Two democrats with parallel views run for same State Senate seat

Rebecca McWilliams

Rebecca McWilliams

The New Hampshire State House in Concord.

The New Hampshire State House in Concord.

Angela Brennan—


Monitor staff

Published: 04-15-2024 5:23 PM

Modified: 04-16-2024 12:07 PM

Angela Brennan of Bow and Rebecca McWilliams of Concord, both Democratic State Representatives, have entered the race for the New Hampshire State Senate in District 15, to fill the shoes of Sen. Becky Whitley, who is eyeing a congressional seat.

The districts they seek to represent, including Bow, Concord, and Hopkinton, are currently served by Whitley, a Democrat from Hopkinton, who has held the seat since her election in 2020.

Brennan’s goal, should she win a State Senate seat, is to bridge the gap between the House and Senate to pass legislation that will positively impact the lives of Granite Staters.

Instances like the recent defeat of initiatives such as The Art Ellison Feed the Kids Act or House Bill 1212, which aimed to expand free and reduced lunch eligibility for school children, deeply resonate with Brennan. As a proud cosponsor of the bill, witnessing it fail by just one vote in the last session was an emotional moment for her in the State House.

“I was just extremely disappointed to see hyper-partisan politics get in the way of common sense legislation that could have a meaningful impact on children’s lives. We need to be focused on banning hunger, not banning books,” Brennan said passionately, highlighting the need to eliminate the disconnect between the two legislative bodies, which often operate independently. “That’s the kind of thing that we need to change. I think there’s room for improvement and it’s important to find a compromise and common ground everywhere to keep moving forward.”

For McWilliams, her decision to run for a State Senate seat is deeply influenced by her personal experiences with reproductive rights.

Her own life-saving procedure at Concord Hospital for ectopic pregnancy and the IVF she underwent to conceive her twins motivate her to repeal the 24-week abortion ban in the state and bring back reproductive freedoms.

“The state needs to stay out of health care decisions,” said McWilliams. “That decision should be between a woman and her doctor.”

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Reproductive rights also had a role in Brennan joining state politics.

Before securing a seat in 2022 as a state rep, Brennan was hesitant about her capacity to juggle dual responsibilities as a Bow select board member. However, when the US Supreme Court overturned years of progress in reproductive rights, Brennan felt compelled to act.

“I said there’s simply too much at stake to sit on the sidelines. I have to get involved, I can do this,” said Brennan, recalling the catalyst that started her journey in the State House. “The government needs to stay out of personal and private healthcare decisions.”

Besides reproductive rights, both candidates share a commitment to increasing funding for quality public education.

“We have all this opportunity and so many things that every year we debate at the school board about what needs to get cut because we just can’t afford it,” said McWilliams, whose six-year-old twins attend Abbott Downing School in Concord. “We absolutely need to make sure we fund an adequate public school education and ... I lose sleep over that.”

Brennan, serving in various public service roles, including chairperson of the Bow Select Board and member of the House Election Law Committee, is actively engaged in advocacy work.

In addition to advocating for legislation regarding artificial intelligence in elections and leading the write-in Biden campaign in New Hampshire, Brennan is dedicated to safeguarding LGBTQ+ rights and promoting an inclusive economy while prioritizing community safety.

With six years of legislative experience and as an attorney in Concord, McWilliams also manages Lewis Farm with her husband and actively participates in the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee, where she promotes renewable energy initiatives. She is also passionate about childcare.

Both candidates bring the perspective of working mothers to the forefront of their campaigns.

“I think it’s about time that we have another woman and a mother take Senator Whitley’s seat,” said McWilliams. “I think that Concord, Bow and Hopkinton tend to like having a woman in the slot.”

“I’m just a mom that’s looking to get things done. We can do it all. We can lead, we can balance and we can deliver results,” said Brennan. “They are qualified for public service and we need moms and women stepping up in all leadership roles.”