by David Garlock
When I first saw the headline in the New York Times about women winning the
top five elected seats in New Hampshire during the November elections, I
wondered for a second if I had picked up the Onion by mistake.
the story more, my eye immediately caught a reference to New Hampshire being a
‘pinko’ state. How could that be? What about the reclusive and iconoclastic
state’s license plates that have the state’s motto Live Free or Die stamped on them?
after I found my glasses, poured a cup of strong coffee from Whole Foods and read
the clever lead in the Times again, I
saw my eyes had lied.
states are red or blue. A few are purple.
After the November election, New Hampshire turned pink,” the lead made
Turned pink sounded a lot better than pinko state.
next looked at the Washington Post, NPR
and several other sites and learned New Hampshire had indeed become the first
state in U.S. history to send an all-female Congressional delegation to
Washington in 2012. The new female House members joined two who already held
Debbie Walsh, the
director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, waxed
philosophical about this political earthquake, telling NPR it “may be the
biggest milestone for women in politics since Californians sent Barbara Boxer
and Diane Feinstein to the U.S. Senate in 1992.”
New Hampshire seems to have
gone even further than California, adding females who are also mothers with at
least two children each. The four new members of Congress join a governor (who had
also been the majority leader of the State Senate) and another as speaker of
the state’s House. They will mix with a woman who is chief justice of the State
Supreme Court and also served on the New Hampshire bench for more than three
office-holders are not flukes or protest-type candidates who somehow turn up in
many elections. It’s business-as-usual
for New Hampshire and these politicians have extensive legal, political or managerial
is small but not puny
much about the Granite State indicates a follow-the-crowd or overly-feministic
view of the world. The 5th smallest
state still only ranks 41st in population
but was the first of the British North American colonies to break away from Great Britain in January 1776, later becoming one of the original 13
even as one of the smallest states in the Union, New Hampshire still ranks No.
4 IN THE WORLD in one way. The state’s 400
congressional members make it the “fourth- largest governing body in the
English-speaking world, trailing only the United States Congress, British
Parliament and Indian Parliament,” the Times
announced with what had to be mock gravity.
odds are probably pretty good you could toss a $20 bill on a bar table and ask
people (only after they put their smart phones away) to name the four largest
governing bodies in the English-speaking world and double your money every
of the newly-elected New Hampshire Congressional members are
married and three have law degrees between them, including U.S. Senator Kelly
Ayotte. Called “one tough Granite Grizzly” by Sarah Palin from that other ‘outlier’
state, Ayotte has already argued a case in
front of the U.S. Supreme Court and been
mentioned as a vice presidential candidate.
Ayotte’s new Senate colleague Jeanne
Shaheen makes the New Hampshire duo the only ‘split-party’ women to represent a
state in the U.S. Senate. Being a
trendsetter is not new to Shaheen either: she is the first woman ever elected as both a governor and a senator.
The third law school graduate, new House
member Ann Kuster, worked for years as an adoption attorney and was involved in
more than 300 adoptions. She followed her mother into the New Hampshire state
senate. The two them wrote a book about
Alzheimer’s disease before her mom died.
other new House member, Carol Shea- Porter, was the first woman elected to national office from New
The new governor, Maggie Hassan, was
majority leader in the State Senate, where she served as the assistant whip, president pro tempore, and majority
leader during her six years in office.
Hassan will be the nation's
only female Democratic governor after 2012.
New Hampshire may only the 5th
largest state in the Union, but it’s hard to think of any other one with as
many women not only in positions of power --- but running everything!