SALEM — Local Republicans turned out at a North Broadway restaurant yesterday to announce their support for the congressional candidate they said would best represent the district.
That candidate is Sen. Gary Lambert, R-Nashua, they said, and not Salem’s own Marilinda Garcia, a state representative accused by her colleagues of not representing her constituents.
Approximately a dozen state lawmakers from Salem and Windham and other elected officials backed Lambert during a press conference at Gourmet Bites Catering & Cafe.
Although Garcia wasn’t mentioned by name, Lambert’s supporters made it clear they have lost confidence in her.
The group included four of Salem’s eight state representatives and former Rep. Gary Azarian of Salem. Azarian resigned his seat earlier this year for personal reasons, but intends to run again in the September primary.
The lawmakers have criticized Garcia for not supporting expanded gaming legislation that could potentially bring a casino and hundreds of jobs to Rockingham Park in Salem.
Garcia did not return a call for comment, but spokesman Tom Szold issued a statement on her behalf. He said Garcia has always been open about her opposition to expanded gambling.
“It is unfortunate that Gary Lambert has chosen to go negative, and to attack Marilinda on an issue that Republicans generally believe should be dealt with on the local, not federal level,” he said. “As for the bill in question, Marilinda has always been 100 percent clear with her voters on where she stands.
Eighty-one percent of Salem residents who went to the polls in March 2013 supported a non-binding ballot question asking if they wanted a casino in town.
“A representative didn’t support what they wanted,” Azarian said, referring to Garcia. “It’s an issue of representation.”
The four Salem GOP representatives who attended the press conference — Robert Elliott, Ronald Belanger, Joseph Sweeney and Anne Priestley — said they backed Lambert because he’s the best choice to represent local residents.