A Care2 Exclusive Interview with NH Governor-elect Maggie Hassan
Election night was a good night for women, and in New Hampshire, women made history. Two new Democratic representatives, Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster, join Senate incumbents Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R) to make the New Hampshire the first state in history to send an all-women delegation to Washington.
Also jointing the Granite State’s wave of women at the top is Governor-elect Maggie Hassan, who, when she takes office in January, will be the only female Democratic governor in the country. Hassan handily won her election by 13 points, beating conservative Republican Ovide Lamontagne.
EMILY’s List made the New Hampshire campaigns an early priority.
“EMILY’s List is so proud of New Hampshire tonight,” said EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock following the Tuesday wins. “I was just in New Hampshire last week campaigning with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and our fantastic 2012 candidates – and the energy was incredible. Carol, Annie, and Maggie are exactly the kinds of leaders New Hampshire women and families need to push back against the Republican war on women and build a more progressive America.”
New Hampshire was one of the many states to attempt to defund Planned Parenthood locally, with their executive council voting 3-2 to end state funding to the clinic in order to “protect taxpayers from funding abortions.”
The governor’s race was a contentious one, pitting Hassan, a former state Senate majority leader, against Tea Party favorite Lamontagne. Hassan takes over from two-term Democratic Governor John Lynch, who is retiring. As Boston.com reported:
Hassan’s campaign stressed the need to repair damage done by the Republican Legislature in its last budget, particularly by restoring deep cuts to public colleges and the state’s hospitals.
Hassan promised Tuesday night to work find common ground with Republicans.
I spoke to Hassan by telephone earlier today and asked her about her win, and her vision for moving her state and the country.
How do you see your role as the only woman democratic governor?
It’s really important whenever you have a group of people solving problems that you have as broad a range of experience and perspective at the table as you can, and that’s my role as being the only democratic woman governor. I hope to bring my experience and my perspective to that role to the degree that governors work together to solve tough problems or to work with the federal government to solve tough problems. But mostly I’m just focused on moving New Hampshire forward.
How do you see New Hampshire now coming together?
We have a really wonderful and deep tradition and culture of citizen participation at all levels of government and community and so we have had a lot of women involved in the electoral process and in public service for a number of years.
You may know that Jeanne Shaheen is the first women in the country’s history to serve as both governor and United States senator. And so what you saw last night with women winning all these races and being elected to serve is a reflection of that culture and tradition. I think it’s very exciting that young women around the country can see that it doesn’t have to be unusual for this to happen and I hope we get to a place where it isn’t unusual to have this many women representing the people of a state.
Do you see this as a kind of a microcosm for the rest of the country in moving forward and everyone being able to work together?
I think it’s important in a couple of ways. First of all I think one of the things we’ve learned from the past couple of years is that we are determined to continue to move forward and that women have seen great progress in the last 50 years in terms of being able to be full and equal members of society, being able to have equal opportunity. What we do in this country is we make sure people have a fair shot. Many of the things that this very conservative and Tea Party group did in the last couple of years really threatened women’s economic equality and viability and so I’m really excited by the fact that we seem to have election results from last night that really reject that backwards motion and will keep us moving forward so that women can be full participants.
What kinds of battles do you see fighting in the larger sphere as the only pro-choice woman governor?
I think it’s really important that we remind each other, regardless of political party, that our founders had at the time a very revolutionary idea, that if you respected every individual’s liberties and freedoms, that you would thrive as a country, be able to lead as a country economically, and be a strong union that is a major force in the global economy. And one of the things that I think we all have to take some time to think about moving forward is that respect of individual liberties and freedoms is critical to economic participation and economic growth.
What are the top 3 things you want progressives to know?
I think it’s really important that we continue to participate in grassroots retail, public discussion and political activism, because the best way that we’re going to move forward as a country and in the Granite State is for people to talk to each other about what they care about, what their hopes are, because when you do that you realize how much we have in common and you realize we can find common sense solutions even with some political differences.
The second thing we all have to focus on is just moving forward, making sure we are innovating in every way we can, whether it’s making government transparent, or making sure that our education system is preparing our young people for the jobs of today and tomorrow — something I’m very focused on here.
And the third thing is to just keep working as hard as we can to have these kinds of conversations with each other as a country, and as a state.
Photo credit: sskennel via flickr