The remarkable story of Haddock, better known as Granny D, will be told in a new documentary, “Run Granny Run,” premiering Thursday on HBO.
Directed and produced by Marlo Poras, “Run Granny Run” delivers an intimate and infectious portrait of “America’s oldest political newcomer,” a political activist turned candidate in New Hampshire who most recently challenged Sen. Judd Gregg (R) in 2004.
When Poras first began filming Haddock in the spring of 2004, she planned on following her on the voter registration drive through the election. She thought she’d “make a road trip movie with an unlikely heroine, and we’d get a view of America in a pivotal election year through her eyes.”
“Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think this [journey] would turn into a campaign film. But when Doris unexpectedly jumped into the electoral ring, I knew I was on the right path,” Poras said. “Being open to the unexpected and balancing my own vision as a director against the reality of lived life is one of my favorite aspects of documentary filmmaking.”
The film illustrates how Granny D chose to spend her twilight years quite differently from others. Haddock definitely believed age was nothing but a number when, at age 90, she famously walked 3,200 miles across the continental United States from California to New Hampshire, ending in Washington, D.C., to advocate awareness about the implications of special interest groups and corporations contributing to political campaigns, all while refusing to let arthritis and emphysema get in her way.
The liberal crusader was willing to go to such lengths to stand up to what she saw as corruption and an unfair advantage gained by politicians who are willing to take massive sums of money from corporations and other special interest groups.
“I was able to create an interest in campaign finance reform that the power of one is a very important power,” Haddock said. “You have it, you don’t know that you have it, people don’t realize that they want to do something that’s bigger than themselves and thus it becomes a very exciting, interesting life.”
The documentary also follows Haddock at 94 in her unexpected decision to run against incumbent Gregg, becoming the Democratic Senate nominee in her native New Hampshire. She entered just four months before Election Day because the previous Democratic candidate unexpectedly dropped out of the race.
The highlight of “Run Granny Run” is the dramatic lead-up to Haddock’s official debate with Gregg, where the two go head-to-head live on television. The night before, a frail Haddock prays, bent over her bed, saying “Dear God, please don’t let me make a fool of myself tomorrow.” The documentary shows a clearly nervous Haddock expressing her anxiety about never before having debated.
Though Gregg ultimately won the contest with 66 percent of the vote, Haddock expresses satisfaction with the race.