Women gunning for political offices in New Hampshire had a strong showing on Tuesday night in the primary elections and — in some cases — they will be going head to head in November.
“Tuesday’s results were amazing,” New Hampshire Democratic state party chair Ray Buckley said at a party unity event Thursday. “We made history by nominating not just our female majority congressional delegation, but female majorities for Executive Council and the State Senate as well. We are certainly doing our part to break that glass ceiling.”
In all, there are 21 women running for the New Hampshire State Senate. The state Senate has 24 members and has been meeting since 1784. In three of the contests, a woman state senator is guaranteed:
- State Rep. Erin Hennessey, R-Littleton, beat incumbent David Starr, R-Franconia, in District 1 and will face State Rep. Susan Ford, D-Easton.
- Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton, will face Linda Rae Banfill, R-Concord, in District 15.
- Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, D-Portsmouth, will face Sue Polidura, R-Portsmouth, in District 21.
In the case of Rep. Hennessey, she had the unusual advantage of an endorsement from Gov. Chris Sununu in her primary challenge of an incumbent Republican.
In the Executive Council race for District 3, Democrat Mindi Messmer will square off against Republican Janet Stevens. Both women are from Rye and both have a strong interest in public health.
Messmer, who beat five-time state Rep. Patty Lovejoy, D-Stratham, with 18,467 votes compared to Lovejoy’s 9,439, said on Wednesday that people have come to realize that women are willing to fight for the health and safety of all of the state’s families and that goes beyond traditional gender roles.
Messmer is an environmental scientist who is known for blowing the whistle on a pediatric cancer cluster on the Seacoast in 2016 when one of her son’s friends was diagnosed with the disease.
As a state representative, her bills established a commission on the Seacoast cancer cluster investigation, established a commission to study long-term goals and requirements for drinking water on the Seacoast and established a commission to study environmentally triggered chronic illness.
Messmer said that now as the state faces the COVID-19 crisis, voters understand that science plays a crucial role in making important decisions as the state is fully reopened.
“We all want to go back to living our lives. We want our kids to go back to school, we want to go back to the grocery store without worrying about picking up something other than groceries at the store,” Messmer said. “I think people really want to listen to scientists, especially now with the pandemic.”
Stevens, who earned 11,444 votes in the Republican primary, beat businessman Bruce Crochetiere of Hampton Falls and former three-term state Rep. Timothy Comerford of Fremont. She was appointed by Sununu to serve on both the Seacoast Cancer Cluster Investigation Commission and the Board of Mental Health Practices.
Stevens, who owns a marketing consulting firm, has been supporting telehealth services for critical mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, fighting insurance companies who refused to cover patients seeking these remote services.
Stevens calls herself a pro-life, pro-gun conservative who promises to be a fiscal hawk when reviewing state contracts. She is also a former elite-level distance runner. Stevens told the Eagle-Tribune on Wednesday that she believes people thrive on competition.
“Competition brings out the best in people, and does in every sector,” Stevens told the newspaper. “And when I raced, I’d put my blinders on and ran.”
Incumbent Executive Councilor Republican Russell Prescott of Kingston did not run for re-election.
“Republican women are doing well in these campaigns because their message resonates with everyday folks,” said Pam Tucker, vice-chair of the New Hampshire GOP. “They want what everyone wants: Great jobs, safe communities, and opportunities for their children. They’re going to keep doing well because they will keep fighting for these everyday values.”
The general election is Nov. 3, which is less than 55 days away.