By Jackie DeFusco 11/30/16
New Hampshire’s newly elected Sen. Maggie Hassan vows to work work across party lines in Washington, D.C. to fulfill her campaign agenda. Many political experts described Hassan’s race against incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte as one of the most competitive of the election season Hassan triumphed over Ayotte with a margin of just 743 votes, about a 0.1% difference.
The Granite State, known for its fierce independence, saw both Hassan and Ayotte campaign on a bipartisan platform. Hassan often emphasized her ability to compromise. This is a skill that many say will prove vital for the Democratic minority, faced with a Republican-controlled Congress, President-Elect Donald Trump and his impending Supreme Court nomination.
Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Republican who served with Hassan on the state Senate, denounced her claims of bipartisanship in a recent Boston Globe article: “Time and again she would try to upend the process and block out the other party. She relished the partisan fight.”
Hassan referred to Trump’s campaign as “dangerous, racist and sexist” on multiple occasions during her Senate run. Yet following her victory, Hassan says she will reach out to both parties to identify shared goals and common ground. “This election exposed divisions in our nation. But in a season that focused on our differences, we also saw glimpses of how much we share,” she said in a statement.
The heroin epidemic was a priority for many New Hampshire voters this election season, regardless of party affiliation. One quarter of New Hampshire adults believe that drug abuse is the number one problem facing the state, according to a WMUR Granite State Poll.
Hassan cites the reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program as a successful bipartisan effort in her home state. The program expands Medicaid for substance use disorder and behavioral health services. In the Senate, Hassan hopes to increase annual federal funding to the states to be used towards similar substance abuse initiatives.
Hassan’s position on the Syrian refugee crisis represents concerns on both sides of the political spectrum as well. Both Republicans and Democrats have denounced Trump’s Muslim travel ban as extreme solution for the U.S.. Hassan hinted at this position in an op ed following the Paris attacks when she said, “As we work to protect our country and our allies, we cannot lose sight of the inclusive values of our founders or of our commitment to addressing humanitarian crisis.”
Hassan also was the only Democratic governor to call for a temporary ban on Syrian refugees in the U.S, joining 29 Republican governors on the stance. “I thought it was appropriate for the administration to take a temporary pause and really do the kind of audit you need to address the concerns raised by the CIA and the FBI,” Hassan said in her last debate with Ayotte, “That’s something I still think we should do and I’m disappointed that they didn’t.”
Senate Democrats, in the wake of Trump’s victory, have also voiced a willingness to work with Republicans on tax reform. Hassan boasted her ability to work across party lines on matters of the economy over the course of her campaign, during her campaign citing New Hampshire’s top-rated “business friendly” environment and the state’s low unemployment rate as evidence of her effectiveness. Her “fiscally responsible,” bipartisan budgets “protected critical economic priorities while holding the line against an income or sales tax,” according to her website.
Hassan wants to use her position in the Senate to cut taxes for small businesses and reduce business regulations that burden new businesses, two positions endorsed by Trump throughout his campaign. She also plans to encourage innovation in our rapidly changing economy.
In line with the left, Hassan has advocated for a minimum wage increase to 12 dollars and has emphasized affordable education as a priority. With Hassan’s gubernatorial leadership, state tuition in New Hampshire froze for the first time in 25 years and community college tuition decreased.