Jeanne Shaheen

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
Assumed office
January 3, 2009
Serving with Kelly Ayotte, Maggie Hassan (Elect)
Preceded by John Sununu
78th Governor of New Hampshire
In office
January 9, 1997  January 9, 2003
Preceded by Steve Merrill
Succeeded by Craig Benson
Member of the New Hampshire Senate
from the 21st district
In office
December 2, 1992  December 4, 1996
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Katie Wheeler
Personal details
Born Cynthia Jeanne Bowers
(1947-01-28) January 28, 1947
St. Charles, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Bill Shaheen
Children 3
Alma mater Shippensburg University
University of Mississippi
Religion Nondenominational Christianity
Website Senate website

Cynthia Jeanne Shaheen (née Bowers; January 28, 1947) is an American politician and the senior United States senator from New Hampshire, a position she has held since 2009. Shaheen, a member of the Democratic Party, is the first female U.S. senator in New Hampshire's history, was the first woman to be elected governor of New Hampshire and she is the first woman to be elected as both a U.S. governor and a U.S. senator.[1]

After serving two terms in the New Hampshire Senate, Shaheen was elected governor in 1996. She was re-elected in 1998 and 2000. Instead of seeking a fourth term as governor, she opted to run for the United States Senate in 2002, losing to Republican John E. Sununu. She then served as director of the Harvard Institute of Politics, before resigning to run for the U.S. Senate again in the 2008 election, defeating Sununu in a rematch. Shaheen became the first Democratic senator from New Hampshire since John A. Durkin, who was defeated in 1980. In 2014, Shaheen became only the second Democrat from New Hampshire to be re-elected to the U.S. Senate, and the first since Thomas J. McIntyre in 1972.

Early life, education, and pre-political career

Jeanne Shaheen was born Cynthia Jeanne Bowers in Saint Charles, Missouri, the daughter of Belle E. and Ivan E. Bowers.[2] She is the wife of Lebanese-American attorney and political operative Bill Shaheen. They have three children. She graduated from high school in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, and earned a bachelor's degree in English from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in political science from the University of Mississippi.[3] She taught high school in Mississippi[4] and moved to New Hampshire in 1973, where she taught school and, with her husband Bill Shaheen, owned a store that sold used jewelry.[5]

Early political career

A Democrat, she worked on several campaigns, including Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign, and as the New Hampshire campaign manager for Gary Hart in 1984,[6] before running for office in 1990, when she was elected to the state Senate. In 1996, 1998 and 2000 she was elected governor of New Hampshire.[7]

In April 2005, Shaheen was named director of Harvard's Institute of Politics,[8] succeeding former U.S. Representative and Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman.

Governor of New Hampshire

Shaheen's decision to run for New Hampshire governor followed the retirement of Republican Governor Steve Merrill. Her opponent in 1996 was Ovide M. Lamontagne, then chairman of the State Board of Education. Shaheen presented herself as a moderate. According to a PBS profile, she focused on education funding issues, and pledged to expand kindergarten. She defeated Lamontagne by 57 to 40 percent.[9]

In 1996, Shaheen was the first woman to be elected governor of New Hampshire.[10] (She was not, however, the first woman to serve as New Hampshire's governor; Vesta M. Roy was acting governor from December 30, 1982 until January 6, 1983.)[11]

In 1998, she was re-elected by a margin of 66 to 31 percent.[12][13]

In both 1996 and 1998, Shaheen took a no-new-taxes pledge. After a court decision preventing education from being largely supported by local taxes, “her administration devised a plan that would have increased education spending and set a statewide property tax.”[14]

Running for a third term in 2000, Shaheen refused to renew that no-new-taxes pledge, becoming the first New Hampshire governor in 38 years to win an election without making that pledge.[15] Shaheen's preferred solution to the school-funding problem was not a broad-based tax but legalized video-gambling at state racetracks—a solution repeatedly rejected by the NH legislature.[16][17]

In 2001 Shaheen tried to implement a 2.5 percent sales tax, the first broad-based tariff of its kind in history of New Hampshire. Unlike neighboring New England states New Hampshire does not have a sales tax. The state's legislature rejected her proposal.[18] She also proposed an increase in the state's cigarette tax and a 4.5 percent capital gains tax.

Presidential politics


During the 2000 Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire, Governor Shaheen expressed support for Al Gore and her husband Bill Shaheen served as Gore's New Hampshire campaign manager. According to the New York Observer, the Shaheens were critical in helping Gore win a narrow victory in the New Hampshire primary over Bill Bradley.[19][20]

Gore added Jeanne Shaheen to his short list of potential vice presidential nominees, which also included Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, then-North Carolina Senator John Edwards, then-House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.[21] Shaheen responded to speculation about being selected by stating she wasn’t interested in taking the job.[22]


After a short time teaching at Harvard University (and a fellowship in the Institute of Politics with former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift), she was named national chairperson of John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign in September 2003.

U.S. Senate



After she was elected to three two-year terms as governor, Shaheen declined to run for a fourth term, instead choosing to run for the U.S. Senate in 2002. She was defeated by Republican John E. Sununu, by a 51 percent to 47 percent margin (19,751 votes). In a recent interview with the Concord Monitor, Shaheen attributed her loss in part to "discussion about the job that [she] did as governor." At that time, early Republican advertisements slammed her support for putting a sales tax on the ballot or faulted her for failing schools.[23]

In June 2004, former Republican consultant Allen Raymond pleaded guilty to jamming Democratic Party lines set up to get New Hampshire Democrats to the polls in 2002, an action that some (most notably former Senator Bob Smith, whom Sununu had defeated in the Republican primary) believe may have contributed to Shaheen's narrow loss.[24] A judge sentenced Raymond to five months in jail in February 2005. Charles McGee, the former state GOP executive director, was sentenced to seven months for his role.

Raymond alleged that James Tobin, Northeast field director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, masterminded the plot. In December 2005, Tobin was convicted of two federal felonies arising from the phone-jamming and sentenced to ten months in prison but that conviction was reversed after Tobin's lawyers appealed. In October 2008, prosecutors filed two new felony indictments which charged that James Tobin lied to a FBI agent when he was interviewed in 2003 about his role in the phone-jamming case.[25] These subsequent charges were summarily dismissed in 2009 after the federal judge in Maine's District Court found them motivated by 'vindictive prosecution.'[26]

The race was the first time two candidates with Lebanese-American families, although Shaheen herself is not Lebanese-American, have squared off in a Senate race.[27]


In early July 2007 through UNH, CNN and WMUR put out a poll[28] regarding the New Hampshire 2008 Senate race. The poll showed that Shaheen would beat Sununu in a race (54–38). Other Democratic candidates did not have this type of lead, which led many to believe Shaheen would be the right choice to beat Sununu in 2008.

Shaheen on the campaign trail at Dartmouth College, July 2008

In April 2007, Shaheen met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-New York) about a possible US Senate run. The Senators both said that she would have strong support from the DSCC if she ran. On September 14, 2007, Shaheen announced that she intended to run for the Senate against Sununu.[29] On September 15, 2007, she formally launched her US Senate bid at her home in Madbury, New Hampshire. Six days later, on September 21, EMILY's List endorsed her campaign.

Shaheen defeated Sununu 52% to 45% (44,535 votes).


Shaheen ran for re-election to a second term in 2014, facing former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.[30]

In March 2014, Brown announced he was forming an exploratory committee to run against Shaheen. According to the Boston Herald, "Granite State Republicans are calling U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen a hypocrite for asking potential GOP challenger and former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown to keep “outside” money out of the campaign while she fills the Democratic war chest on the West Coast".[31] During the campaign, Brown criticized Shaheen for being a "rubber stamp" for President Obama and for failing to represent the best interests of New Hampshire voters.[32]

In June 2014, WMUR reported that Shaheen had never released her tax returns in her 18 years of public service in New Hampshire. Shaheen said she would not rule out releasing her returns, but would like to see her opponent do so first.[33]

She was endorsed again by Emily’s List.[34]

On election night, even as her party lost control of the Senate, Shaheen won reelection with 51 percent of the vote to Brown's 48 percent. As a measure of how Republican New Hampshire once was, Shaheen is only the second Democrat in the state's history to win two terms in the Senate.


On January 6, 2009, Shaheen was sworn into the United States Senate.

Health care

In 2009, Shaheen partnered with U.S. Senator Susan Collins to introduce the Medicare Transitional Care Act, which provides follow-up care for discharged hospital patients in order to reduce the need for re-hospitalizations.[35] The bill passed in 2010,[36] and research at the University of Pennsylvania predicts the measure will lower the cost of health care by as much as $5,000 per Medicare beneficiary while also improving health care quality and reducing re-hospitalizations.[37]

In December 2009, Shaheen voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA; commonly called ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act).[38][39]

In advance of the roll-out of the PPACA, Shaheen said that people who liked their current health care plans could keep them.[40] When asked about individuals who were losing their health care plans due to the PPACA, Shaheen said people could keep their health care plans if they were "willing to pay more."[41]

Shaheen has sponsored numerous bills relating to diabetes, including gestational diabetes, that would, among other things, improve and increase access to diabetes education, increase access to diabetes medicine, and increase funding for diabetes research.


On October 11, 2011, Shaheen voted to proceed with a proposed bill which included $446 billion in spending on infrastructure and schools and provided funding for state and local governments, as well as an extension of the payroll tax deduction. The spending would have been paid for by a 5.6 percent surtax on incomes above $1 million. The bill failed to obtain cloture.[42]

Shaheen used an earmark in a large appropriations bill to restore funding for a federal prison in Berlin, NH, despite a $276 million recommended cut.[43][44]

Gun control

On April 17, 2013, Shaheen voted for the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases.[45]


Following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Shaheen proposed abolishing the Minerals Management Service, the U.S. government agency tasked with regulating offshore drilling, arguing that reform had been insufficient and that a new agency was needed.[46] Shaheen also proposed legislation giving the President's bipartisan BP Oil Spill Commission subpoena power in their investigation.[47] She has argued that subpoena power is necessary to avoid another such disaster, emphasizing the spill's economic costs to the Gulf Coast region and the economy as a whole.[48]

On April 28, 2014, Shaheen introduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2014 (S. 2262; 113th Congress), a bill that is intended to improve efficient energy use in the United States.[49]

Iraq war

In 2002, when Shaheen narrowly lost to Sununu, both supported "regime change" for Iraq.[50]

Shaheen said that she came to supporting the policy of removing Saddam Hussein from power after meeting with former Clinton-administration National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. According to the Concord Monitor and Associated Press, the issue was a minor one in the race.

Shaheen later questioned George W. Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq. In September 2004 she said

“George (W.) Bush has taken us in the wrong direction. He misled us into war in Iraq. That war has not made us safer and more secure at home... You know, we have not stabilized Afghanistan. We have not stabilized Iraq. There is no plan to win the peace.”

On July 28, 2004, while serving as Chair of the Kerry-Edwards Campaign, Gov. Shaheen answered questions about her prior support of the Iraq war during an interview on C-SPAN.[51]

"George (W.) Bush said that the reason we needed to go to war in Iraq, the reason we needed to remove Saddam Hussein was because he had weapons of mass destruction, weapons that could be used against this country, because he had ties to al Qaeda and the terrorists who were responsible for the Sept 11 tragedy.

What we know now and what George Bush and Dick Cheney have admitted is that in fact Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.... The links to al Qaeda that the president talked about were not there.... While I appreciate that there was an effort to make people in this county think that [there was a connection]... the fact is that's not true."

LGBT rights

Shaheen initially opposed same-sex marriage as governor of New Hampshire. In 2009, however, she came out in favor of the legislative enactment of marriage for same-sex couples, and became a sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act.[52] She also voted in favor of the repeal of Don't ask, don't tell, and supports government recognition of same-sex spouses of military and other government personnel.[53]


As a Senator, Shaheen has sponsored 87 bills, including:[54]

111th Congress (2009-2010)

112th Congress (2011-2012)

113th Congress (2013-2014)

Committee assignments

Jeanne Shaheen with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and New Hampshire Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill announcing a grant that helps local farms turn commodities into value-added products.
Jeanne Shaheen with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and New Hampshire Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill announcing a grant that helps local farms turn commodities into value-added products.

Electoral history

Governor elections in New Hampshire: Results 1996-2000

Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1996 Jeanne Shaheen 284,175 57% Ovide Lamontagne 196,321 40% Fred Bramante Independent Reform 10,316 2% Robert Kingsbury Libertarian 5,974 1%
1998 Jeanne Shaheen (inc.) 210,769 66% Jay Lucas 98,473 31% Ken Blevens Libertarian 8,655 3% Write-ins Write-ins 503 <1%
2000 Jeanne Shaheen (inc.) 275,038 49% Gordon Humphrey 246,952 44% Mary Brown Independent 35,904 6% John Babiarz Libertarian 6,446 1%
U.S. Senate (Class II) elections in New Hampshire: Results 2002–2008[55]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2002 Jeanne Shaheen 207,478 46% John E. Sununu (inc.) 227,229 51% Ken Blevens Libertarian 9,835 2% Bob Smith Write-in 2,396 1% *
2008 Jeanne Shaheen 358,947 52% John E. Sununu (inc.) 314,412 45% Ken Blevens Libertarian 21,381 3%
2014 Jeanne Shaheen (inc.) 251,184 51% Scott Brown 235,347 48%

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2002, write-ins received 197 votes.


New Hampshire Governor Democratic primary election, 1996
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jeanne Shaheen 52,238 88%
Democratic Lovett 4,286 7%
Democratic Woodworth 2,609 4%
New Hampshire Governor Democratic primary election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jeanne Shaheen (inc.) 45,249 60%
Democratic Mark Fernald 28,488 38%
U.S. Senate Democratic primary election in New Hampshire, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jeanne Shaheen 43,968 89%
Democratic Raymond Stebbins 5,281 11%


  1. KATHARINE Q. SEELYE (January 1, 2013). "From Congress to Halls of State, in New Hampshire, Women Rule". New York Times.
  3. "10 Things You Didn't Know About Jeanne Shaheen". US News. November 8, 2008. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  4. McCord, Michael (June 14, 2013). "Q&A with attorney/political activist Billy Shaheen". New Hampshire Business Review. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  5. Eric Levenson - "Sen. Shaheen Campaign Rips ‘Defamatory’ Attempt to Link Her to 34-Year-Old Felony", Boston Globe, September 20, 2014. Retrieved 2015-10-29
  6. Lyman, Rick (January 25, 2004). "Power Broker Navigates The Currents Of Her State". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  7. "Jeanne Shaheen (D)". Washington Post. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  8. Bhayani, Paras (September 14, 2007). "Shaheen Resigns from Institute of Politics". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  9. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen at the Wayback Machine (archived February 28, 2003). Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  10. Brand, Anna (August 12, 2014). "'30 in 30': Women candidates to watch in 2014 – Jeanne Shaheen". MSNBC. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  11. "Vesta Roy, 76, New Hampshire Ex-Governor". New York Times. February 22, 2002. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  12. Shaheen survives heated Humphrey challenge. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  13. "THE 1998 ELECTIONS: THE STATES -- RESULTS; The Races for Governor". New York Times. November 5, 1998. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  14. The 'Live Free or Die' State in a Tough Spot on Taxes. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  15. Corwin, Emily (October 10, 2012). "A History Of The Pledge". National Public Radio. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  16. Shaheen, N.H. lawmakers still face school issue. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  17. Love, Norma (May 4, 2000). "New Hampshire House refuses to take up gambling bill". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  18. Jeanne Shaheen "Jeanne Shaheen" Check |url= value (help). New Hampshire Public Radio. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
  19. Dem. & GOP Primaries: New Hampshire. Retrieved April 16, 2008. Archived April 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. Kornacki, Steve. "Shaheen Brings Up Obama's Drug Use, Didn't Care Much About Gore's". New York Observer. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  21. Gore, Lieberman prepare for public debut of Democratic ticket at the Wayback Machine (archived August 13, 2007). Retrieved April 16, 2008. Archived February 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. Cullen, Fergus (May 1, 2012). "Ayotte for Veep? Ask Vice President Shaheen". New Hampshire Journal. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  23. DORGAN, LAUREN R. (July 2, 2008). "Shaheen turns incumbent tables". Concord Monitor Online. Archived from the original on September 9, 2014.
  24. Phone-jamming was an outrage at the Wayback Machine (archived June 30, 2006). Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  25. "New indictments filed in phone-jamming case". Archived from the original on September 9, 2014. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  26. Harrison, Judy (February 18, 2009). "District judge clears Tobin". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  27. Arab-American showdown for Senate seat at the Wayback Machine (archived January 17, 2009). Retrieved November 1, 2008.
  28. Shaheen Beats Sununu In Latest Poll. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  29. Shaheen to run for Senate. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  30. "Shaheen defeats Brown in N.H.". The Boston Globe. November 5, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  31. McGovern, Bob (March 16, 2014). "Scott Brown calls out Jeanne Shaheen". Boston Herald. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  32. Howerton, Jason. "When Asked 'Yes or No' Obama Question, Dem Senate Candidate Provides an Answer That Leaves Audience Laughing" (October 21, 2014). The Blaze.
  33. Pindell, James (June 6, 2014). "U.S. Senate candidates reluctant to share tax records with voters". WMUR. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  34. Falcone, Michael (April 5, 2013). "Scott Brown: Laugh Line Or 'Serious' Threat To Jeanne Shaheen In New Hampshire?". ABC News. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  35. "Dover NH, Rochester NH, Portsmouth NH, Laconia NH, Sanford ME". February 19, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  36. Holly Ramer. "Transitional care part of overhaul". Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  37. Reichard, John (June 17, 2009). "Bill Aims to Ease Transition From Hospital to Home". CQ Politics. Archived from the original on June 23, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  38. John DiStaso (June 5, 2013). "Conservative HG group airs first TV ad of '14 US Senate election". New Hampshire Union Leader. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  39. Rubin, Jennifer (January 15, 2014). "Why Jeanne Shaheen should be nervous". Washington Post. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  40. Miller, Joseph (March 18, 2014). "Scott Brown, Jeanne Shaheen go on offense in N.H. Senate race". Boston Globe. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  41. Hynes, Patrick (February 3, 2014). "Shaheen: "Pay more' to keep your doc,' won't say if she'd vote for O-Care again". New Hampshire Journal. Archived from the original on February 4, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  42. Napp Nazworth (October 11, 2011). "Obama's Jobs Bill Fails to Pass in Senate". Christian Post. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  43. Buckland, Tim (November 1, 2011). "Berlin prison gets OK in Senate". New Hampshire Union Leader. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  44. "Sen. Jeanne Shaeen". National Journal Almanac. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  45. Ben Leubsdorf (April 18, 2013). "Ayotte's 'no' vote helps defeat background check legislation". Concord Monitor. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  46. Sherman, Jake. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: Abolish MMS. Politico. May 26, 2010.
  47. . "GOP Objects to Giving Subpoena Power to BP Oil Spill Commission". YouTube. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  48. SenatorShaheen. "Senator Shaheen Discusses Subpoena Power for the BP Oil Spill Commission on Hardball". YouTube. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  49. Davenport, Coral (May 12, 2014). "Amid Pipeline and Climate Debate, Energy-Efficiency Bill is Derailed". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  50. Shaheen supported war, too. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  51. Jeanne Shaheen, National Chair, Kerry-Edwards Campaign Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  52. Andrew Harmon (November 1, 2011). "Jeanne Shaheen on Marriage Equality, Military Benefits". The Advocate.
  53. "SHAHEEN: GAY SOLDIER'S FAMILY SHOULD GET SAME RIGHTS AS OTHER FAMILIES". Senate site of Jeanne Shaheen. October 18, 2011.
  54. "Senator Shaheen's Legislation". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  55. "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved August 8, 2007.

Further reading

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Wayne King
Democratic nominee for Governor of New Hampshire
1996, 1998, 2000
Succeeded by
Mark Fernald
Preceded by
Dick Swett
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from New Hampshire
(Class 2)

2002, 2008, 2014
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Steve Merrill
Governor of New Hampshire
Succeeded by
Craig Benson
United States Senate
Preceded by
John Sununu
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from New Hampshire
Served alongside: Judd Gregg, Kelly Ayotte, Maggie Hassan (elect)
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Tom Udall
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Mark Warner
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