Former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen was named national chairwoman of Democrat John Kerry's presidential campaign Tuesday.
Shaheen, the most sought-after Democrat in the state, had steered clear of the presidential race to focus on teaching. Her endorsement of the Massachusetts senator was no surprise given that her husband, Bill Shaheen, is running Kerry's New Hampshire campaign.
But the timing was unexpected since Shaheen had agreed to moderate four candidate forums next month. The announcement also came shortly before Kerry's top rival in New Hampshire, Howard Dean, was speaking in Boston — Kerry's turf. Dean maintains a double-digit lead over Kerry in state polls.
Shaheen shattered the glass ceiling in 1996 when she was elected New Hampshire's first female governor and its first Democrat in 16 years. She made it onto Al Gore's short list of potential White House running mates in 2000. And last year, she came close to being the first Democrat elected to the Senate from New Hampshire in nearly three decades.
Shaheen, 56, was born in St. Charles, Mo., and grew up in a Republican family. She and her husband settled in New Hampshire in 1973, and three years later she worked on Jimmy Carter's winning campaign for president.
In 1984, she helped Colorado Sen. Gary Hart score a primary upset of front-runner Walter Mondale.
From 1976 to 1988, Shaheen juggled raising three daughters with running political campaigns, both presidential and at the state level. By 1990, she decided it was time to run her own, for the state Senate.
From: AP News, by Holly Ramer.