No boys' club here: New Hampshire's all-women delegation

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - You may remember the photo from a while back of New Hampshire's Congressional delegation and the governor.

What's unusual is -- as you can see -- all of them are women.

The five women holding New Hampshire's top political offices, from left, Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan, U.S. Reps.-elect Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, and U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen discuss what their lives are like as female politicians during a panel discussion Friday Dec. 7, 2012 at the Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
The five women holding New Hampshire's top political offices, from left, Gov. Maggie Hassan, and new U.S. Reps. Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, and U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen discuss what their lives are like as female politicians during a recent panel discussion
AP Photo/Jim Cole

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It starts at the top with Democrat Maggie Hassan, the state's third female governor.

Then there are the state's two senators: Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, the former governor, and Republican Kelly Ayotte, the state's former Attorney General. Both of the states new representatives are women, too.

"I think it's really what's on the ballot!" said Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. "You know, we were laughing; Sen. Shaheen said that in New Hampshire, we don't have binders full of women. We have ballots full of women."

Reps. Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster say it's partly because New Hampshire has such a large state legislature: 400 members. That gives women plenty of opportunity to enter politics and then to help each other move up.

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Rep. Ann Kuster (D)
New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Rep. Ann Kuster (D)
CBS News

"Sen. Shaheen has said that my mom who served for 25 years in the legislature was a great mentor for her. And then Sen. Shaheen has been a great mentor for me and for Carol, and so the doors have been opened for us," Rep. Kuster said.

Gov. Hassan was sworn in earlier this month by a female chief justice of the state Supreme Court, in a ceremony presided over by a female state House speaker.

"I certainly think there is a camaraderie that comes from shared experiences, and I think the fact that all of us are mothers, as well as public servants as well as wives and sisters and daughters, certainly is something that binds us together," Hassan said.

"You know, I've said if you can raise toddlers and teenagers then you know how to get to yes," Porter said. "You know how to bring people to the table. And right now in Congress, that's what voters are looking for Congress to do."

As for the male politicians in New Hampshire that have been iced out of all these position, Porter says there's plenty and "they're wonderful."

"And they'll be back! This is not permanent by any means," Kuster said.

Porter added, "But we're having a lot of fun though and we're having fun with it."

And they're serving as powerful inspiration for New Hampshire's next generation of women leaders.

  • Nancy Cordes On Twitter»

    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.

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