US Campaign Finance Activist Granny D Dies at 100
PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire - Doris "Granny D" Haddock - the woman known for walking across the country at age 89 to raise awareness of the need for campaign finance reform - died on Tuesday at age 100.
Politicians across the Granite State are mourning the loss of a Laconia native known for her compassion and a tenacity that was the subject of a HBO documentary titled: "Run Granny Run".
Portsmouth Rep. Jim Splaine was close to the Dublin resident and confirmed that she passed away sometime Tuesday afternoon.
He said news of her death came from her longtime aide and companion.
Splaine described her death as nothing short of "terrible," but said she remains a shining example of a person who cared about her country and wasn't afraid to do something about it.
When asked what he will remember about her Splaine responded: "Compassion."
"In the last 15 years of her life she had been leading a charge for campaign finance report because she would say it is the best way to protect our democracy...to get big money out of politics," Splaine said.
The woman who legally changed her name to "Granny D" was slated to travel to Portsmouth on March 21 for a panel discussion at the public library as part of a Citizen Funded Election Task Force that Splaine said she helped create.
Splaine is on the 12-member panel created by the New Hampshire Legislature as a means of looking at how the state might initiate a "voluntary" citizen funded campaign mechanism that would not require candidates to turn to political action committees for campaign funding.
The Portsmouth representative said Granny D had been attending the panel's meetings in anticipation that they would issue a report back to the Legislature.
Splaine said members of the panel would often tell Granny D she needed to live another 10 years to support campaign finance reform efforts.
"She always had a glimmer in her eye and would say 'God willing,'" Splaine said.
Granny D was born in Laconia in 1910 and celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 24 with a "huge party" at the Statehouse on Jan. 28, according to Splaine.
Splaine said she appeared in good health when he last saw her in January, but noted she had been struggling with breathing problems.
The longtime Democrat is known for a grassroots campaign that saw her winning the Democratic primary and running against Judd Gregg in the 2004 election for U.S Senate.
Her run for office at age 94 ended in defeat, but was the subject of a HBO documentary titled: "Run Granny Run."
Splaine said Granny D would have been the oldest U.S. Senator ever to hold office had she won.
A grannyd.com website dedicated to her life indicates she also gained national attention for a 1999 walk across America that saw her traveling 3,200 miles to demonstrate her concern about the need for campaign finance reform - an issue she worked on and was passionate about until her death.
Splaine recalled her arrival in Washington D.C. at the end of the pilgrimage when she was greeted by upward of 2,000 supporters including numerous members of Congress.
U.S. Representative Paul Hodes described Granny D as "eloquent, funny, powerful and one of a kind."
"She was an indeterminable advocate for real reform, a gutsy voice for those who had lost theirs and a constant reminder to all of us of the very best in New Hampshire and in our political process. New Hampshire lost a hero tonight, and while Granny D will be truly missed, she will never be forgotten. The world is a better place for her having walked among us, with us and for us," Hodes said in a statement.
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley issued a statement noting that Granny D always stood for Granite State values.
"Her commitment to fair and open democracy should inspire us all to work even harder for reform. She will sorely be missed and always remain in our hearts," Buckley said.
And praise for Granny D isn't just coming from Democratic leaders.
Former New Hampshire Governor John H. Sununu described the woman as an "unwavering advocate for her beliefs" whose efforts inspired state residents to participate in the political process.
"Granny D was an activist in the New Hampshire tradition and our state will certainly be diminished by her passing," Sununu said.
Republican candidate for governor John Stephen issued a statement saying he would remember Granny D for her energy.
"She was committed to making the nation better for future generations, and the enthusiasm she brought to everything she did should energize us all to action," Stephen said.
Splaine said the Citizen Funded Election Task Force will undoubtedly continue to work toward the goals she helped establish.
"She was an incredible woman. I think we are going to figure out a way to make her cause work," Splaine said.
Staff Reporter Adam Krauss contributed to this report.