The Bulletin Board

Organization aims to get state Democrats with science backgrounds elected to Legislature

By: - March 9, 2022 2:15 pm
Doors to the House chamber in the State House

The bill targets so-called sanctuary cities, including Hanover and Lebanon. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)

This story was updated on March 9, 2022 at 3 p.m. to correct information provided by 314 Action in error.

A national nonprofit that has primarily focused on getting Democrats with STEM backgrounds elected to Congress is turning its attention to New Hampshire’s 424-seat Legislature. 

The group, 314 Action, has chosen Monday, national Pi Day, to announce a pilot project aimed at recruiting, training, and supporting candidates for down-ballot, local races. It chose New Hampshire because there are lots of seats and most can be won with relatively little campaign money. 

Its candidates can expect endorsements, guidance on everything from filing and running for office to campaign communication, and, in some cases, financial support.

“One of the things that we want to convey to scientists and physicians is that their skills, their analytical skills, their focus on collaboration and problem-solving, are the exact skills that we need to see in our statehouse and municipal offices,” said Shaughnessy Naughton, founder and president. “And that although it may not be their first career choice, it is a great way to participate in their community, give back to their community, and make their communities better.”

This is not a bipartisan project. 

Naughton said 314 Action supports Democrats because she believes Republicans generally have taken an anti-science approach to major issues. The group is scanning publicly available information, such as professional license databases and LinkedIn, to identify potential candidates. 

The group hopes to capture 5 percent to 10 percent of those 424 State House seats as early as this year’s elections.

It believes scientists are uniquely poised to combat misinformation about climate change, vaccines, and even health care issues like abortion.

“We need them as more than just advisers that can be ignored when they’re being annoying,” Naughton said, “and actually lawmakers with a seat at the table.”

Naughton founded the 314 Action in 2016, after losing her own congressional race, in hopes of identifying and encouraging more like-minded scientists to run for office. She wanted to provide easy access to the campaign resources that she had to search for during her race.

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.