Here’s our top 60-plus ‘most wanted’ NH Democrats for the 2016 presidential campaign

While there’s a packed, wide open field developing on the Republican side for the 2016 first-in-the-nation primary, for the Democrats, the show stars Hillary Clinton. But that’s not to say she won’t have competition.


Already, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb has set up an exploratory committee, and you’ve read of the efforts of, Democracy for America and other progressive groups to lure Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the race.


New Hampshire has long been “Clinton Country.” Bill Clinton got his start to the presidency here in 1992 with his “Comeback Kid” second place finish, won the state in the general elections of 1992 and 1996, and of course, Hillary Clinton had her own stunning, come from behind victory in the 2008 presidential primary.


As we look at our top 66 “most wanted” New Hampshire Democrats for 2016, most either are, or will be, with Hillary. But it’s not a done deal yet, so here goes:


1. Jeanne Shaheen. The now two-term Senator and former three-term governor is the face of the modern Demorcatic Party in New Hampshire, and she has been for nearly two decade. She is the first woman to serve as a New Hampshire governor and a New Hampshire U.S. Senator and the first woman in U.S. History to serve in both roles.


2. Bill Shaheen. He has been not far behind the scenes as a major player in state Democratic politics for more than three decades. He was U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire in the late 1970s, a close friend and supporter of President Jimmy Carter and more recently was co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign in 2007. Two weeks ago, Shaheen was elected Democratic National Commiteeman.


3. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. The outgoing U.S. House member began as a party outsider and has become a beloved figure in the NHDP after serving three terms. With her down-to-earth, populist approach and grassroots network, she would be a top catch for any presidential candidate.


4. Kathy Sullivan. She is credited with a major role in the rise of the state Democratic Party in the last decade, when the state clearly shifted from Republican red to purple – and a bluer shade of purple at that. A former four-term party chairman, she also chaired a Draft Jeanne Jeanne Shaheen for Senate Committee and co-chaired and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. She is currently a state Democratic National Committeewoman and a former member of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee.


5. Gov. Maggie Hassan. As one might expect, the sitting governor would be the top most coveted endorsements, especially after an impressive reelection victory last month.


6. Rep. Ann Kuster. After her impressive reelection victory in November, her star has risen even further in state Democratic politics. She was an original supporter and co-chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007-2008.


7. John Lynch. The former four-term governor has stayed out of the endorsement game since leaving office, and it would be surprising if he got involved in the upcoming campaign. But if he did, he would of course be a major catch for Clinton, or whomever were to win his favor.


8. Mike Vlacich. The former campaign manager for Jeanne Shaheen’s reelection campaign, Vlacich is credited with keeping the Shaheen “machine” on track in all phases of its operation, from messaging to grassroots organizing, fending off the Republican tide in other states.


9. Liz Purdy. A senior advisor in the recently victorious Shaheen reelection campaign, Purdy managed John Lynch’s first run for governor and remained as a senior political advisor to Lynch through 2008. She also was a key player on Shaheen’s first Senate campaign and was an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign in 2007 and 2008.


10. Kari Thurman. Most recently the finance director of Shaheen’s reelection campaign, Thurman also headed finance operations for Reps. Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter.


11. Teri Norelli. The former Speaker of the House remains an important player in New Hampshire Democratic politics and is most likely to have a key role in Clinton’s campaign.


12. State Sen. Donna Soucy. The state Senator from Manchester is also finance director of the NHDP and a former chief of staff to the state Senate. She has been an alderman in Manchester, where hers is a household name.


13. and 14. Executive Councilors Chris Pappas and Colin Van Ostern are considered two of the brightest rising stars in state Democratic politics, and would well be on the ballot in 2016 for positions other than Executive Council. At the moment, Pappas is viewed a possible congressional candidate, while Van Ostern may run for governor. Time will tell, but both would be important catches for a presidential candidate.


15. State Sen. Jeff Woodburn. No one will ever replace the late Executive Councilor Ray Burton as the political face of the northern part of the Granite State, but Woodburn, now the state Senate Democratic Leader, is probably now the “go-to” politician for the North Country. The Dalton resident is a former chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and a former longtime aide to former U.S. Rep. Dick Swett.


16. Jim Demers. A managing partner of Purple Strategies – New England, Demers is founder of the Demers and Blaisdell lobbying firm in Concord and has a 30-year history in New Hampshire politics. He is most well-known as THE original supporter of Barack Obama in New Hampshire but he also was a congressional candidate himself and the top advisor to former U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt in his 1988 New Hampshire presidential primary campaign.


17. State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro. Just elected to his ninth term in the Senate, D’Allesandro is not only an iconic figure in Democratic politics, but in New Hampshire politics as a whole, having earned bipartisan respect.


18. State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark. The five-term state Senator from Portsmouth is also first vice chair of the NHDP and a member of the Democratic National Committee.


19. State Sen. Molly Kelly. The five-term state Senator is one of the most influential political figures from the western portion of the state.


20.  Sylvia Larsen. The Concord resident is a former Senate President and Senate Democratic Leader. She served 20 years at the State House, and on the national political scene, is among Hillary Clinton’s closest allies in the state.


21. State Sen. Bette Lasky. Just elected to her third term in the Senate, Lasky is a former New Hampshire House member and a key Nashua Democrat.


22 and 23. Dick and Katrina Swett will almost certainly be staunchly in the Clinton corner should she run. In 1990, he became the first Democrat since 1912 to be elected to the House from the state’s 2nd District. He was later appointed Ambassador to Denmark in Bill Clinton’s administration. She is a former congressional candidate but is better known nationally as a leading human rights activist, heading the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, named after her late father, U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos.


24. Paul Hodes. Now a member of Bill Shaheen’s law firm, Hodes is a former two-term congressman, who lost to Kelly Ayotte in the 2010 midterm election for the U.S. Senate. He was a key supporter of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential primary.


25. to 31. Key organized labor leaders of New Hampshire: Mark MacKenzie, president of the AFL-CIO; David Lang, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, former state Sen. Rick Trombly, executive director of NEA-New Hampshire; Joe Casey, New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council president; David Laughton, secretary-treasurer of the New Hampshire Teamsters; Rich Gulla and Diane Lacey, president and past president to the SEIU Local 1984, State Employees Association.


32. Jennifer Frizzell is the senior policy adviser and the most visible spokesman in New Hampshire for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.


33. and 34. Larry Drake and Joan Jacobs. Drake is both Rockingham County and Portsmouth City Democratic Chairman, while Jacobs serves on both committees. Both were early supporters of Barack Obama and of Carol Shea-Porter. They are also major donors to the party.


35. Manchester Alderman Garth Corriveau is another rising star of the NHDP was a member of the 21012 Obama campaign steering committee and in 2011 was named the 2011 Edward M. Kennedy Young Elected Official of the Year by the New Hampshire Young Democrats.


36. Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli has been a long time Clinton supporter and, despite retiring from the council after serving four terms, remains an important Democratic endorsement from Nashua.


37. State Sen. Dan Feltes. The first term senator succeeded Larsen in Concord-based District 15, a solid Democratic seat. He is former staff attorney at New Hampshire Legal Assistance.


38. Ned Helms is another patriarchal figure of the NHDP, whose political roots date back to the Gov. Hugh Gallen administration, when he served as Commissioner of Health and Human Services. In the 2008 campaign, Helms was a co-chair of Barack Obama’s New Hampshire campaign.


39. State Sen. David Watters recently won his second in the state Senate and is a former chair of the Strafford County Democratic Committee.


40. Former state Sen. Peter Burling is not only a former state senator, but he is also a former Democratic Leader of the New Hampshire House. He also recetntly stepped down as Democratic National Committeeman, succeeded by Bill Shaheen.


41. State Sen. David Pierce recently won his second term and is a strong progressive voice on social and election law issues.


42. and 43. Dana Hilliard and Paul Grenier are the mayors of Somersworth and Berlin, respectively.


44. Gene Martin is a Plymouth State University alumnus, current director of the Senate Democratic Caucus PAC and former director of the Committee to Elect House Democrats.


45. Dorothy Solomon is a veteran activist and Carroll County Commissioner.


46. and 47. Two influential Manchester attorneys and political figures, Maureen Raiche Manning is a former New Hampshire House member who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate this year, while Donald Manning is the former chief of staff to former House Speaker Terie Norelli.


48. Bev Hollingworth is a former state Senate President who is perhaps best known for presiding over the trial that acquitted former state Supreme Court Chief Justice David Brock of impeachment charges brought by the New Hampshire House.


49 and 50. Joe Keefe and Joe Grandmaison. Two former chairs of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Keefe is a former congressional candidate and Grandmaison a former candidate for governor. Keefe originally backed former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd in the 2008 presidential primary cycle before moving to Barack Obama. Grandmaison has been a longtime friends of the Clintons.


51. Jo Ann Fenton is a key donor and leading organizer from the Keene area.


52. State Rep. Travis Bennett, at 22, is the youngest member of the New Hampshire House and a student at Plymouth State University.


53. Theo Groh is president of New Hampshire Young Democrats.


54. Jackie Cilley is a former state senator and 2012 candidate for governor.


55. Katherine Rogers is a veteran state representative and former Merrimack County Attorney.


56 and 57. Gary and Lenore Patten. Veteran Seacoast activists, Gary is a former Democratic chair in Hampwon, while Lenore was a long-time chair of the Rockingham County Democrats.


58 and 59. Don and Pam Jorgensen. Manchester area activists, Don is a former member of the Manchester Airport Authority while Pam is a former Londonderry Town Democratic Chair, and a member of the NHDP Rules Committee.


60. Rich Siegel. The former chief of staff to Govs. John Lynch and Jeanne Shaheen is now a senior advisor to the McLane GPS group.


61. Joanne Dowdell is a veteran Seacoast activist and an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee.


62. and 63. Terry Shumaker and John Broderick are original friends of former President Bill Clinton in New Hampshire, well-known for having brought him to the state in 1991 to kick off what was the new chapter of the Democratic Leadership Council. Shumaker was later named Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, while Broderick became Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Shumaker is now a senior adviser to the Ready for Hilllary PAC, and would certainly back Clinton. Broderick as dean of the UNH Law School, will stay out of any presidential primary contest.


64. Rep. Steve Shurtleff is now the Democratic Leader of the House and a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran.


65. State Sen. Andrew Hosmer of Laconia was just elected to his second term and viewed as another rising star in the Democratic Party.


66. Gary Hirshberg. The founder, chairman and former president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm continues to be a major donor and leading progressive voice in the NHDP.


Author: John DiStaso

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