State speaker backs Clinton
New Hampshire House Speaker Terie Norelli announces to a small crowd at Cafe Espresso in Portsmouth on Wednesday, that she will endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton in the upcoming presidential election.
Jackie Ricciardi photo

PORTSMOUTH Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton are calling it the "dream team."

On Wednesday, Portsmouth state Representative and Speaker of the New Hampshire House Terie Norelli announced that she would not only support Clinton for the presidency, but had signed on as the state's campaign co-chairperson. Bill Shaheen, attorney, Democratic activist and husband of former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, is the other co-chairperson.

Norelli made her announcement in front of a small crowd of Clinton supporters, friends and press at Cafe Expresso at the Plaza 800 mall on Islington Street on Wednesday morning.

"I asked you here this morning to let you know that I've decided to endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton for president and that I'm going to co-chair her New Hampshire campaign," Norelli told the intimate crowd.

"This is not a decision I have taken lightly. This campaign comes at a time when we have an awful lot of damage to repair."

Norelli said she believes Clinton's political agenda reflects the desires of New Hampshire voters.

"A lot of voters are looking for change," she said. "Hillary Clinton has stood for change for 35 years."

Norelli specifically pointed to the bipartisan efforts in Congress in which Clinton has been involved and Clinton's years of experience both in the White House and the Senate.

"It takes really experienced leadership to make real change," the New Hampshire Speaker said. "Knowing what's at stake in this election, I'm going right to work traveling around the state meeting with voters."

Norelli said she has already set up 10 events around the state during the next two weeks. She will have the same kinds of coffee shop discussions with voters in North Conway, Laconia, Lebanon and Keene as she had Wednesday morning in Portsmouth, and previously in Concord and Manchester.

Clinton expressed her joy at having Norelli join her campaign in a press release issued at Wednesday's event.

"I am thrilled to have Terie's support in my quest to win the White House," Clinton said. "Americans want change, and, with Terie's help, I am going to be the president who can deliver that change."

Norelli is the first female to be elected Speaker of the New Hampshire House and was instrumental in getting legislation long desired by House Democrats passed this last session. That legislation included increasing the minimum wage, allowing same-sex couples to join in civil unions, and establishing a smoking ban in all of the state's bars and restaurants.

Initially a math teacher at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, Norelli has been a consistent women's advocate. She attended the Women's Conference in Beijing in 1995 and established a follow-up session in the state, and served as chair of the NARAL-NH PAC Board of Directors.

She's received the designation of Legislator of the Year from the Women's Lobby and the National Association of Social Workers, and received the Public Service Award from the Bi-State Primary Care Association.

Asked if her support for progressive issues and legislation in the New Hampshire House could impact her effectiveness as a Clinton co-chair, Norelli slightly side-stepped.

"The kind of things we proposed and got passed in the House were broadly supported by the public," she said. "I'll be talking about the issues that are important to New Hampshire voters (as part of the Clinton team) and the solutions Hillary Clinton brings to them."