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Political Note #359   Maggie Hassan New Hampshire US Senate

2022                            General Election

Maggie Hassan’s reelection is not a sure thing.  Her election has never been a sure thing.  In her earliest political efforts, she ran for and was elected to the New Hampshire state Senate.  She ran five times, was elected three times, lost twice. Both losses were to Russell Prescott, who she defeated once.  He’s a Member of the New Hampshire Governor’s Council now (Governor’s Councils are a distinctive New England institution which, among other things, confirm judicial appointments).  To the best of my knowledge, Prescott is not running for US Senate in 2022 – a good thing for Maggie Hassan.

Maggie Hassan is a distinguished member of a family with other distinguished members.  Her dad, Robert Coldwell Wood, was a political scientist with a focus on urban studies.  He taught at MIT, served as president of the University of Massachusetts for seven years during which time he brought the JFK Presidential Library to a property adjacent to UMass-Boston, served as Undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development (and as Secretary for two weeks) under Lyndon Johnson, and was awarded the Norbert Wiener Medal for Cybernetics (the study of communication and control especially including the use of computers).  Among her father’s accomplishments was winning a Bronze Star during WW II.  He left Princeton, where he was a student, to join the army – rising to the role of Sargent.

Maggie Hassan met her husband at Brown, where they were both undergraduates.  She got a law degree from Northeastern and practiced law in Boston – for large firms and, for three years, as associate general counsel for a hospital/health care practice. Her husband was an educator, still is.  Like her father, he got his degrees from Harvard.  He worked at the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire where they settled.  After working as head of college counseling and Dean of Admissions (positions that gatekeepersd into the American aristocracy), he served as head of school from 2009 to 2015.  He became “first gentleman” of New Hampshire when Maggie Hassan became governor in 2013.  He left Exeter at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year as his wife prepared to run for the US Senate in 2016. Since then, he has led the School Year Abroad program that places students in private schools in Europe.

Maggie Hassan was elected to the US Senate in 2016 by 1,017 votes.  That was a slightly smaller margin than she won by when she defeated Russell Prescott in her second try to join the New Hampshire Senate – 1,147 votes.  Before running for the state senate Maggie Hassan had become a special education activist, appointed to commissions by then Governor, now Senator, Jeanne Shaheen. The activism was a product of Maggie Hassan’s fight to ensure that her son, who could not speak, walk, or use his hands due to severe multiple sclerosis, would be able to attend public schools, learn to be with typical children, and have typical children learn to be with him.  Her personal success and her public activism propelled her into the State Senate where she eventually became majority leader.  While in the Senate she helped raise the school leaving age from 16 to 18. This effort, intended to reduce the drop-out rate succeeded in its purpose. Another education-related success was a bill to require insurance companies to cover the cost of autism related therapies.

As State Senate majority leader Maggie Hassan skillfully managed alternative proposals to approve same sex marriage, even winning praise from those who opposed the idea.  Despite her election loss in 2010 to Russell Prescott, her successes as a legislator propelled her to being the Democratic nominee for Governor.  As Governor, among her successes was an executive order prohibiting discrimination against trans people.

During her campaign and while Governor, Maggie Hassan came across political questions about her husband’s name.  Was he an Arab, a secret Muslim?  Was he Jewish with a name like the Hebrew word for cantor?  Neither.  He’s Irish.  The Gaelic would be O hOsain – son of a deer.  Tom and Maggie Deere, maybe.

Maggie Hassan had lost her State Senate race in 2010, according to the Boston Globe, due to the imposition of taxes on Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). This tax capped a senate career during which she was an aggressive partisan on behalf of Democratic legislative goals.  She won election as governor in 2012 arguing for bipartisanship.  In victory, with the exception of the executive order mentioned above, she was cautious, committed to stability rather than partisan fights.  That approach won her reelection in 2014 and, as she advocated a bipartisan approach in the US Senate, her very slim victory in 2016.

Maggie Hassan continues that cautious approach as Senator and in her run for 2022.  She introduces herself as someone who works successfully across party lines.  If she complains about anyone  “rigging” anything, it is large corporations.   If there is something to fight, it is the opioid crisis and climate change.

Maggie Hassan is clearly a Democrat.  She works on behalf of women’s ability to make their own health care decisions.  She protects Medicare and Social Security.  She was, hosever, one of the eight Democrats to oppose Covid relief payments for the undocumented.  She is working to ensure that Massachusetts can not tax people working from home in New Hampshire

She has had one scandal.  A fired aide, passionate in his opposition to the Supreme Court appointment of Brett Kavanaugh and incidentally, angry that Maggie Hassan had fired him, released information about four Republican Senators who supported the appointment.  A current aide, unaware of his purpose, had allowed the fired aide the use of her keys and, therefore, access to the information.

How do her constituents perceiver her?  Her approval is just under 50% according to a recent poll.  Worse, almost 50% respond “yes” to a question about whether Maggie Hassan should be replaced.  Fewer than 40% say “no.”

We are a long way from November, 2022.  We don’t have information about 2022 funds raised yet.  If Maggie Hassan can do as well as her colleague Jeanne Shaheen did in 2020, she’ll have the resources to persuade New Hampshire voters.  Shaheen raised $19 million to her opponents $4 million.  For 2022, every Senate race, especially every Senate race that is competitive, the winner will need to raise a lot of money.  Help Maggie Hassan start strongMake a donation. As you know, there are now 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the US Senate. Democrats control the Senate because the Vice President votes to break a tie.  The make-up of the Senate will be dependent on the New Hampshire Senate race and a few others.

 The Cook Report projects the following incumbent Democratic Senators as Likely, or Leaning Democrat for 2022 rather than Solidly Democratic.

 Arizona                      Mark Kelly (Likely D)

Georgia                       Raphael Warnock (Lean D)

Nevada                        Catherine Cortez Maestro (Likely D)

New Hampshire      Maggie Hassan (Likely D)


Organizations to support

 The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) The campaign arm of the Democratic US Senators.

 The Democratic National Committee (DNC).  The official organization of the Democratic Party.