Lauren Chooljian

Reporter, Politics & Policy

Credit Lucy Hewett / lucyhewett.com

Lauren is NHPR’s Politics and Policy reporter for the State of Democracy project.

Before joining NHPR in 2017, Lauren spent nearly six years as a reporter, producer and fill-in host for WBEZ in Chicago. Most recently, she covered City Hall and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.

Her reporting has earned her awards from the Associated Press and a regional Murrow Award. In 2014, her voice was featured on a best-of list in the Chicago Tribune culture section for its “unpretentious, Peppermint Patty scratchiness,” which her family especially appreciated.

Lauren graduated with a BA in History from Saint Anselm College and has a Master of Science in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she was also an adjunct lecturer. Her work as been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here and Now, and in The Washington Post, among others.

Lauren is a proud New Hampshire native, born and raised in Hampstead.   

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Sara Plourde

After years of having to choose between the same two candidates, voters in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional district are now faced with a flood of candidates who want to fill retiring Rep. Carol Shea-Porter's seat. 

As of April 23rd, there are eight Democrats and two Republicans in the race. And with the September primary months away, there's always time for more to join. 

Valentina Tabatchikova for NHPR

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Presidential Advisor Ivanka Trump will spend part of Tax Day in New Hampshire. The two White House officials will host a town hall discussion on taxes Tuesday afternoon at the Derry Opera House to highlight passage of the recent tax overhaul.

The event kicks off at 1 pm and will be moderated by former Governor John H. Sununu.

NHPR Staff

Ahead of another student walk out to protest gun violence, around 200 gun rights advocates had their say outside the New Hampshire statehouse Saturday.

The National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans organized similar events outside statehouses across the country. Despite biting cold weather, gun owners and second amendment advocates from across New Hampshire showed up to hear a range of speakers and to show opposition to any further firearm restrictions.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan is backing Executive Councilor Chris Pappas in the crowded 1st Congressional District race.

It’s pretty early for a big endorsement like this -- the primary election isn’t until September. But Hassan, a Democrat, told a crowd of people inside Water Street Books in Exeter that people keep asking her who she’s voting for and she decided it’s best to tell them now.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

  And just like that, it was primary season again in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

But does it really ever end?

Two past (and potentially present) presidential hopefuls, Martin O’Malley and John Kasich, made their way through the first-in-the-nation primary state Tuesday.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

  New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu beamed as he looked out upon a room packed with 60 round tables, each one full of supporters.

“A little daunting once you finally get up here. I’m absolutely humbled, absolutely humbled at the turnout,” he said to the crowd.   

It may have been Sununu’s party at the Manchester Downtown Hotel Thursday night, but it was Vice President Mike Pence who got top billing.

Twitter

As Dave Carney tells it, September of 1982 was a rough time for John H. Sununu’s campaign for governor.

“We we were broke,” Carney, a longtime political strategist, recalled recently. “We had no money, we couldn’t pay staff. Not that he paid very much anyways…”

 


Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  Governor Chris Sununu said Wednesday he wants his hand-picked school safety task force to research the effectiveness of arming school employees and if stronger background checks could help prevent gun violence.

The first-term Republican's School Safety Preparedness Task Force met for the first time Wednesday, the same day students across the state walked out of the classroom to honor the 17 people killed in the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Fla.

Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr/Creative Commons

It may not be every New Hampshire reveler’s go-to drink order, but Hennessy cognac was the top selling spirit by volume at state-run liquor stores in 2017, accounting for nearly 5 percent of total sales that year.

 

Hennessy also happens to be the liquor at the center of bootlegging allegations made last month by Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, who is calling for an investigation into how the New Hampshire Liquor Commission handles large all-cash sales made by out-of-state residents.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Social studies teacher Rob Nadeau’s journey to the New Hampshire State House began last fall in his Hopkinton Middle High School classroom. While teaching an Intro to Law class, he said he noticed his students were shocked to learn that in New Hampshire, permitted gun owners were allowed to bring their firearms into a school building. 

It’s not often that a political candidate announces his or her platform, and then is immediately challenged by passionate opponents.

But last week, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand stood on the steps of the Lebanon City Hall taking questions - not from reporters, but passionate gun rights advocates.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

We’ve heard a lot of stories this election cycle about political newcomers who have been inspired to run for office. But there are often many obstacles between making that big personal decision and actually running a campaign.

A Boston-based group called New Politics is trying to help veterans and other public servants break into politics. This election cycle, they’re working with Maura Sullivan, a New Hampshire congressional candidate and a Marine veteran.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

There’s a phrase political reporters often lean on when describing Democratic congressional candidate Maura Sullivan: “Right out of central casting.”

Sullivan is a Marine and a Harvard grad who served multiple posts in the Obama administration. So, yeah, central casting seems accurate.

And yet, there’s a very noticeable hole in her resume that has been tripping up some New Hampshire voters lately who are weighing their options in the 1st Congressional District--there’s not much on Sullivan’s resume about the Granite State.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand laid out his plan to curb gun violence Tuesday, and his announcement in Lebanon inspired an impromptu public debate about the 2nd Amendment.

Marchand is the only Democrat so far in the race against incumbent Republican Governor Chris Sununu.

FEC District Map

New Hampshire's newest congressional hopeful knows he’ll constantly be linked with his presidential candidate dad (he even sounds like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at times).

 

But Levi Sanders says he hopes people pay more attention to issues like income inequality, gun safety, and opioid addiction than they do his famous name.

NHPR File Photo

The Chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party Monday criticized an Executive Councilor for conducting his own "misguided sting" investigation into potential money laundering at state liquor stores.

Andru Volinsky, Letter to Governor and Attorney General

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky is calling for an investigation into the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, alleging that the state’s liquor stores are engaging in business practices that could “unquestionably facilitate money laundering related to criminal activities.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gun laws are always divisive in the Live Free or Die state, but Tuesday, lawmakers are taking up a bill that is dividing a normally united front in the Republican-controlled state house: Gun rights groups.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu is backing a bill that he says will reform how New Hampshire’s state government works

Regulatory reform has been on Sununu’s to-do list since running for office. He once called New Hampshire a “regulatory police state.”

Last year, he pulled together an all-male group of lawmakers and business owners to figure out the best ways to cut red tape.

On Monday, they sent him a nearly 50-page list of suggestions that include processing permits faster and making fire marshals solely responsible for the fire codes in foster homes.

Courtesy photo

Joel Storella’s “Cash Only Vintage” is about the last thing visitors to Littleton, New Hampshire expect to find while strolling along Main Street.

The quintessential New England town is known for being home to the world’s longest candy counter and the author of Pollyanna...but vintage Ralph Lauren sweatshirts and highlighter colored ski suits? Not so much. But those are just two of the many 80s and 90s gems you’ll find at Storella’s vintage clothing store.

File photo

St. Paul’s School in Concord is settling a civil lawsuit brought by the family of a former student, Chessy Prout, who was a 15-year-old freshman at the elite boarding school when she accused then senior Owen Labrie of sexually assaulting her.

Courtesy of St. Paul's School's Website

Long before the #MeToo movement took down politicians, movie moguls and powerful media personalities, St. Paul’s School in Concord was grappling with its own history of sexual misconduct.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has a long to-do list for this year’s legislative session.

Sununu gathered Republican lawmakers together for a press conference early Tuesday morning that had the feel of a GOP pep rally. 

The New Hampshire Republican Party has sometimes struggled to unite, even with control of the Statehouse. But Tuesday, Sununu praised lawmakers for their work last year, expressed confidence in what’s ahead and tried to normalize potential splits.

 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Both New Hampshire’s U.S. senators said Monday they will not hold up a budget deal as leverage for immigration reform.

 

President Donald Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program - or DACA - last year.  The program protected tens of thousands of kids who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Trump gave Congress until March to find a fix, but so far, it hasn’t been resolved.

St. Paul's School

The head of the elite St. Paul’s School in Concord is resigning.

Michael Hirschfeld has been part of the prestigious prep school’s faculty since 1994, and has led the institution for the past seven years. Like many administrators, he is also an alumni, and he sent both his children to St Paul’s.

Hirschfeld made the announcement at the school’s Chapel assembly Thursday and in a letter to the greater St Paul’s community. He didn’t explain why he was leaving the school, just that “the time is right for new leadership.”

The 2018 -2019 school year will be his last.

Wikimedia commons

New Hampshire House lawmakers are expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would legalize home liquor distilling.

Booze enthusiasts are currently allowed to make up to 200 gallons of beer and wine at home - depending on the size of their household.

But distilling liquor at home is against state law.

That doesn’t make sense to Representative Scott Wallace of Danville.

"The natural progression of the hobby is you make some wine, if you’d like to turn that into brandy, that’s not currently lawful. So this bill would allow for that."

Bev Newton via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7cf8Yk

There are thousands of historic cemeteries and burial grounds all over the state of New Hampshire, and a state lawmaker wants to make it easier to keep track of them.

Senator David Watters of Dover has been fascinated by old gravestones and cemeteries since he was in high school - he also researched them while teaching at UNH.

He says burial grounds reflect New Hampshire's history and tradition.

"In many towns they didn't have a local or central cemetery established you know sometimes into the 1800s."

Courtesy photo

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire now have a new way of measuring snow totals this winter that could help them learn more about climate change.

The new scales function almost like a scale you might have in your bathroom. They lie flat on the ground and constantly measure the amount of water in the snow as it piles up or melts down.

Elizabeth Burakowski is a researcher at UNH. She says the scales share data in real time, which will help scientists understand how potentially warmer winters could impact New Hampshire's ecosystem.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A handful of New Hampshire House Democrats are in Alabama for the much-talked about special U.S. Senate election between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones.

House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff says he organized the trip a few months ago, after Moore won the Republican primary for the Senate seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General.

 

Gene Chandler is back as Speaker of the New Hampshire House.

After two rounds of secret ballots and one caucus meeting Thursday, Chandler won the majority of votes cast by his House colleagues. The Bartlett Republican beat Democrat Steve Shurtleff of Penacook and Libertarian Jim McConnell of North Swanzey.

Chandler is in his 18th term in the NH house.

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