Maggie Hassan

Maggie Hassan
Maggie Hassan, official portrait, 115th Congress.jpg
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Serving with Jeanne Shaheen
Preceded by Kelly Ayotte
81st Governor of New Hampshire
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 2, 2017
Preceded by John Lynch
Succeeded by Chuck Morse (acting)
Majority Leader of the
New Hampshire Senate
In office
January 3, 2008 – December 1, 2010
Preceded by Joseph Foster
Succeeded by Jeb Bradley
Member of the New Hampshire Senate
from the 23rd district
In office
December 1, 2004 – December 1, 2010
Preceded by Russell Prescott
Succeeded by Russell Prescott
Personal details
Margaret Coldwell Wood [1]

(1958-02-27) February 27, 1958 (age 62)[2]
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Thomas Hassan
Children 2
Parents Robert Coldwell Wood
Margaret Byers
Relatives Frances P. Wood (sister)
Frank Wood (brother)
Education Brown University (BA)
Northeastern University (JD)
Website Senate website

Margaret Coldwell Hassan (/ˈhæsən/; née Wood; February 27, 1958) is an American politician and attorney serving as the junior United States Senator from New Hampshire. A Democrat, Hassan was elected to the Senate in the 2016 election while she was serving as the 81st Governor of New Hampshire, an office she held from 2013 to 2017.[3]

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Hassan is a graduate of Brown University and earned a J.D. from the Northeastern University School of Law. After graduating from law school in 1985, Hassan worked at the law firm Palmer and Dodge. She later worked as associate general counsel for Brigham and Women’s Hospital.[4]

Hassan first ran for the New Hampshire Senate in 2002 after Democratic Party leaders recruited her.[5][6] She lost to incumbent Senator Russell Prescott but ran against Prescott again in 2004 and won.[7][8] Hassan was elected to a total of three two-year terms, representing New Hampshire's 23rd district from January 2005 to December 2010. Hassan became the Majority Leader in the State Senate in 2008 before losing re-election in a 2010 rematch with Prescott.[9]

Hassan declared her candidacy for governor in October 2011. Hassan defeated former State Senator Jacalyn Cilley in the Democratic primary and faced attorney and Republican nominee Ovide M. Lamontagne in the general election. Hassan won with 55 percent of the vote, becoming the state's second female governor. Hassan won re-election in 2014. Since becoming Governor of New Hampshire, Hassan was elected Vice Chair of the Democratic Governors Association and served as a superdelegate at the Democratic National Convention.[6]

In 2016, Hassan ran for the U.S. Senate and narrowly defeated Kelly Ayotte, the Republican incumbent, by approximately a thousand votes (about 0.1 percent of the vote).[10][11] She is serving with Jeanne Shaheen, another former governor; New Hampshire's Senate delegation shares this distinction with that of Virginia (composed of former governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine). Hassan and Shaheen are the only two women in American history to be elected as both a governor and a U.S. senator.[12]

Early life and education

Hassan was born Margaret Wood in Boston, Massachusetts,[13] the daughter of Margaret (Byers) and Robert Coldwell Wood, a political scientist who served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Lyndon Johnson administration. She has two siblings, including Tony award-winning actor Frank Wood.[14][15][16]

Wood grew up in Lincoln, Massachusetts.[16] As a child she sang in school choirs and at church.[16] Her parents were politically active, and young Maggie collated mailers for the League of Women Voters.[16] Wood attended Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Sudbury, Massachusetts, and graduated with the Class of 1976. Wood earned her B.A. degree from Brown University in 1980. While there, Wood met her future husband, Thomas Hassan, also a student at the university.[5] She received a J.D. degree from the Northeastern University School of Law in 1985.[17][18]

Early career

From 1985 to 1999, Hassan worked as an attorney.[17] From 1985 to 1992,[citation needed] Hassan worked at the Boston law firm, Palmer and Dodge.[19] From 1993 to 1996, Hassan was Associate General Counsel for Brigham and Women's Hospital/Partners Healthcare of Boston.[20]

In 1996, Hassan began working as an attorney for Sullivan, Weinstein and McQuay, a Boston corporate defense and business law firm.[21] In 1999, Hassan was appointed by then-New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen as a citizen advisor to the Advisory Committee to the Adequacy in Education and Finance Commission.[17]

New Hampshire Senate


Hassan in April 2007

Hassan first ran for the New Hampshire Senate in 2002 after Democratic Party leaders suggested she run.[5] She lost to incumbent Senator Russell Prescott 54% to 46%.[7] In 2004, she ran against Prescott again and won 52% to 48%.[22] In 2006, she won re-election against Natalie Healy 60% to 40%.[8] In 2008, she defeated Lee Quandt 57% to 43%.[23] She served as the assistant Democratic whip, president pro tempore, and majority leader of the State Senate during her six years in office. She represented New Hampshire's 23rd district, which includes the towns of East Kingston, Exeter, Kensington, Kingston, Newfields, Newmarket, Newton, Seabrook, South Hampton and Stratham.

In November 2010, Hassan was defeated by Prescott in a second rematch, 53% to 47%,[24] as Republicans regained control of both the state House and state Senate.[25]


Hassan served on the Capital Budget Committee and the Budget Conference Committee.[26] Hassan helped pass the FY2008-FY2009 budget.[27]

In 2008, Senate President Sylvia Larsen chose Hassan to serve as Senate Majority Leader, the number two position in the New Hampshire Senate. Larsen chose Hassan for the position because she wanted someone who would fight to get the democratic caucus to support the same agenda, at times creating friction between Hassan and her Republican colleagues.[28]

During her tenure as majority leader, Hassan had a major role in legalizing same-sex marriage in New Hampshire.[28] Hassan presented three versions of a same-sex marriage bill, one of which narrowly gained enough support to pass both chambers.[28]

Hassan helped pass the FY2010-FY2011 budget.[29] This budget increased spending by over a billion dollars and contained thirty-three tax and fee increases, including taxing campsites like hotel rooms, a so-called "income tax" on New Hampshire business, and raising vehicle registration fees.[30][31][32]

Committee assignments

  • Capital Budget Committee
  • Commerce, Labor and Consumer Protection
  • Finance
  • Public and Municipal Affairs (Chair)
  • Energy, Environment, and Economic Development (Vice Chair)
  • Internal Affairs Committee
  • Executive Department and Administration Committee

Governor of New Hampshire


A Maggie Hassan election sign.

In October 2011, Hassan announced her candidacy for governor of New Hampshire.[33] She won the Democratic primary with 53%, defeating former state senator Jacalyn Cilley, who received 39%.[34]

Hassan was also endorsed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton[35][9] Campaign themes included implementing the Affordable Care Act.[36]

In the general election, Hassan defeated Republican nominee Ovide M. Lamontagne by 55% to 43%, carrying every county in the state.[37] Her campaign was managed by Matt Burgess and senior consultants included media consultant Joe Slade White.[38]

Independent expenditure groups spent more than $11 million on Hassan's behalf. Major financial support for Hassan's election came from the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Governor's Association, the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the National Education Association.[39]

In June 2014, Hassan filed to run for re-election.[40] She defeated Ian Freeman in the Democratic primary election on September 9, 2014, going on to defeat Republican Walt Havenstein in the general election by a margin of 52% to 48%. Hassan carried 7 of 10 counties.[41]

In August 2014, New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster, a Hassan appointee, ordered her to return $24,000 in campaign contributions that violated New Hampshire campaign finance laws.[42] In October 2014, Hassan was ordered to return another $25,000 in funds a union donated to her gubernatorial campaign because the union had not properly registered with the state as a political committee.[43]


Hassan was sworn in as Governor for a two-year term on January 3, 2013. In December 2013, she was elected as vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association.[44] That year, Hassan signed a bill creating a state sea level rise commission.[45][46]

During a conflict between two sides of the Demoulas family, which owns the Market Basket grocery chain, Hassan urged the family to resolve the dispute, which threatened 9,000 jobs in New Hampshire.[47]

In July 2015, Hassan vetoed a bill that would have removed the licensing requirement for carrying concealed firearms in the state.[48] In response to New Hampshire's opioid crisis, she appointed Jack Wozmak as the state's "drug czar" in early 2015. He resigned one year later in response to complaints about his job performance.[49][50] Hassan also worked to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the state.[51]

She resigned as governor at the end of January 2, 2017 to prepare for her swearing into the U.S. Senate. Senate president Chuck Morse assumed the gubernatorial powers and duties as acting governor.[52]

U.S. Senate

Hassan campaigning at a Hillary Clinton rally in Manchester, New Hampshire in October 2016.

On October 5, 2015, Hassan announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2016. She challenged incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte.[53] The race was considered one of the most competitive U.S. Senate races of that year.[54]

Hassan was endorsed by the pro-choice Democratic political action committee EMILY's List, which also backed her two gubernatorial runs.[55] Hassan endorsed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.[56] Hassan has said climate change and reproductive rights would be her top priorities if she were elected to the Senate.[57]

On November 9, 2016, the afternoon following Election Day, Hassan was declared the winner.[58] Ayotte conceded later that evening, choosing not to pursue a recount.[58]

On April 15, 2020, the Trump administration invited Hassan to join a bipartisan task force on the reopening of the economy amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[59]

Committee assignments



On the evening of June 19, 2018, a congressional intern was caught on video yelling, “Mr. President, fuck you!”, as President Trump walked through the United States Capitol for a meeting with Republican congressmen.[61] On June 25, Hassan's office confirmed that a Hassan intern, Caitlin Marriott, was the person caught on video swearing at the President. A Hassan spokesperson confirmed that Marriott had been suspended from her position for one week and was required to return her congressional intern ID badge.[62] Hassan refused demands that she terminate Marriott.[63]

In 2019, former Hassan staffers Jackson Cosko and Samantha Davis pleaded guilty to federal crimes. Cosko pleaded guilty to five felonies; following his termination from Hassan's staff, he illegally accessed Senate computers, obtained personal information about five Republican senators, and disseminated that personal information online because he was angry about the senators' roles in the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. In June 2019, Cosko was sentenced to four years in prison.[64] Davis pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in July 2019, acknowledging that she had given Cosko access to Hassan's Senate office after he was fired and that she had lied to investigators about it.[65]

Political positions


Hassan has a "D" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) due to her rare support for pro-gun legislation.[66] She also supports a background check system to avoid gun sales to the mentally ill.[67] She was supported by Gabrielle Giffords and Michael Bloomberg in the 2016 election.[68]

In March 2018, Hassan was one of ten senators to sign a letter to Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Lamar Alexander and ranking Democrat Patty Murray requesting they schedule a hearing on the causes and remedies of mass shootings in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.[69]


In July 2019, Hassan cosponsored the Fallen Journalists Memorial Act, a bill introduced by Ben Cardin and Rob Portman that would create a new memorial that would be privately funded and constructed on federal lands within Washington, D.C. in order to honor journalists, photographers, and broadcasters that have died in the line of duty.[70]


As governor, Hassan signed legislation that legalized medical marijuana but opposed efforts to legalize recreational possession.[71] As of 2020, NORML, an organization that seeks legalization, gave Hassan a C- score as a U.S. senator due to her actions as governor.[72]

Personal life

Hassan's husband, Thomas, was principal of Phillips Exeter Academy from 2008 to 2015, and as of 2016 is the president of School Year Abroad.[73] When he was principal, the Hassans did not live in the Governor's Mansion, instead living in a colonial mansion on the school campus provided to them as part of her husband's employment.[5] After he left his position at Phillips Exeter Academy, the Hassans bought and moved into a home in Newfields, New Hampshire.[a][5][74]

Hassan has two adult children, the older of whom, Ben, has cerebral palsy.[13] She is a member of the United Church of Christ.[75]

She has received honorary doctorates from the University of New Hampshire (2013),[76] Northeastern University (2013),[77] Southern New Hampshire University (2014),[78] New Hampshire Institute of Art (2015),[79] New England College (2016),[80] and UNH School of Law (2017).[81]

Electoral history

New Hampshire State Senate election in the 23rd district, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Russell Prescott (Incumbent) 10,659 54.04
Democratic Maggie Hassan 9,067 45.96
Total votes 19,726 100.00
New Hampshire State Senate election in the 23rd district, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maggie Hassan 15,201 51.96
Republican Russell Prescott (Incumbent) 14,054 48.04
Total votes 29,255 100.00
New Hampshire State Senate election in the 23rd district, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maggie Hassan 10,566 60.12
Republican Natalie Healy 7,008 39.88
Total votes 17,574 100.00
New Hampshire State Senate election in the 23rd district, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maggie Hassan 17,212 57.20
Republican Lee Quandt 12,877 42.80
Total votes 30,089 100.00
New Hampshire State Senate election in the 23rd district, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Russell Prescott 11,001 53.38
Democratic Maggie Hassan (inc.) 9,606 46.62
Total votes 20,607 100.00
Democratic primary results [82]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Maggie Hassan 45,120 53.1
Democratic Jackie Cilley 33,066 38.9
Democratic Bill Kennedy 5,936 7.0
Democratic Other 850 1.0
Total votes 84,972 100
New Hampshire gubernatorial election, 2012 [83]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Maggie Hassan 378,934 54.61% +1.98%
Republican Ovide Lamontagne 295,026 42.52% -2.51%
Libertarian John J. Babiarz 19,251 2.77% +0.56%
n/a Write-ins 666 0.10% -0.02%
Total votes '693,877' '100.0%' N/A
Democratic hold
New Hampshire gubernatorial election, 2014 [84]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Maggie Hassan (incumbent) 254,666 52.38% -2.23%
Republican Walt Havenstein 230,610 47.43% +4.91%
n/a Write-ins 907 0.19% +0.09%
Total votes '486,183' '100.0%' N/A
Democratic hold
United States Senate election in New Hampshire, 2016 [85]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Maggie Hassan 354,649 47.99% +11.25%
Republican Kelly Ayotte (incumbent) 353,632 47.84% -12.32%
Independent Aaron Day 17,742 2.40% N/A
Libertarian Brian Chabot 12,597 1.70% +0.65%
n/a Write-ins 520 0.07% N/A
Total votes '739,140' '100.0%' N/A
Democratic gain from Republican

See also