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September 13, 2010

Hannah Pingree

The next Nancy Pelosi

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Hannah Pingree, 33, speaker, Maine House of Representatives

Résumé: Hannah Pingree catapulted into Maine's House of Representatives at 24, fresh off her mom's failed U.S. Senate bid; her district included her home, tiny North Haven island, population 350. At 32, she became the youngest female House Speaker in the U.S. Today, championing clean energy and gay marriage, she's shown there's nothing remotely small-town about her politics — or her ambitions.

Background check: "As a teenager, it was inspiring to see my mom improving Mainers' lives as a state senator [her mom, Chellie Pingree, is now a Maine congresswoman]. I wanted to get involved — I just didn't know I'd do it so young. Then in college, I was the coxswain for Brown's freshman crew team. Yelling at a group of guys was intimidating, but that experience gave me the confidence to assert myself in the mostly male Maine legislature."

Big break: "I wasn't an expert on any issues when I was elected, but I was placed on Maine's state appropriations committee. I asked a lot of questions and made myself the go-to person on certain programs. People started seeing me as a real resource."

What's next: "It helped to start out in politics so early. Even though my legislative term ends this year, I'd love to run again — maybe for Maine's governorship."

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