Candidate Watch: Will Shaheen or Brown Fight Better for New Hampshire Manufacturing?

By Don C. Morton
Oct 17 2014 |
Photos courtesy Ryan Szepan and David L via Flickr

In his bid to rejoin the world’s greatest deliberative body, former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) — now running in New Hampshire — has come under attack for outsourcing American jobs. But is this criticism justified?

Incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) called on Brown to resign from Kadant, a company with significant manufacturing operations in China. While Kadant has four U.S. manufacturing facilities, the company’s 2013 Annual Report admits its business strategy relies on “using low cost manufacturing bases, such as China and Mexico.”

Brown isn’t alone in being criticized for his record on outsourcing — as the National Journal reported Thursday, it is becoming a top issue in the midterm elections.

But it’s not that clear cut. While Brown may be on the payroll at Kadant, he has supported policies to level the playing field for American workers. During his time representing Massachusetts in the Senate, for example, Brown voted to pass legislation that would stop currency manipulation by countries like China.

Brown’s fair-trade stance should resonate with voters — New Hampshire lost 20,400 jobs between 2001 and 2011 due to unfair trade with China, the highest share of any state.

Meanwhile, Shaheen has been a consistent supporter of Buy America preferences to give American manufacturers and workers the first shot a federal tax dollars. And she joined 59 of her colleagues pushing to address currency manipulation in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

Will Shaheen and Brown continue pushing for a level playing field? They are scheduled to meet in at least two televised debates later this month. They have an opportunity to show voters their commitment to reviving New Hampshire’s manufacturing sector.

Leading up to November’s midterm elections, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is following how developments on the campaign trail could impact U.S. manufacturers and their workers. AAM is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates — our goal is to highlight the discussion taking place.