Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2010, term expires 2016, 1st term.

Born: June 27, 1968, Nashua, NH

Home: Nashua, NH

Education: PA St. U., B.A. 1990; Villanova U., J.D. 1993.

Professional Career: Law clerk, 1993-94; practicing atty., 1994-98; prosecutor, NH Atty. Gen. Office, 1998-2003; legal cnsl., Gov. Craig Benson, R-N.H., 2003; NH dep. atty. gen., 2003-04; NH atty. gen., 2004-09.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married (Joseph Daley) , 2 children

Republican Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire’s junior senator, was elected in 2010 to replace retiring Republican Sen. Judd Gregg. She is the GOP’s top elected official in the state with the nation’s first presidential primary, giving her political prominence beyond her years of service.

Ayotte (AY-aht) grew up in Nashua, N.H., and studied political science at Pennsylvania State University. She was active in her sorority, Delta Gamma, and skied competitively. She earned a law degree from Villanova University, where she was the editor of the Environmental Law Journal. One of her first jobs was a clerkship for state Supreme Court Justice Sherman Horton. In an early legal case, Ayotte was the court-appointed counsel for defendants in a highly publicized murder of two guards in an armored-car robbery in 1994. The experience gave her a taste of trial work, and she sought a job as a prosecutor with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. She eventually rose to become head of the homicide division. She recalls that her most challenging case was securing the convictions of two Vermont teenagers in the 2001 murders of Dartmouth College professors Half and Susanne Zantop.

She is married to Joseph Daley, of Nashua, a fighter pilot who flew combat missions in Iraq and later opened a landscape design and snow removal business. “I’m proud of the fact that in addition to being a United States senator, I’m also pretty good with a snow plow,” she joked in August 2012.

In 2002, newly elected Republican Gov. Craig Benson interviewed her about being his legal counsel; she said she also wanted to be his attorney general. “I liked her aggressiveness,” Benson later told The Boston Globe, and in 2004, he named Ayotte New Hampshire’s first female attorney general. In one of her most celebrated cases, she defended the state against numerous court challenges of a law requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortions. In 2005, newly elected Democratic Gov. John Lynch asked her to drop the case and file a brief opposing the law. Ayotte opted instead to defend the law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court ruled unanimously that states may require parental notification as long as an exception is allowed for medical emergencies. The state, however, repealed the law in 2007.

Despite Ayotte’s differences with the Democratic governor over abortion rights, he nominated her for a second term as attorney general in 2009. Four months later, she resigned to make her first bid for elected office in the Senate race to succeed Gregg.

In a crowded primary field, Ayotte campaigned as a fiscal and social conservative. But tea party activists and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a far-right conservative who injected himself into several GOP primaries that year, supported 1996 gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontagne. Ayotte also had primary competition from wealthy businessmen Bill Binnie and Jim Bender. But she got a boost from tea party favorite Sarah Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska, who called her “one tough Granite Grizzly.” Lamontagne enjoyed a late surge in the race, but Ayotte beat him, just barely, 38% to 37%, a margin of 1,660 votes out of 139,000 cast.

Meanwhile, Paul Hodes, the U.S. House member from New Hampshire’s 2nd District, had the Democratic field pretty much to himself, allowing him to spend his resources getting acquainted with potential general election voters. In his first television ad, he accused Ayotte of failing to investigate a mortgage Ponzi scheme by a firm called Financial Resources Mortgage that cost New Hampshire investors $80 million. Ayotte countered with ads that portrayed her as a tough prosecutor and highlighted her decision to seek the death penalty for a man who killed a police officer. She also hammered Hodes for his support of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and said she would vote to repeal it.

In the end, Hodes didn’t even keep it close. Ayotte won with 60% of the vote to 37% for the Democrat. She carried all 10 counties in the state, and beat Hodes by nearly 2-to-1 in the most populous county of Hillsborough, where Manchester is located. The retiring Gregg, who endorsed Ayotte in the contest, told The Telegraph, “Ninety percent of the fight is people liking you and agreeing with your philosophy, and she nailed that from the beginning.”

Ayotte has been dependably conservative, particularly on economic issues. She was named in January 2013 as counsel to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a job once held by Gregg that gives her a seat at the leadership table. She introduced a bill that month to block planned pay raises for members of Congress and other top-level government officials. Earlier, she voted in favor of Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt’s controversial plan in March 2012 to allow employers to opt out of contraception coverage on religious grounds. On the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, she has been outspoken in fighting proposals to impose online sales taxes.

Ayotte’s greatest visibility has been on national security matters as a member of the Armed Services Committee. In a sign of her growing influence, Ayotte was included in a December 2012 meeting between U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both of whom had joined Ayotte in expressing concerns about the possibility of Rice becoming secretary of State because of her handling of the response to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The three senators’ concerns led Obama to instead nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. She also joined McCain and Graham in 2013 in attacking former Nebraska GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel’s fitness to become Defense secretary.

With McCain, Ayotte cosponsored a bill in October 2011 aimed at controlling costs in major defense acquisition programs, and she later added a provision to the fiscal 2013 defense bill calling for a full audit of the Pentagon by September 2014. Drawing on her experience as a former prosecutor, she fought efforts by the Obama administration to try terrorism suspects in civilian courts. She and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. argued in a Washington Post op-ed in July 2011 that suspected terrorists should be kept at U.S. detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “When an enemy combatant is captured, the primary focus should be intelligence-gathering, not criminal prosecution,” they wrote.

As a Senate Budget Committee member, Ayotte advocated for a constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to balance the budget each year. During the standoff over raising the nation’s debt limit, Ayotte held out for deeper cuts in government spending. When Obama and the Republican leadership finally reached a compromise in August 2011, she was one of 19 Senate Republicans who voted against the deal and the only member of the New Hampshire delegation to oppose it. A New Hampshire Union Leader editorial criticized Ayotte for “holding out for a perfect option that didn’t exist.” Ayotte has supported some environmental regulation. She joined four other GOP senators in June 2012 in siding with Democrats to defeat a proposal that would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from setting the first federal standards to reduce toxic air pollution from power plants.

Given New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status, Ayotte was courted by GOP presidential candidates in 2012. She endorsed Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner and former governor of neighboring Massachusetts. Within a few weeks, Romney cited her as one of 15 Republicans who could end up as his or someone else’s running mate. “That was a surprise,” she told the New Hampshire Union Leader. Though she didn’t get the nod—her regional proximity to Romney probably worked against her—she was an energetic surrogate as his campaign sought to reach out to suburban women voters.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-3324

(202) 224-4952

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 144
Washington, DC 20510-2907

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-3324

(202) 224-4952

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 144
Washington, DC 20510-2907

DISTRICT OFFICE

(603) 622-7979

(603) 622-0422

1200 Elm Street Suite 2
Manchester, NH 03101-2503

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-3324

(202) 224-4952

1200 Elm Street Suite 2
Manchester, NH 03101-2503

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-3324

(202) 224-4952

144 Main Street
Nashua, NH 03060

DISTRICT OFFICE

(603) 880-3335

144 Main Street
Nashua, NH 03060

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-3324

(202) 224-4952

14 Manchester Square Suite 140
Portsmouth, NH 03801

DISTRICT OFFICE

(603) 436-7161

14 Manchester Square Suite 140
Portsmouth, NH 03801

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-3324

(202) 224-4952

19 Pleasant Street Suite 13B
Berlin, NH 03870

DISTRICT OFFICE

(603) 752-7702

(603) 752-7704

19 Pleasant Street Suite 13B
Berlin, NH 03870

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

4 Tuckerwood Court
Nashua, NH 03064

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 224-3324

(202) 224-4952

4 Tuckerwood Court
Nashua, NH 03064

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Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Acquisitions

Adam Hechavarria
Legislative Director

Aerospace

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Kelsey Keegan
Legislative Assistant

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Animal Rights

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Appropriations

Adam Hechavarria
Legislative Director

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Arts

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Daniel Auger
Legislative Assistant

Banking

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Budget

Adam Hechavarria
Legislative Director

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Campaign

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Communication

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Consumers

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Crime

Stephen Monier
Special Assistant for Veterans, Law Enforcement, and First Responders

Disaster

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

Economics

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Education

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Daniel Auger
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Kelsey Keegan
Legislative Assistant

John Chambers
Legislative Correspondent

Environment

Kelsey Keegan
Legislative Assistant

John Chambers
Legislative Correspondent

Family

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Daniel Auger
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Ryan Clark
Legislative Correspondent

Govt Ops

Kelsey Keegan
Legislative Assistant

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

John Chambers
Legislative Correspondent

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Gun Issues

Samantha Roberts
Legislative Assistant

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Health

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Daniel Auger
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Brad Bowman
National Security Advisor

Samantha Roberts
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Human Rights

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Immigration

Samantha Roberts
Legislative Assistant

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Intelligence

Brad Bowman
National Security Advisor

Judiciary

Samantha Roberts
Legislative Assistant

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Bud Fitch
State Director (Acting); Legal Counsel

Labor

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Medicare

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Daniel Auger
Legislative Assistant

Military

Brad Bowman
National Security Advisor

Ryan Clark
Legislative Correspondent

Minorities

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

National Security

Brad Bowman
National Security Advisor

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Native Americans

Kelsey Keegan
Legislative Assistant

Samantha Roberts
Legislative Assistant

Public Works

Kelsey Keegan
Legislative Assistant

Rules

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

Rural Affairs

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

Science

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

Seniors

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Small Business

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Erica Andeweg
Legislative Aide

Transportation

John Chambers
Legislative Correspondent

Veterans

Marne Marotta
Legislative Assistant

Myles Matteson
Legislative Assistant

Ryan Clark
Legislative Correspondent

Stephen Monier
Special Assistant for Veterans, Law Enforcement, and First Responders

Welfare

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Daniel Auger
Legislative Assistant

Women

Shaylyn Kelly
Director of Administration

Daniel Auger
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2010 GENERAL
Kelly Ayotte
Votes: 273,218
Percent: 60.03%
Paul Hodes
Votes: 167,545
Percent: 36.81%
2010 PRIMARY
Kelly Ayotte
Votes: 53,056
Percent: 38.21%
Ovide Lamontagne
Votes: 51,397
Percent: 37.01%
Bill Binnie
Votes: 19,508
Percent: 14.05%
Jim Bender
Votes: 12,611
Percent: 9.08%

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