Ethel “Granny D” Haddock was born on January 24th 1910. Granny D attended Emerson College for three years before she married James Haddock. She found fame as a result of her walk across America in 2000 to highlight the part money plays in American elections.
She began her political career in 1960, campaigning to stop planned hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska; saving an Inuit village at Point Hope in the process.
Granny D retired to Dublin, New Hampshire, where she became active in community affairs.
However, she really achieved nationwide fame when in 2000 she completed a cross-country walk to raise awareness for the failed plan for restrictions on raising money for election campaigns.
In 1995 John McCann and Russ Feingold attempted to pass legislation limiting the amount of soft money that could be raised in elections. When this was rejected Granny D walked from California to Washington D.C. traveling around 3200 miles despite being 90 when she completed her walk on February 29th 2000.
Granny walked ten miles a day for fourteen months and gave speeches to communities along the way.
This gained a great deal of attention from the mass media, and the interest of several members of Congress who walked part of the way with her.
Granny D called her walk a ‘pilgrimage for social justice’ and relied on strangers for food and shelter during her walk.
Aged 94, Granny D challenged Senator Judd Gregg, the incumbent of New Hampshire, in 2004. She refused all special interest PAC’s and lost quite heavily, proving once again that incumbents have the upper hand during elections for Congress. Gregg polled 435,000 votes (66%) while Granny D got 222,000 (34%)
The election result demonstrated that although she is a well-known figure, she has very little political clout in American politics. Furthermore Granny D has opposition within Congress so her idea of controlling soft money is highly unlikely to come into force as the people who most benefit from soft money are in the legislative side of American politics already – either as standing House members or as Senators. Neither will feel obligated to change a system that has been of such value to them.
Granny D’s memoir is titled “Granny D: You’re Never Too Old to Raise a Little Hell.”