Maureen Mooney is one of four Republicans vying for the nomination in District 11. This is an open seat, most recently held by Sen. Peter Bragdon (R-Milford).
Maureen Mooney showed me an envelope during our interview. “I happen to be on my way to mail my New Hampshire Right to Life personhood affirmation.” She pointed out the design on the stamp. “I purposely put an Equality stamp on the envelope, because I’m working for equality for our unborn.”
No shock there. Maureen used to be one of my state representatives, elected in 2002 and serving three terms. I know she voted pro-life. Since her terms in office, she’s been an active volunteer in the New Hampshire Republican party, and she currently co-chairs U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown’s Women for Brown coalition. Now, she’d like to return to Concord, this time to the Senate. She has entered one of the state’s most competitive primaries. So what sets her apart from a crowded field?
Why she’s running
“I decided to run in June. When I heard that the seat had opened up, I spent an entire month talking with people throughout district 11 for their feedback on my being a candidate, the views of this district, and whether or not I could represent them. I wanted to really see if it was a good fit and if my candidacy was needed and I came to the conclusion Yes.” She added that her decision’s been reaffirmed by the people who agreed to be on her steering committee. It’s a broad-based group, and she adds “I’m very proud of that.”
She mentioned her opponents by name only to speak respectfully of them. Of Gary Daniels, for example: “He should be very proud of his record because it’s outstanding.” Nevertheless, she yields to no one. She noted that unlike two of her opponents, she has never lost a Senate race. “I feel I bring a fresh perspective to the conservative cause. And that’s very important. In addition to that, I’ll be a full-time senator. I do not hold local office, and so I can be fully committed to all the commitments that the job entails. I look forward to that.”
Maureen spoke about supporting Sen. Peter Bragdon before his retirement from the State House. “I backed him very strongly because I knew he’d be an effective advocate. And that’s what I can emulate. I want to say this too: Peter Bragdon, towards the end of his legislative career, found himself in a position to have to excuse himself [from some votes] because of his job [as executive director of HealthTrust]. I won’t have that problem. I don’t anticipate any conflicts of interest.”
She’s confident her experience will pay dividends for her district. “I served with almost half [of the incumbent Senators] when I was in the House. They were colleagues of mine. I have the familiarity with who’s up there now and the ability to advocate for the principles that this district stands for.”
“I’m pro-life,” she reminded me. “Always have been. Always will be. I put that right up on my web site.”
She was a first-term representative when New Hampshire’s first parental notification law was passed, and she voted in favor of it. When a partial-birth abortion ban failed in 2004, she was on the pro-life side. Same year, there was a failed effort to prevent public funds, employees and facilities from being used for abortion; again, Mooney voted pro-life. Ditto for a 2005 informed consent bill and another one in 2007 and a slew of life-issue bills in 2008.
She was glad to see a parental notification law finally get enacted after her House terms. What would she do as a Senator if a repeal effort came up? “I would build [a coalition against repeal] by pointing to the success other states have had with that law. The success that New Hampshire’s had with the law. The fact that there are so many that support it. Again we’d get into – and this came up when I was up there in the initial debate – how many things out there require parental notification. I’ll never forget a representative standing up during the debate, holding up a paper for a coloring contest that some organization was sponsoring, saying that parental notification was required for a minor to enter the contest. These types of things are very important to rally support.”
She calls the New Hampshire buffer zone law “terrible. It’s a freedom of speech issue on public property. People who have been affected by this buffer zone are peaceful advocates. I know that some advocates pray and silently make their statement. So there’s no threat.” She called the bill an “overreaction” by abortion providers. “What are they afraid of? It’s an attempt to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s part of a very strong pro-choice agenda.”
How about accusations that the GOP is waging war on women? “To me, that is real clever Democratic slogan. It’s catchy, and liberals take an incredible amount of pride in being able to throw it around. But what does it really mean? I’m not quite sure. Here I am, a Republican woman, pro-life, running for the state Senate. I don’t see a war on women at all. They’re trying to label issues as women-specific. I see a lot of issues applying to everybody. For example, getting jobs into the state. That’s not a gender-specific issue. Getting tuitions to be lower, that’s another issue. So I think it’s an attempt to label certain issues as gender-specific, and I’m looking for the greater good for society as a whole.”
Getting to know her district
Maureen Mooney has lived in Merrimack for more than twenty years. District 11 includes not only Merrimack, but Milford, Wilton, and Amherst as well. That’s a lot of new ground for her. How’s she doing? “I’ve been going door-to-door, making phone calls into the district. I’ve been going to events. I’m meeting activists and meeting people who aren’t necessarily involved in politics but who vote. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very enjoyable.”
She knows that Senate races can be expensive. “You have to have the ability to raise funds, which so far I’ve been very successful in doing, and that’s very important not only for the primary but for the general.” She expects Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and the Democratic party to pour money into state Senate races. “Unless you’ve run for state Senate, you wouldn’t know just what a dramatic difference it is from running for state representative. Geography-wise, money-wise, and making contact.”
What are she looking forward to doing that she hasn’t done before? “Getting out there and meeting more and more people, really. Hearing peoples’ stories is something I always look forward to on the campaign trail. It’s the only way to know what the public is thinking. You spend too much time with Republican activists, you become insular, and it’s not always about that. It’s about getting what the voter feels.”
Her web site: www.votemooney.com