CONCORD, NH - Neither candidate for U.S. Senate deviated from his or her routine on the first official day of the general election campaign. Republican Sen. Judd Gregg announced the millions of federal dollars he'll soon send home; Democrat Doris "Granny D" Haddock went for a walk.
Haddock, the 4-foot-11 94-year-old who once walked cross-country to promote campaign finance reform, strode into downtown Concord around lunchtime and shared her plan to oust the two-time incumbent. Supporters twirled ribbons, shook signs and played music to attract attention. By the time Haddock spoke, the crowd was about 35 people strong.
"My realization that I no longer had a representative in this republic, at least in the U.S. Senate, came as a hard lesson to me a few years ago, and my teacher was Judd Gregg," she said. "Money talked, and I walked. I walked against the fundamental corruption of the system. I am still walking against it."
Haddock became the Democratic candidate in June after state Sen. Burt Cohen dropped out and two other would-be replacements were disqualified. Gregg trounced two challengers in Tuesday's Republican primary, and he remained in Washington, debating bills on the Senate floor. Haddock continued on her campaign walk.
GO GRANNY GO
Democratic Senate candidate Doris 'Granny D' Haddock, 94, waves to cars on Fort Eddy Road yesterday. "Every wave is a vote," Haddock said. (Concord Monitor photo/Jason Arthurs)
Her shoulders are rounded with age, but Haddock's steps are crisp. It takes her about 22 minutes to walk a mile, and she moseys through 30 of them during an average week of campaigning. Her trans-New Hampshire trek began early last month in Portsmouth. Since then, she has walked about 200 miles, visiting Nashua, Barrington, Manchester and Merrimack. She crossed Concord's southern city limits on Sunday, then took two days off to drive to polling locations.
She sleeps just four or five hours a night and fuels herself with bowls of chocolate ice cream and dreams of unseating Gregg. She said her biggest issue with the incumbent is that he accepts money from corporations and lobbying groups. Haddock pledged to take only small donations from individual supporters.
Yesterday morning, she started in on the mile that would take her to the State House. Purple clouds of fog still hung over the Merrimack River (a decade ago, Haddock remarked, she might have stopped for a swim). A volunteer carried a "Toot for D"sign, and Haddock waved at tow trucks, commuters and other walkers.
Meanwhile, her son, Jim Haddock, erected signs in front of the State House while volunteers roamed Main Street corralling voters. Around noon, a trombone-tuba-accordion ensemble called Tattoo belted out a song about Granny D's cross-country odyssey. Half the crowd knew all the words; the other half looked bewildered that this tiny woman in the turkey-feather hat had her own soundtrack.
The crowd clapped and hollered when Haddock began to speak.
"As campaigns became more expensive, it became more tempting for candidates to appeal to special interest contributions from major industries, rather than to raise the money they need from real people, twenty dollars at a time," she said. "If we win, it will mean that the people can be self-governing again. . . . All of these rapacious forces that have taken over our lives and brought our representative out from under us, they can be the ones to take a walk, and we can say good riddance to bad rubbish."
She invited Gregg to play a game of Scrabble or co-host a picnic to foster bipartisan cooperation. Gregg, through his campaign, declined both offers. A few hours after Haddock swung through Concord, Gregg announced $11.5 million worth of environmental grants he'd scored for New Hampshire. Because of his seniority in the Senate, Gregg has become an effective conduit for money into the state.
Yesterday's speech wasn't much different from those Haddock gave while championing campaign reform, but her staff hopes stops like these will get Haddock's message to a new audience, especially Republicans and unregistered voters.
"Democrats get us elected,"said Jim Haddock. "But we're preaching to the choir."
After her speech, Haddock looped through downtown, trailed by a few dozen supporters, including a few who had to jog to keep up.
© 2004 The Concord Monitor