Hassan Fires Up Female Electorate
Exeter resident Maggie Hassan is running for governor.
A relatively small but feisty crowd gathered at the Statehouse on April 28, united behind a common cause – preserving women’s economic and reproductive rights, getting more women involved in the political process, and turning out the vote in November.
But the highlights of the four sections of speeches were the women who are running for major offices this year.
Ann McLane Kuster, an attorney, kicked things off by explaining why she was making a second attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. Charles Bass, R-NH-2. She spoke about her work as an adoption attorney and the need to empower women to run for office. Kuster said women couldn’t afford to sit around and wait for change any longer.
“We have to get involved, we have to get engaged,” she said. “It’s true that things need to change … and we are the ones that we’ve been waiting for.”
Democrat Jackie Cilley, a former state Senator from Barrington running for governor, said the rally was not just about women – it was also about men, the families men and women create together, and the downtown businesses that dot main streets across the state. She praised “factory girls,” the women in her family and those women who made financial contributions to their families in the past. Cilley said women couldn’t afford to let “radical Republicans” send women back into the kitchen.
“Women reinvest more dollars into their communities,” she said. “The economy of New Hampshire depends on a qualified, educated workforce and we need women’s voices in this discussion.”
State Rep. Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, the former Speaker of the House, asked rhetorically why Republicans were so afraid to have women make their own decisions about their bodies or what information they were given about their health care. She challenged cuts made to Planned Parenthood, domestic violence funding, and attempts to limit access to contraception by the current Legislature. Norelli said it was no time to turn back to the 1970s when women had very few protections.
“I am left wondering, What are they afraid of?,” she asked. “But you know what? Now, they will discover that they have stirred a quiet giant … We are women and a few good men and we are hear to rally … we are here to run for office … we are here to vote.”
Maggie Hassan, another Democrat and former state Senator running for governor, said she never would have thought that women would need to hold a rally like NH Women United in 2012. She said during a recent House debate on legislation to curb contraception, she challenged Republican candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne to explain his position on the issue. Instead, he issued a press release saying she was grandstanding, she said. Hassan said women needed to grandstand “to stand up for ourselves.” Hassan also criticized House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mount Vernon, for attaching legislation that had been rejected in the Senate onto a bipartisan economic development bill that would improve the economy.
“He’s got it backwards. You don’t strengthen the economy by limiting women’s rights,” she said. “You grow the economy by recognizing that you can trust women with their own decisions, by recognizing that we do not have liberty, as every citizen in our state and country is guaranteed, until we have the right and unless we keep the right to make our own basic health care decisions.”