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Former State Senator Maggie Hassan of Exeter declares her candidacy for governor in the 2012 election; Tuesday, October 25, 2011. Hassan was joined by her husband Tom and children, Meg and Ben at the Manchester Community College event.


(Alexander Cohn/ Monitor Staff)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Democrat Hassan first Democrat to announce gubernatorial bid

Maggie Hassan, of Exeter, declared her Democratic candidacy for governor Tuesday, vowing to combine fiscal discipline with the need to innovate should voters elect her to replace retiring Gov. John Lynch.

Hassan, 53, becomes the first in her party to seek the office in 2012 after having served in the state Senate as a trusted ally of Lynch, a four-term Democrat.

“We must ensure that New Hampshire families have the opportunities they need to solve the problems we face today,” Hassan said, surrounded by her husband, Tom, children Ben and Meg and other supporters at Manchester Community College.

Hassan served three terms in the Senate, her last as majority leader. She helped broker the same-sex marriage law in 2009, wrote a law mandating notice of plant closings and created a commission that examined the pros and cons of the state’s death penalty.

She lost her bid for re-election in 2012 to Republican Russell Prescott of Kingston, the man she first defeated to win in a GOP-leaning district.

“Together, I believe we can create right here in New Hampshire the best work force in America. We can innovate, both in the private sector and how we run state government, and we can be fiscally disciplined, balance the budget and keep taxes low,” Hassan said.

Like Lynch has in the past, Hassan pledged she would veto a broad-based sales or income tax.

Republican State Chairman Wayne MacDonald said Hassan is a liberal tax and spender who voters will reject when she tries to run statewide.

“Voters who knew her best didn’t want her to return to the Senate because they simply couldn’t afford her leadership. As more New Hampshire voters learn of her partisan record, I’m sure they will soundly do the same,” MacDonald said in a statement. “Sen. Hassan is the architect of her failed Maggiecare and of the famous LLC tax – an income tax on New Hampshire small businesses, which was eventually repealed.”

Manchester lawyer Ovide Lamontagne announced last month that he would seek the GOP nomination and has released a long list of activists supporting him.

A Boston native, Hassan will no doubt be the establishment candidate on the Democratic side with several members of Lynch’s inner circle already advising her.

Other potential Democratic candidates are former Sen. Jackie Cilley of Barrington, ex-Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand and Mark Connolly of New Castle who headed up the state Bureau of Securities Regulation.

Conservative activist Kevin Smith of Litchfield and 2010 nominee for governor John Stephen of Manchester have said they are exploring whether to oppose Lamontagne in a GOP primary.

The severe disabilities affecting her son, Ben, motivated Hassan to first seek public office, and she’s served on the boards of the Disabilities Rights Center and Community Development Services.

Hassan authored legislation that eliminated a waiting list for developmentally impaired adults and children in need of services.

Budget cuts in the past two years re-created that waiting list.

Hassan’s work on health care reform will likely become a flash point during the campaign.

Last year, she proposed a hospital review commission with broad powers to control health care costs. Ultimately, the law became a commission to study the issue and issue a report by next July 1.

Hassan said it was unfair for consumers that costs for medical procedures varied widely from one hospital to the next.

Republican critics dubbed it “Maggiecare” and claimed that state intervention would raise costs and stifle innovation.

Her prior work experience included serving as information officer in the Massachusetts Department of Social Services and as a lawyer with the firm of Palmer and Dodge, with Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Partners Healthcare and the firm of Sullivan, Weinstein and McQuay.

An undergraduate of Brown University, she got her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in 1985.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also check out Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and don’t forget The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at www.nashuatelegraph.com/topics/livefeed.