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Doris “Granny D” Haddock (1910-2010): Remembering Legendary Campaign Finance Reform Activist

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Doris “Granny D” Haddock, one of the leading fighters for campaign finance reform in the United States, died on Tuesday at the age of 100. In 1999, just shy of her ninetieth birthday, Granny D walked 3,200 miles across the country to promote campaign finance reform. She is widely credited for galvanizing the public support that helped pass the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act in 2002. We replay an excerpt of a 2004 interview with Granny D in the midst of her campaign for the US Senate against New Hampshire incumbent Judd Gregg. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We want to turn now to Granny D in her own words. Born in Laconia, New Hampshire in 1910, Doris “Granny D” Haddock became one of the leading fighters for campaign finance reform in this country. On January 1st, 1999, just shy of her ninetieth birthday, Granny D began a walk across the country to promote campaign finance reform. She walked 3,200 miles — ten miles each day for fourteen months — finishing her march in Washington, DC. She is widely credited for galvanizing the public support that helped pass the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002.

In 2004, when the presumed Democratic nominee for the US Senate from New Hampshire dropped out of the race just days before the filing deadline, Granny D decided to jump into the fray against the Republican incumbent, Senator Judd Gregg. She captured 34 percent of the vote but lost the race.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, in recent years, Granny D founded a group that pushed the New Hampshire state legislature to create the Citizen Funded Election Task Force. She was also working on a new book, My Bohemian Century, which is expected to be published this spring. Granny D died at her home in Dublin, New Hampshire on Tuesday at a hundred. A public memorial will be held Sunday at 2:00 at the Dublin Community Church.

I had a chance to interview Granny D in August of 2004, in the midst of her campaign for the US Senate against Judd Gregg. She was ninety-four years old at the time. She came into our firehouse studio, and I began by asking her why she decided to run for the Senate.

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: Well, I was out on a 23,000-mile trip trying to get the vote out. Only 50 percent of the people are voting, and we were doing the swing states and trying to talk to single women, because that’s one of the big blocs that are not voting, and also African American. And I had been out since — we had been out since October, and we got a little tired and decided to go back to Dublin for an R&R. And when we got there, we heard that the candidate that was running against Gregg had had to stop, because he — well, it was public that his manager left in the middle of the night with the money, and so he had to retire from it.

    And we had until 5:30 that evening to decide whether or not we would consider running. And we called Kathy Sullivan and asked her what she thought. She said, “I have tried to find people throughout the state, and can’t, that will jump in at this late date.” And I said, “Well, I hate to see him going without any competition at all. And I — did you think it might be possible for me to do it?” And she says, “Yes, go.” And so, I did.

    AMY GOODMAN: And so, now you’re running for Senate.


    AMY GOODMAN: You have been a long critic of campaigns in this country.

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: Yes, indeed.

    AMY GOODMAN: You walked the country for campaign finance reform.


    AMY GOODMAN: So how are you doing it?

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: Well, it’s taken awhile to get a staff together, but I feel I’m in very good shape now. I have three people from Kucinich’s campaign. I have Joe Trippi from the Dean campaign, who is strategizing for me. And I had several other people, two people from — I’m doing alright. I’m trying to run on individual contributions, of small, legal contributions, on the — and I’m going to the web, as did Dr. Dean. And he did very well, and I think it’s the way to go. And so, I’m setting up a new order.

    AMY GOODMAN: So, we always call you “Granny D.”


    AMY GOODMAN: Your real name is Doris Haddock.


    AMY GOODMAN: Or maybe Granny D is your real name. I’m not quite sure what “real” means.

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: Well, now it is.

    AMY GOODMAN: But let’s talk about what it means to make it official and how you appear on the ballot.

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: OK. I went before a committee, a ballot committee. There were five of us. And three of them were given permission, because they said their name was a derivation of their own name. And I said, “So is mine, because my name is Doris, and they call me Granny D,” and that that’s the way I was known throughout the country, and I was going to need funds from everywhere, and I needed — not many people know me as Doris Haddock. And they refused to let me have it. There were three Republicans on the — and one of the Democrats, who voted against me. It wasn’t clear. Each one had a different reason why. And so, we went away dejected.

    And then my son said, “How about changing your name?” And that’s what I did. I went to court and changed my name, so it’s now Doris “Granny D” Haddock.

    AMY GOODMAN: Now, if you win, so you will be ninety-four —-


    AMY GOODMAN: —- becoming a senator —-


    AMY GOODMAN: —- it wouldn’t — and talk about your record and your candidate’s record. And do you think age should play a part in people’s considerations? I mean, do you think that people should vote for you because you have more years of experience?

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: Yes, as Chick Colony in Harrisville said, “You are an adult advocate,” not — it wasn’t “advocate,” but it was an adult leader. And I know that it is the elephant in the room, that ninety-four years, but I have been out walking every day that I didn’t have a commitment, like this, since I decided to run. I’m walking around three — number three postal route down in Derry, so I have to get up about 4:30 to get there, because I want to be there when the morning rush is there. And I’m there waving my hand to everyone that goes by, and now I’ve got them so they’re tooting their horns and recognizing who I am, because I’ve done very little work in New Hampshire, you know. It’s always been out. And the one time we tried to get clean elections passed in New Hampshire, the state Senate voted for it, and the House voted against it, and it hasn’t been brought up — well, I think it was brought up again, because then they canceled it in the Senate.

    AMY GOODMAN: How many terms has Judd Gregg served?

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: He’s served two, and he’s asking for a third. And he has already raised $2.8 million. And he has —-

    AMY GOODMAN: You’ve raised? You’ve raised how much?

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: No, he has.

    AMY GOODMAN: No, and you’ve raised?

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: Oh, I have raised I think about $50,000. And he has decided that that is enough money, so he’s gone off west to work for other candidates. And -—

    AMY GOODMAN: Will you have a debate with him?

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: If he asks. I would much rather play a game of Scrabble with him. But if I was urged to do it, I could [inaudible].

    AMY GOODMAN: Why Scrabble?

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: Because that’s a game that I love, and it seemed more like a David and Goliath weapon, because that’s what the people, the pundits, are calling my — calling this a David and Goliath game. And they are also saying it’s probably the most interesting campaign that’s going on in the country and that if I win, I could definitely tip the Senate, and I might be of importance when it came time to choose another Supreme Court member. And so, a lot of people are rooting for me.

    AMY GOODMAN: What are your primary issues that you’re campaigning around?

    DORIS “GRANNY D” HADDOCK: Well, I’m campaigning on all the issues that everyone else has. Of course, my main interest is campaign finance reform, and until we get public funding in this country, we will be in the mess that we’re in today. There is no other way to save our democracy and no other way to keep it a democracy, except through public funding.

    But I care about the fact that we are the only civilized nation in the world that doesn’t have national health. We are letting our schools go to pieces. On one side, you have a country club-type of school; on the other side, you have a place that our children are ashamed to go into. That’s not fair. We are supposed to be a fair nation. And we’re not being fair at all.

    And here we are — I’ve listened to them yesterday. You would think that there was nothing — such a thing as a $445 billion deficit in our country. Things are not right, and people in this country realize that. When I walked across the country, people were in tears over the fact that they no longer had a representative. They knew that they had — a poor man today has to sell his votes in order to run for office, or he has to be a multimillionaire. That is not a democracy. And until we get public funding, it will not be one.

AMY GOODMAN: Granny D Haddock. She died Tuesday at the age of a hundred at her home in Dublin, New Hampshire.

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