Rep. Paul Hodes (D)
Elected: 2006, 2nd term.
Born: March 21, 1951, New York, NY .
Education: Dartmouth Col., A.B. 1972, Boston Col., J.D. 1978.
Family: Married (Peggo Horstmann Hodes); 3 children.
Professional Career: NH asst. atty. gen., 1979-82; NH special prosecutor, 1982-83; Practicing atty., 1983-2006; Musician and founder, Peggosus, 1985-present.
The congressman from the 2nd District is Paul Hodes, a Democrat elected in 2006. He grew up in New York City, the grandson of Russian and Hungarian Jewish immigrants. His younger brother died of Hodgkin’s disease in his childhood. While studying at Dartmouth, his father’s alma mater, Hodes became disillusioned by the Vietnam War. After college, Hodes worked as an actor, playwright, musician (he began playing guitar at 15), and documentary filmmaker. Then he decided to accept his grandmother’s advice to have a fallback plan and got a law degree from Boston College. Hodes was hired by then-New Hampshire Attorney General David Souter as a state prosecutor, and then went into private practice in Concord, eventually becoming a partner in the firm of Shaheen and Gordon. (William Shaheen, the lead partner, is the husband of Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.) Still, Hodes refused to give up on entertaining. He and his wife, Peggo, founded Peggosus, a children’s rock group whose repertoire includes the songs “If My School Was a Zoo” and “Cheerios in My Kazoo.” President Bill Clinton invited the duo to perform at the White House in 1996.
|Paul Hodes (D)||188,332||(56%)||($2,021,750)|
|Jennifer Horn (R)||138,222||(41%)||($552,317)|
|Chester Lapointe (Lib)||7,121||(2%)|
|Paul Hodes (D)||22,638||(99%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (53%)
Hodes first ran for Congress in 2004, when he challenged Republican Rep. Charles Bass and lost, 58%-38%. But Hodes tried again in 2006, when the political environment was far more hostile to Republicans. This time he had more support from the national party and raised much more money, outspending Bass $1.6 million to $1.2 million. Bass claimed he was an “independent voice for New Hampshire” in an attempt to distance himself from the unpopular Republican congressional leadership and the Bush administration. His claim was not entirely unfounded. Earlier that year, Bass helped launch the petition for new House Republican leadership elections that prompted scandal-plagued Majority Leader Tom DeLay to give up plans to try to retake his post. Bass also cast maverick votes against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and against the same-sex marriage ban. Hodes nevertheless continually tied Bass to President Bush and the Iraq war, calling for a “new course for this country.” The liberal MoveOn.org also ran a television ad suggesting Bass had voted for wasteful Iraq reconstruction funds, including payments to Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former firm. As the incumbent’s lead in the polls started to fade in October, both national parties took an interest in the race and began pouring money in. Hodes won 53%-46%.
In the House, Hodes established a voting record toward the center of the Democratic Caucus. He was elected president of the Democratic freshman class, and got a seat on the Financial Services Committee. He sponsored a bill to create the Northern Border Regional Development Commission to invest federal money in economic development and job creation in the Northeast. In 2008, he was successful in passing “Michelle’s Law,” which is designed to ensure that college students who take a medically necessary leave of absence do not lose their health insurance coverage. His legislation, based on a New Hampshire statute, was named after Michelle Morse, a cancer patient in Manchester who was diagnosed in 2003 and was forced to stay in school to keep her medical coverage.
In 2008, Republicans nominated Jennifer Horn, a radio talk-show host who competed in a five-candidate primary as a conservative and a political outsider. In the general election campaign, Horn called for tax cuts and opening more areas to oil drilling, and expressed support for the war in Iraq. She criticized Hodes for his support of liberal Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Hodes emphasized his constituent service and won 56%-41%. He ran most strongly in the Connecticut River counties, and trailed only in the Salem area.
After Republican Sen. Judd Gregg said in February 2009 that he would not seek re-election, Hodes announced his candidacy for the Senate. Bass and Horn were among the potential Republican candidates for the House seat.