Four unbelievable stories from Election 2006 in the Granite State
1) NH becomes single party...DEM!: House, Senate, Executive Council (most powerful branch unique to NH govt.), Governor (Guv getting an historic 75% of the vote)
2) NH 2nd Congressional District send a Jew to Congress (Paul Hodes)
3) DFNH Fair Elections Committee initiates election night parallel manual counts for machine count towns
4) But this is the most amazing story about one of DFNH's own - an amazing victory:
Underfunded, ignored by national Democrats, Shea-Porter pulls upset
By BEVERLEY WANG
Associated Press Writer
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- With no money or backing from national Democrats and her Republican opponent widening his lead in the final days of the campaign, Carol Shea-Porter roared to a stunning victory Tuesday in the 1st District, becoming the first woman from New Hampshire elected to Congress.
Shea-Porter, 53, relied on a network of volunteers and a strong anti-Iraq message to unseat two-term incumbent Jeb Bradley, 51 percent to 49 percent.
"As I said all along, we need to work together. We're in crisis right now, but a crisis is also an opportunity and when the boat is leaking, you don't point fingers, you just start bailing," said Shea-Porter, who thanked Bradley for his service. "I'm going to Washington and doing exactly what I promised. I'll speak up for the rest of us."
Shea-Porter, of Rochester, won her election with $204,000; Bradley raised more than $1 million, according to federal campaign reports. She won her election without help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which waded into the campaign early on to publicly anoint a better-known and better-funded primary candidate. And she won it without the $1.1 million in advertising money the DCCC spent on Paul Hodes, who defeated six-term incumbent Charles Bass in the 2nd District.
The divide between Shea-Porter's dark-horse campaign and the Democratic establishment was apparent when campaign co-chair Bill Shaheen, husband of former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and 2004 New Hampshire campaign chairman for John Kerry, scanned the room at her victory party in Portsmouth and saw mostly strangers.
"These people supporting Carol Shea-Porter - I'd say 80 percent of them I don't know - and I've been in politics for most of my life," said Shaheen, who joined the campaign after backing Shea-Porter's unsuccessful rival in the primary.
"These are the people of New Hampshire. I mean she had no money. She had people believe in her," he said.
Throughout her campaign, Shea-Porter never wavered from her conviction that her army of volunteers - and her promises to push for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and stand up for the middle class - would help deliver a victory.
Voters like Republican Betsy Nolan, 46, of Derry, who went against their party to vote for Shea-Porter, were listening.
"I like that she's against the war and wants to do some thing about it. I think we went in there for the wrong reasons," she said.
For Shea-Porter, perhaps the only surprise was the way she got the news. Having missed Bradley's concession call, she learned of her victory when she spotted him on television. "Is he conceding?" she asked, clasping a hand to her chest.
Wayne Semprini, chairman of the state Republican Party, said Shea-Porter was swept along by a national "tsunami" of public dissatisfaction with the Bush administration on issues like the Iraq war.
Bradley, 54, echoed the sentiment in his speech.
"We got caught in a perfect storm. ... Change is coming in the wind, and the pendulum will swing one way, and then it will swing back the other way," Bradley said.
He hinted that he may run for office again, but in the meantime, said he would be keeping a close eye on Shea-Porter.
"There will be those of us, myself included that will be watching her closely," he said. "But that's for another day."
Bradley, of Wolfeboro, spent 12 years in the Legislature before winning the open congressional seat in 2002.
Shea-Porter, chairwoman of the Rochester Democrats, worked for former NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark in New Hampshire's 2004 presidential primary. She has been a community college lecturer, senior center director and housing advocate for the elderly. After Hurricane Katrina, she volunteered in Louisiana serving meals and working at a shelter.