EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

November 7, 2012

Women take the reins in Granite State

Power makes a gender shift in N.H.

Election Day became women’s day in New Hampshire.

Women soon will occupy all the state’s congressional seats, the governor’s office and the chief justice’s chair on the state Supreme Court.

Another woman is a contestant for speaker of the New Hampshire House, which her party now controls.

“Amazing,” said Laura Thibault, interim director of NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire, surveying the election results. “It makes me so proud to live in this state that has reaffirmed its trust in women, its faith in women. This is the state we know and love.”

Sarah Gannon-Weston, Democratic chairman in Danville, thought women’s issues absolutely were critical to the outcome.

“The majority of women and families in New Hampshire do not want women to lose their ability to make their own health-care choices,” Gannon-Weston said.

The women in charge include U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, Congressmen-elect Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan and Chief Justice Linda Dalianis.

Terie Norelli soon could join them as Speaker of the New Hampshire House. Democrats won control of the House; Norelli formerly held the post and is interested in serving again.

Thibault said her group, which advocates for women’s reproductive, health and aborton rights, is thrilled.

“We felt Speaker (William) O’Brien’s antics and the extremism we saw was not the will of the people,” she said.

The lesson of the election for those who were championing restrictions on family planning and access to abortions is that is not the New Hampshire way, Thibault said.

Democrats successfully used women’s health issues to make gains in the election, according to Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry.

“They turned it into a women’s health war and beat us,” he said.

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