Lauren Chooljian

Reporter, Politics & Policy

Credit Lucy Hewett / lucyhewett.com

Lauren is NHPR’s Politics and Policy reporter for the State of Democracy project.

Before joining NHPR in 2017, Lauren spent nearly six years as a reporter, producer and fill-in host for WBEZ in Chicago. Most recently, she covered City Hall and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.

Her reporting has earned her awards from the Associated Press and a regional Murrow Award. In 2014, her voice was featured on a best-of list in the Chicago Tribune culture section for its “unpretentious, Peppermint Patty scratchiness,” which her family especially appreciated.

Lauren graduated with a BA in History from Saint Anselm College and has a Master of Science in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she was also an adjunct lecturer. Her work as been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here and Now, and in The Washington Post, among others.

Lauren is a proud New Hampshire native, born and raised in Hampstead.   

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of Katie Rivera

Katie Rivera is scared. She’s 38 weeks pregnant, sitting in her car in a doctor’s office parking lot. She’s far enough along now that she’s supposed to see her doctor every week.

She used to like these appointments - they were calming. She’d bring her 2-year-old Elle, the nurses would give Elle stickers - it was nice. 

But now, Elle’s not allowed. Katie is waiting until the last possible second to go in there, to minimize any potential exposure.

Courtesy of Jordan Travers

It was just a week before the opening night of Pinkerton Academy's production of Children of Eden, and the cast was hard at work in the chorus room, running through the entire musical from start to finish for the first time.

Senior Emma Cahoon was Eve, her first lead role ever in the school’s spring musical, and she remembers the exact moment in the rehearsal when things went wrong.

Photo Courtesy of Todd Bookman

Things are feeling pretty heavy right now. Whether you are practicing social distancing at home, caring for a loved one who is ill or trying to make sense of an uncertain and fast-evolving public health crisis — it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. 

A longtime defender of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary won’t be running for another term at the Democratic National Committee.

Erika Janik/NHPR

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg finished in a close second place behind Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 New Hampshire Democratic Primary, winning 24 percent of the vote compared to 26 percent for Sanders.

And as he made clear in a celebratory speech to supporters Tuesday evening, Buttigieg heads out of the Granite State with his sights clearly set on Sanders.

NHPR/Lauren Chooljian

 

Pete Buttigieg's campaign spent the last weekend before the New Hampshire primary highlighting big crowds and rising poll numbers. But that boost in attention doesn't guarantee smooth sailing from here for the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.

A crowd at a political rally, of course, can’t tell you everything. It can’t tell you for sure which candidate is going to win on Tuesday, and it can hint at a sense of potential successes or problems on Primary Day.

Jason Moon/NHPR

After a day of confusion and incomplete information,  the two candidates who, at least for now, appear to have finished first and second in the Iowa Caucuses – Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders – spoke to enthusiastic crowds Tuesday evening. Both of them claimed Iowa victories...in New Hampshire.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A lot of New Hampshire voters still have no idea who they’ll support in the presidential primary: recent polling indicates just 30 percent of likely Democratic voters here have made up their minds.

Some say they’re looking inward, and as they do, anger has become a major factor in their decision.

Lauren Chooljian/NHPR

Some of the Democratic candidates running for president this year are banking on a myth.

It’s a famous one: That New Hampshire gives little known candidates a real chance at the White House.

But in 2020, is there still any truth to that?

Mayor Pete Buttigieg called on McKinsey & Co. Friday to release its client list from Buttigieg's time at the prestigious global consulting firm, a response to criticism that he hasn't been transparent about his nearly three years there.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg called on the consulting firm McKinsey and Co. Friday to release its client list from his time at the company, a response to criticism that he hasn't been transparent about his nearly three years there.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is expected to officially announce Monday that the state's 2020 presidential primary will be held on February 11th.

If all goes as expected, the date will be in line with a long-established tradition that puts the state's first in the nation primary a week and a day after the Iowa caucuses.

But in New Hampshire, the date isn't official until Gardner says it is.

Vice President Pence traveled to New Hampshire on Thursday to officially add Donald Trump's name to the first-in-the-nation primary ballot.

His visit comes as President Trump's GOP challengers see the primary as a place where they'll make a stand against Trump, especially as other states have canceled primaries and changed Republican National Committee convention delegate rules to prevent any sort of insurgent candidate from emerging.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Vice President Mike Pence dropped by the New Hampshire State House today to sign the paperwork and hand over the required $1,000 fee to put President Donald Trump's name on the first in the nation Republican primary ballot.

A handful of states, including Nevada and South Carolina, have canceled their GOP presidential primaries  despite three Republicans running to challenge Trump for the party's nomination.

Pence was asked if he wished New Hampshire had joined those other states.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The scene outside the SNHU Arena in Manchester looked pretty much like every other Trump rally you’ve seen on TV: thousands of people in bright red hats, street vendors selling Trump gear.

But the difference was the line of people who wound around Elm Street - many wearing Red Sox shirts matched with their Make America Great Again hats.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

 

Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan swung through the first-in-the-nation primary state Tuesday, telling a group of business leaders and politicos at Saint Anselm College that he's seriously considering running for president in 2020. 

 

Hogan called for more Republicans to challenge President Donald Trump in the primary ("the more, the merrier," he said), as he believes a bigger field would help Trump be a better candidate and grow the Republican Party.

 

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

 

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld says the country needs a foreign policy that doesn't change with the president's mood swings.

 

Weld announced this week he’s officially challenging President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primary.

 

In a speech Tuesday at Southern New Hampshire University, Weld railed against President Trump, saying the president's America First slogan reminded him of dictators like Adolf Hitler.

 

Weld also called for free and fair trade, and he called China and Russia authoritarian regimes.

 

Jack Rodolico / NHPR

It’s been nearly 30 years since Pamela Smart was sentenced to life in prison for being an accomplice in the 1990 murder of her husband, Gregg. Since then, interest in one of New Hampshire’s most notorious murder cases has seemingly never waned, and the four then-teenage boys who confessed to being involved in the murder have been let out of prison.

This week, Smart, now 51, is making another attempt at freedom, using the only legal avenue she has left: Her attorney is petitioning Gov. Chris Sununu and the New Hampshire Executive Council to commute her life sentence and give her the possibility of parole.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

  President Donald Trump might have a Republican challenger in 2020.

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld was in New Hampshire to announce he has launched a presidential exploratory committee. He’s the first Republican to throw a hat at least close to the 2020 ring.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire Republicans had a brutally honest conversation this weekend about the state party’s dysfunction, and how it led to being “outspent, out-organized and out-messaged” by Democrats in the midterm elections.

Lauren Chooljian for NHPR

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is now a gun-free zone.

The new Democratic majority led an effort Wednesday to ban deadly weapons from the House chamber - the largest public space at the State House - and in surrounding rooms. The vote was 220 to 163, marking one of the first pieces of official business this session.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

Two of Donald Trump's key New Hampshire supporters want the state Republican Party to endorse the president in the 2020 primary.

 

But after talking with Gov. Chris Sununu, they've decided not to press the issue anymore. 

 

Historically, both state parties stay out of primary elections. 

 

But Republicans -- state Rep. Fred Doucette and Bruce Breton -- wanted to change the rules.

 

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

When Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich is in New Hampshire, as he has been twice this year, and when he’s asked about running for president, as he constantly is, he responds with “all of my options are on the table.”

And when he says all options, his list includes running, not running, and running as a third party candidate.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Democrat Chris Pappas beat Republican Eddie Edwards Tuesday in the race for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District. The candidates were vying for the seat vacated by Democrat Carol Shea Porter.

Pappas' victory came after a hard-fought battle that began with two bitter primary campaigns and a general election that kept voters on edge until late on election night.

Lauren Chooljian for NHPR

The divisive 2018 midterm campaign is quickly drawing to a close.

Over the weekend - candidates and volunteers knocked on doors, shook hands - and in some cases went grocery shopping - as they tried to make their final get out the vote push.

NHPR’s Lauren Chooljian and Josh Rogers were also on the trail.

Lauren Chooljian | NHPR

The midterm elections are just a few days away. New Hampshire voters will be choosing who they want for governor, both congressional districts and in all 424 legislative seats.

But with all the Democratic presidential hopefuls in town lately, it's starting to feel more like 2020 than 2018.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

Denise Bowdidge would like it to be known that she is a big fan of President Donald Trump.

 

“He’s not afraid, he’s a man of strength and encouragement and hope for people for the future,” she told an NHPR reporter one August afternoon.

Those same feelings propelled her to drive across the 1st Congressional District, from her home in Bedford, to Portsmouth, where Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was in town to endorse Republican Eddie Edwards.

At the time, Edwards was locked in a heated primary battle with opponent Andy Sanborn, and he was courting Trump supporters hard.

“The president is doing one hell of a job in Washington,” Edwards said. “One hell of a job.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

First Congressional District candidates Eddie Edwards and Chris Pappas faced off at New Hampshire Public Radio today for their first, live debate of the general election. Edwards, a Republican from Dover, is a former chief of law enforcement for the state Liquor Commission. Pappas, a Democrat from Manchester, is a restaurateur and current Executive Councilor for District 4.

NHPR's Lauren Chooljian, one of the debate moderators, joined All Things Considered host Peter Biello to discuss how the debate went.

Lauren Chooljian / NHPR

The national storm over Judge Brett Kavanaugh's potential Supreme Court confirmation blew into New Hampshire Monday, as Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a key player in the confirmation hearings, arrived at Saint Anselm College to give a speech warning about “tribalism” in politics.

Flake’s speech was scheduled before he landed at the center of Kavanaugh’s fate on the Supreme Court. Last Friday, Flake pushed for a week-long pause in the hearings so the FBI could investigate the sexual assault allegations from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

NHPR File Photo

New charges were filed Monday in connection with the state's probe into reported misconduct at St. Paul's School.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's office is alleging 28-year-old Stephanie O'Connell made false statements to the grand jury tasked with investigating the elite Concord boarding school.

Prosecutors claim O'Connell, of Chicago, lied about her contact with David O. Pook - a former St. Paul's teacher who pled guilty in August to interfering with the investigation.

 

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