A longtime physician and key whistle-blower who helped force change at the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center is running for Congress as a Republican.
Dr. Stewart Levenson, an 18-year employee of the New Hampshire VA hospital who retired this year as a department head, says he’s aiming to beat incumbent Representative Ann McLane Kuster, a Democrat, in the state’s Second Congressional District.
Levenson was an important voice in a series of stories from The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team detailing what several doctors and other medical staffers alleged was dangerously substandard care given at the facility, New Hampshire’s only hospital for veterans. The VA took swift action after the initial newspaper report, initiating a review, firing staff, and vowing new funds.
So why is Levenson, a 60-year-old Hopkinton, N.H., resident, now running for Congress?
“Frustration!” he said in a telephone interview. “This process has been an eye-opener, and not in a good way. I’ve spent years trying to get better care for veterans.”
He recalled hitting roadblock after roadblock in trying to solve the hospital’s problems before he finally reached out to the Globe.
Levenson, who considers himself a conservative, said two of his top issues are fiscal responsibility and government efficiency.
“There is so much waste in government,” he said.
He said he doesn’t trust his elected officials to tackle important issues facing the people of New Hampshire. Health care, for one.
“Gridlock in Washington has very real effects to the people in the districts,” he said, ticking off time after time when federal policy had a negative effect on his veteran patients.
Levenson reportedly faces at least one other Republican in the GOP primary.
Kuster, a lawyer, ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2010. She won in 2012, and was reelected in 2014 and 2016.
The congressional district is considered competitive.
Last year it voted 48.6 percent for Hillary Clinton and 46.2 percent for Donald Trump, according to calculations by Daily Kos website.Joshua Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.