserves for the rest of the world. And by doing so we could also provide for our allies so they don’t have to be dependent on the Middle East or Russia for their energy reserves.”
Testerman says she is better prepared for this campaign than she was as gubernatorial candidate in 2010 or for her previous bids for state Senate.
“When I ran for governor it was my first state-wide race,” she said. “What I learned from it was organization and feet on the ground.”
(For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)