MANCHESTER – Believing that state Senate District 16 is ripe for a Democratic pick-up in November, a high-powered group of party activists has filed political committee to draft veteran Manchester attorney and former legislator and party vice chair Maureen Raiche Manning as a candidate for the seat.
The Draft Maureen Raiche Manning Committee was filed with the Secretary of State’s Office Monday afternoon by Manchester Board of Mayor and Alderman Chairman Dan O’Neil. The committee includes 25 Democrats who have long been involved in party politics, headed by former U.S. Rep. Dick Swett and his wife, human rights activist and former congressional candidate Katrina Lantos Swett.
No Democrat declared for the seat during the June filing period, leaving some Democrats with the impression that it was a missed opportunity.
The feeling among key Democrats now is that with current Republican state Sen. David Boutin facing a primary challenge from conservative state Rep. Jane Cormier, (both are Hooksett residents), the winner will emerge in a weakened position and could be vulnerable to a strong Democratic candidate, even though the seat has traditionally been Republican.
Republicans currently hold a 13-11 majority in the Senate.
Maureen Raiche Manning, 52, is a well-known attorney at the law office of Manning and Zimmerman PLLC. She is the daughter of attorney Robert Raiche Sr. and is married to Donald Manning, a member of the state Ballot Law Commission and a former 17-year staffer with the House Democratic Office and House Chief of Staff from 2006 to 2010.
She is a lifelong resident of Manchester who was elected to the New Hampshire House at age 19 and remains the youngest woman ever elected to a seat in the state Legislature.
She was appointed by then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen as a member of the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission, serving from 1997 to 2004. She is a founding member of the New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association and was its first president.
Raiche Manning has served on the Board of Governors of the New Hampshire Bar Association and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. She has also been Chair of the New Hampshire Women’s Lobby and as Vice Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. She currently serves on the New Hampshire Association for Justice’s Board of Governors and the New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Advisory Board.
As an attorney she focuses on personal injury, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, wrongful death and Social Security disability cases, according to her firm’s web site.
“I believe Maureen would be an excellent candidate for the State Senate. She will keep our economy moving forward, fight tirelessly to expand opportunity for middle class families, and solve problems by bringing people together,” O’Neil said in a statement.
In order to appear on the November general election ballot Raiche Manning will have to receive at least 35 write in votes or one more than any other Democrat who may also attempt a write-in. She is expected to reach that requirement easily.
Democratic say District 16 has been a swing district for the top of the ticket and say that Democrats have come close to winning the seat in the past.
In 2012, a Democratic year statewide, Boutin defeated Democrat Kathleen Kelley Arnold, 13,876 to 13,480. In 2010, a Republican year, Boutin defeated Arnold 11,678 to 8,500.
While the former Republican state senator, current Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, won easily over Democrat Bob Backus in 2008, two years earlier it was a closer election, with Gatsas winning by about 300 votes out of about 18,000 votes cast.
District 16 includes Bow, Candia, Dunbarton, Hooksett and Manchester Wards 1, 2 and 12.
An email sent prior to the official announcement from a “draft Maureen Manning” email address, 25 key Democrats wrote, “We believe we need a new state Senator. We want someone who will keep our economy moving forward, fight tirelessly to expand opportunity for middle class families and solve problems by bringing people together.”
Mike Roche of Hooksett, a former president of the local Steelworkers union, is the treasurer of the committee and besides the Swetts, O’Neil and Roche, members are listed as:
State Rep. Mary Beth Walz. Bow
• Selectman Harry Judd of Bow
• Merrimack County Chair Jon Bresler, Bow
• Selectman and former State Rep. Dick Snow, Candia
• Dunbarton Democratic Town Chair Brad Asbury, Dubarton
• Former State Rep. Eileen Ehlers, Hooksett
• Hooksett Democratic Chair Bob Ehlers, Hooksett
• Former Ward 12 Alderman and 2013 Mayoral Candidate Patrick Arnold
• Former School Board at Large Member and Past District 16
Nominee Kathleen Kelley Arnold
• State Rep. Jeff Goley, Manchester
• State Rep. and Past District 16 Nominee Bob Backus, Manchester
• Manchester Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig, Manchester
• State Rep. Peter Ramsey, Manchester
• State Rep. Linda DiSilvestro, Manchester
• State Rep. Daniel Sullivan, Manchester
• Manchester City Democratic Chair Liz Kulig, Manchester
• Business Owner Will Kanteres, Manchester
• Business Owner Meryl Levin, Manchester
• Community Leader Jim Townsend, Manchester
• Community Leader Jess Clark, Manchester
• Community Leader Carol Backus, Manchester