Jeanne Shaheen

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Democrat Jeanne Shaheen was elected in 1996 as the first female governor of New Hampshire. Born in Missouri in 1947, Shaheen taught high school in Mississippi and then in New Hampshire, where she was active in the Jimmy Carter campaigns in 1976 and 1980.

Shaheen cemented her reputation as a smart, capable politician in 1984, when she managed Gary Hart's successful primary campaign in the Granite State. She became a candidate herself in 1990, winning three terms in the State Senate. In 1996, she defeated conservative state Board of Education Chairman Ovide Lamontagne by 57 to 40 percent.

Shaheen's first term was centered around a crisis in education funding. In the Claremont decision, the State Supreme Court ruled that New Hampshire's method of funding public schools almost entirely through local property taxes violated the state constitution, giving Shaheen and the GOP-controlled legislature the task of finding a new, constitutional way to fund education. In spite of the funding issue, Shaheen trounced Republican businessman Jay Lucas to win a second term, gaining support from a third of GOP voters and winning more than twice the votes of her challenger.

In 2000, Shaheen was one of the names on Al Gore's shortlist of potential vice presidential nominees.

Shaheen's bid for a third term was a much more uphill battle. The state had still not found a comprehensive solution to school funding, and because of that Shaheen boldly refused to take the Pledge against enacting an income or sales tax. (No candidate who refused to take the Pledge had ever been elected.) Moreover, she faced a primary challenge from pro-income tax State Senator Mark Fernald and a tough general election opponent in former U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey. Shaheen won 49 percent to Humphrey's 44 percent.

In 2002 Shaheen declined to run for a fourth term and turned her focus toward the U.S. Senate race, hoping to run against controversial incumbent Bob Smith. Smith lost his primary to Congressman John E. Sununu, however, who both capitalized on voters' frustration with the statewide property tax and linked Shaheen to gubernatorial candidate Mark Fernald, who had pledged to enact an income tax if elected. Despite a letter-perfect campaign, Shaheen fell short on Election Night.

After finishing her term in January 2003, Shaheen lectured on politics for several universities. She became John Kerry's campaign manager later that year and helped turn around his faltering primary effort.

Shaheen is running for U.S. Senate in 2008.

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