Manchester, NH - Speeches by Governor Maggie Hassan, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and U.S. Representatives Carol Shea-Porter and Anne McLane Kuster of the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts -- the fabled "Women of New Hampshire" -- were the highlight of the 2014 New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention. The convention, which was held at Manchester's Memorial High School, drew hundreds of delegates and guests.
Hassan, Shaheen, Shea-Porter and Kuster represent the first time in history where not only is a state's entire Congressional delegation comprised of women, itself a first, but the governor's office also is occupied by a woman. In addition, the Speaker of the New Hampshire House, Terie Norelli, is a woman, as is the Minority Leader of the State Senate, Democrat Sylvia Larsen.
Both Norelli and Larsen, who are retiring, were signaled out for praise by many of the speakers.
Governor Hassan kicked off the speeches by the Women of New Hampshire.
Hassan talked about the work Democrats did to repair the damage caused by Republicans, who won veto-proof majorities in both the State House of Representatives and State Senate in 2010 and enacted a radical agenda. In 2012, these radical Republicans lost the House and saw their majority in the Senate reduced to two in a stunning electoral turnaround. Hassan reminded the assembled Democrats there was still much to do.
"We'll stop them as long as we remain committed to the core principle that unites us as Democrats and as Granite Staters," she said. "We believe simply this -- that everybody counts."
The mother of a disabled child, Hassan had spoken earlier of how she had sent off the Granite State's contingent of disabled athletes to the Special Olympics. Inclusion is extremely important to her.
"My fellow Democrats," she declared, "we can't turn back now. Let's keep New Hampshire moving in the right direction."
It was the second speaker, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who gave perhaps the most firey speech. Shaheen was introduced by her daughter Stefany, a Portsmouth City Councilor who served as co-chair of the convention.
At the climax of the Senator's speech, she beseeched the assembled delegates and guests for their help, for herself and the other Women of New Hampshire and for everyone up and down the Democratic ticket. She then referenced the stunning upset in Virginia, which saw House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lose his seat to an upstart who spent on his campaign approximately what Cantor's campaign spent just on eating out at steakhouses.
"We saw in Virginia an interesting thing," Shaheen said. "I wasn't sure what to think about the outcome, but one of the things I liked was the Tea Party candidate's comments election night when he said, 'Money doesn't vote, people vote'."
To the applause of the crowd, Shaheen said, "It's up to us" to go out and talk to friends and families, neighbors and professional colleagues, to knock on doors and make calls to tell voters what's at stake in the 2014 election.
"This is about what's at stake for New Hampshire and the country," Shaheen said. "We want to put New Hampshire first. We want to do everything we can to elect people who are going put New Hampshire first."
New Hampshire First is the Team Shaheen 2014 campaign slogan.
"And if we do that," she continued, "working together, Democrats will win in November. And when we win, New Hampshire families will win."
Inclusion was also the theme of Carol Shea-Porter's speech, who said that Democrats had to continue the fight to preserve America's middle class. "Our agenda includes everybody," she declared.
Annie Kuster told the delegates that partisan gridlock in Washington was far worse than she imagined. She lashed out against the Tea Party, saying, "We can build on the progress that we're making...or we can allow the Tea Party to continue their 'just say no' approach."