If the voters of New Hampshire approve, “Granny D” would like very much to become “Senator D.”
The 94-year-old activist, who won national attention and acclaim from the likes of US Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold when she walked 3,200 miles across the United States to promote campaign finance reform in 1999 and 2000, is preparing to take another unprecedented journey–on the campaign trail.
Doris “Granny D” Haddock will formally announce Thursday that she is challenging Republican US Senator Judd Gregg, who is seeking a third term representing New Hampshire. And her “down home” campaign could well turn out to be one of the most provocative and inspired candidacies this country has seen in years. She is already assured of the Democratic nomination, and calls are coming in from young activists who want to trek to New Hampshire to help the nation’s oldest political newcomer.
“We’re moving things around in the house to make it a headquarters,” Granny D. said from her Dublin, New Hampshire, home. “And we’re setting things up in the yard so that the young people who want to work on the campaign can pitch tents.”
Needless to say, Granny D.’s candidacy will not resemble the cookie-cutter campaigns run by most senatorial contenders. While senate candidates usually spend years preparing to make their races, Granny D. decided to run only last week, after the expected Democratic candidate against Gregg, state Senator Burt Cohen, folded his campaign. Cohen has been mounting a feisty, if uphill, challenge to Gregg, but his prospects were doomed when reports began to surface that his campaign manager had gone missing, along with what was left of his campaign fund. There was no suggestion that Cohen had done anything wrong, but the controversy promised to make a continued candidacy impossible. So Cohen called fellow Democrats last Thursday and said he was dropping out.
With less than twenty-four hours to go before the filing deadline to fill the party’s line on the ballot, New Hampshire Democrats were scrambling. They needed a new candidate against Gregg. That’s when Granny D., who was born in 1910 in the New Hampshire community of Laconia, stepped in. So far, she’s gotten enthusiastic support from top Democrats like state party chair Kathy Sullivan, who says, “I think she has the capacity to bring people into the election who otherwise feel disenfranchised.”