NH1 News Debates


Apr 8, 2015 6:35 AM

NH1-on-1: Gov. Maggie Hassan's political career is a family affair


EXETER - It is dinner time at the Hassan house. On the menu? Takeout food.

The family of four piles into their Exeter kitchen. Hassan is joined at the table by her husband, daughter and son.

With the governor months into her second term in office, she admits this scene does not play out on a daily basis.

"I tend to come home and go, 'Dinner?'," said Hassan. "He's like, 'I had mine!'"

A quick look at the family's refrigerator helps explain why. Pictures of Hassan with well-known politicians cover it, including Hillary Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Secretary of State John Kerry.

The display makes it clear the governor has been on the go, and the real reason she entered into public service happens to be a special one.

"I don't think I would have run for office if I hadn't been Ben's mother," said Hassan of her only son.

Twenty-six years ago, Hassan and her husband, Tom, welcomed Ben into the world. He was born with severe disabilities.

"We moved here when Ben was one, and the full nature of his disability was becoming clear, and it was clear to us that we were going to need a lot of help," said Hassan. "There were a lot people who stepped forward to do that."

Ben has cerebral palsy, which has confined him to a wheelchair and left him unable to speak.

Raising him, raised Hassan's interest in public service.

"I ended up advocating a lot locally, and then at the State House, and that led to my first run for state Senate," said Hassan. "He's certainly been a big part of it, but I'm lucky to have a family, too, that has urged me to try to articulate what we think Ben would want to articulate about the importance of inclusion."

"I can just remember the time that Maggie called me and said, 'I have about 12 hours to decide whether to run for Senate or not," said Hassan's husband, Tom. "Then she came up with all the reasons why it would be really hard and I said to her, 'You'd be great at it.'"

Now, she is the third woman to ever be governor of New Hampshire.

Hassan will not say whether she plans to run for office again in the future.

"I stay focused on what I'm trying to accomplish right now. The most important thing is the budget. Budgets are how we establish priorities."

When asked what people do not know about her mom, Hassan's daughter, Meg, weighed in quickly.

"I think her willingness and ability to swim in truly cold water is a great one. She's the first one into the ocean, and she's always sort of encouraging the rest of people to get into the water even when it is May and it is cold."

Something that might explain a lot.


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