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Mom, Daughter Run Together

  • Margaret Drye, left, and Virginia Drye, both of Plainfield, N.H., file paperwork on June 6, 2018, in the Plainfield Town Clerk's office to run for state representative in overlapping districts. If both are elected, they will be the first mother and daughter to serve in the state legislature in 16 years. (Paul Steinhauser photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 6/12/2018 12:08:01 AM
Modified: 6/12/2018 12:08:04 AM

Plainfield — Margaret and Virginia Drye hope to make some political history.

The mother-daughter duo from Plainfield Village teamed up on Wednesday at the town hall in Meriden to file their candidacies for state representative.

The women are running in overlapping districts in the state House of Representatives.

If they both win election in November, they’ll be the first mother and daughter to serve in the New Hampshire Legislature at the same time in 16 years.

And it’s possible they would become the first-ever Republican mother-daughter duo at the Statehouse.

“I’m 19. I’m a Republican and a woman,” Virginia Drye told the Valley News. “There’s no representation of that in my district.”

According to the elder Drye, the duo is trying to “remedy” the sparse number of Republican women in the Legislature “by leading by example.”

The numbers they’re trying to change are daunting.

While New Hampshire earlier this decade became the first state ever to have an all-female congressional delegation (it currently has an all-female and all-Democratic delegation), it’s a far different story in the state Legislature.

There are 118 women serving in the state’s 400-member House, according to the latest count from the House Speaker’s Office. Seventy-nine are Democrats and just 39 are Republicans.

There are seven women serving in the 24-member New Hampshire Senate — four Democrats and three Republicans.

“If you look at the demographics of the House, it is substantially aged and it is substantially male and a good portion of the folks are retired. It’s nice to have a representation of the rest of the state at the Statehouse making laws for us,” said Margaret Drye, who has been a strong proponent of home schooling and school choice.

Drye said she is trying to increase the number of Republican women campaigning for office by running the Vesta Roy Excellence in Public Service series.

Named after the late Republican lawmaker Vesta Roy —who was the first woman to serve as both state Senate president and as acting governor of New Hampshire — the decade-old series aims to increase the number of Granite State Republican women in elected or appointed governmental and political positions, as well as in volunteer and staff positions at the local, state and federal levels.

“Slowly but surely we are building a large group of alumni from the program who are trained and ready to run for politics,” the elder Drye explained.

Drye said she made the Vesta Roy classes easier to attend for working women or women with families, adding, “we had an exciting class. A lot of them are running for representative.”

One of those women taking the classes was her daughter Virginia.

“I’ve wanted to run for representative since I was 12,” the younger Drye explained. “My friends are not surprised that I’m running. They’re not surprised at all, because I am political compared to most of my friends and they’re really supportive of that.”

Margaret, an emergency medical technician for four decades, said the state’s acute opioid crisis is a key issue as she runs for office.

She’s also emphasizing regulatory reform, and supports the drive by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu to reduce the state’s regulation.

The drug epidemic also is a key issue for her daughter. Virginia, who was home-schooled, is also a strong proponent of school choice efforts to expand educational opportunities.

It’s no sure bet either Drye will make it to the Legislature.

The districts they’re hoping to represent tend to favor Democrats.

Margaret Drye, an occasional contributor to the Valley News, ran in a special election in November for an open seat in the two-seat Sullivan 1 district representing Grantham, Plainfield, Cornish and Springfield. She lost to Grantham Democrat Brian Sullivan, 1,297-671.

And one of Virginia’s older siblings, Michael, ran but lost for a House seat when he turned 18 in 2008.

Virginia Drye is running for a Sullivan 1 seat, while her mother is running in the Sullivan 9 “floterial” district which represents Grantham, Plainfield, Cornish, Springfield, Newport, Croydon, Sunapee and Unity.

Brian Sullivan, a former teacher and negotiator for the New Hampshire NEA who now serves on the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee, said he is running again, as did his Sullivan 1 seatmate, state Rep. Lee Oxenham, D-Plainfield.

State Rep. Linda Tanner, D-Sunapee, the Sullivan 9 incumbent and a retired Kearsarge high teacher, is running again. (The filing deadline ends on Friday.)

Regardless, the mother-daughter Drye duo are undaunted and both joked that they can save money by “sharing campaign signs.”

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