2008 Firsts for Women from WowOwow

jeanne shaheen
Jim Cole/AP

Jeanne Shaheen, First Woman Elected to the US Senate From NH

January 28, 2010
by Isabel Cowles
Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire’s first female governor, became the state’s first female senator in November of 2008, beating Republican incumbent John Sununu by 7 percent.

Service to New Hampshire

Jeanne Shaheen’s victory over Senator Sununu, who beat her in the New Hampshire Senate race of 2002, is only one of many political successes. She is a woman of firsts, though her accomplishments extend far beyond her election as New Hampshire’s first female governor in 1996, or as the state’s first female senator in 2008.

According to Shaheen’s campaign Web site, the senator-elect was born to parents who never graduated from college, but who instilled in her a sense of hard work and commitment to public service.

The real triumphs of Shaheen’s life and career can be measured by her many years of public service. Her service to New Hampshire began when she worked as a public school teacher from 1969 to 1971. She chaired the city of Madbury’s zoning board and co-chaired the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Women. Shaheen also cofounded the Somersworth International Children’s Festival, located in Somersworth, N.H.

Political Beginnings

Shaheen’s political career got its start when she served as campaign manager for the successful Carter/Mondale presidential campaign during the 1980 New Hampshire primary. Shaheen also served as campaign manager for Gary Hart in the 1984 New Hampshire Primary and for Paul McEachon, who ran for governor of New Hampshire in 1986 and 1988.

Shaheen’s own political leadership began when she was elected to the New Hampshire state Senate. She served from 1990 to 1996 before she was elected the state’s first female governor.

After her first term as governor, Shaheen won re-election twice; in 1998 and in 2000. Although Sununu defeated her in the 2002 senatorial bid, Shaheen continued to champion her preferred causes. From 2000 to 2001, she chaired the Education Commission of the States, focusing primarily on early childhood education. From 2005 to 2007, she served as director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School.

Shaheen Wins U.S. Senatorial Seat

Shaheen stepped down from the IOP in 2007 to begin campaigning for the 2008 senatorial race against Sununu. She received wide support from the feminist organization Emily’s List for her focus on education, health care and reproductive rights. Shaheen won a decisive victory, defeating Sununu 52 percent to 45 percent.

On The Issues outlines Shaheen’s policies on virtually every topic, including the economy, environment, gun control, Social Security, tax reform and foreign policy.

Jeanne Shaheen lives with her husband, Bill, in Madbury, New Hampshire. They have three daughters, six grandchildren and a dog named Camelot.

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