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Politico’s NH woman to watch in 2014 is not who you think

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Politico has released its list of women to watch in 2014 and it includes one New Hampshire politician.

And it’s not who you think - Kelly Ayotte.

It’s Maggie Hassan, the first-term Democratic governor.

“There’s already speculation that Hassan could mount a challenge to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) in 2016, and a resounding victory in November will only intensify that chatter,” Politico said in its story, “The XX factor: Women to watch in 2014.”

“Hassan, who in 2012 helped give New Hampshire a set of all-female leaders in Washington and Concord, will be an in-demand surrogate for Democratic presidential hopefuls with an eye on the first-in-the-nation primary state.”Ayotte, the state’s Republican first-term U.S. senator, has received a lot of national attention and exposure, starting with word in 2012 that she was among the names considered by presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s pick for vice president.

The chatter hasn’t really stopped with Ayotte on a long list of candidates that the politicos believe would be a viable Republican candidate for president in 2016.

But this time around the spotlight is on Hassan, who faces re-election this year and, thus far, has no Republican challenger for another two-year term.

Hassan is in the company of Republican and Democratic women from across the country, including Mia Love, described by Politico as “the congressional candidate who brought down the house at the Republican National Convention...”

The list also includes Wendy Davis, who Politico described as the “Texas state senator grabbed the national spotlight over the summer when she filibustered a restrictive abortion bill, energizing Democrats aiming to turn the Lone Star State blue down the road.”

As far as the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary, Politico tagged Hassan as “touring the Granite State with Hillary Clinton — a possible 2016 contender and another woman to watch this year — could only help raise Hassan’s profile.”

Maybe.

While there is a strong tie between Clinton and Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, that tie is a secondary one for Hassan. Her primary ties are to Joe Biden, so we’ll first have to see whether the vice president decides to enter the 2016 presidential primary race to see where Hassan’s allegiances ultimately fall.

In the meantime, Hassan’s poll numbers show voters hold her in pretty high regard.

An October WMUR Granite State Poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center had Hassan with a 57 percent approval rating among state voters.

According to the poll: “Democrats (74%), liberals (72%), people who oppose the Tea Party (74%), and NHPR listeners (72%) are most likely to say they approve of the job Hassan is doing as governor. Tea Party supporters (22%) and Republicans (36%) are least likely to approve of the governor.”

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