For Some New Hampshire Women at DNC, Clinton Nomination Feels Personal

Jul 28, 2016

Even as she sat in the lobby of her hotel Thursday morning, hours before the convention was scheduled to gavel in, just a simple question was enough to move Judi Lanza to tears.

What would it be like for her, in the stands tonight, to watch Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic Party’s nomination?

“I’m already tearing up, just even to ask that question. I can’t wait to see her walk out, because I know that I will tear up,” Lanza said. “Because it’s her turn. She’s worked so hard, for all of her life -- she’s given to families and children. This is such an important time. It’s great to be a part of this historical moment.”

Lanza wasn't a delegate to the convention, but she got to know Clinton on the campaign trail in New Hampshire – and she knew she wanted to be there to witness her acceptance speech in person.

While Clinton has been a role model for women in politics for decades, she has often struggled in this campaign with her broader favorability among voters. Still, for many women in New Hampshire’s delegation, Clinton’s nomination feels personal.

These women said they will be thinking tonight of their mothers and their daughters – and some now in elected office said they’ll be thinking of the women who came before them, those who served as mentors as they learned how to navigate state politics.

“This morning as I was getting ready, I was thinking a lot about my own mother who served in the Legislature,” said State Sen. Donna Soucy. “She died during that time, and I got to step into her seat in the Statehouse.

More than two decades ago, Soucy  was also there to watch Clinton address the 1992 convention as a soon-to-be First Lady.

“It’s just going to be a big night thinking about what this means to women and young women in particular, in New Hampshire, in our country and throughout the world,” Soucy added.

New Hampshire is a place where women have often enjoyed a seat at the table in politics. A few years ago, the state sent the country’s first all-female delegation to Congress. Women have served as New Hampshire’s Speaker of the House

   and as State Senate President.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who was elected as the state’s first female governor in 1996, also happens to be the first woman in the country to have served both as governor and U.S. senator.

Shaheen said she, too, is eager to see Clinton pave the way for future generations of female leaders.

“Make no mistake: Hillary’s nomination will open doors for millions of women. I’m fortunate because I’ve gotten to be governor. I’ve gotten to be senator. I’ve seen the glass ceiling shatter for me,” Shaheen told a group of delegates over breakfast earlier this week. “But until it shatters for every woman out there – until every woman has the same opportunities as every man in this country, we are not going to achieve equality. And that’s part of what this campaign is about.”

Jackie Weatherspoon, a former state representative and a Clinton delegate, was in Beijing in 1995 to see Clinton address the United Nations Conference on Women -- the speech where Clinton delivered her declaration that “women’s rights are human rights.”

She, too, said being a part of Clinton’s nomination this week was especially powerful.

“When I signed the papers with my vote for her, the other day, I literally broke down and cried. It was just tears of joy and like, oh my gosh,” Weatherspoon said. “For me, it’s a historical gift as an African American woman that our two daughters and our four granddaughters that they will know their grandmother was a part of changing history.”

She has a feeling there will be plenty of tears again in that room tonight.