I’ve often defended Kelly Ayotte, but I have to admit that one may have a hard time trying to reconcile her looks and her demeanor with her record… “This is that tough as nails, ace prosecutor that everyone fears? She looks more like a pre-school teacher.”

But Kelly is tough and that is part of her appeal in the granite state. Outsiders may not understand her popularity because they do not know the person. Kelly has generated a tremendous amount of good will in her home state for her grisly work as a prosecutor. As noted in the Union Leader:

To read accounts of Ayotte’s work over the next couple years is to descend the depths of human depravity and murder most foul… Ayotte’s job included attending autopsies and going to scenes “where there are very difficult things to see. You never lose an appreciation for the horrible nature of the cases or the impact they have on the families involved,” Ayotte reflected.

Among the cases Ayotte helped prosecute were the three youths who butchered two teens at Salem’s Hedgehog Park; a deliberate drowning in a Somersworth pond; Vaclav Plch for murdering a Manchester woman and dismembering her with a saw; James Dale for raping and suffocating a 6-year-old Hopkinton girl in her own bed; and the double murder of Dartmouth professors Half and Susanne Zantop. In 2008, Ayotte secured the capital conviction of Michael Addison for slaying Manchester police officer Michael Briggs.

The 2002 Zantop convictions earned Ayotte a $1,000 raise. During her 11 years as a public prosecutor, Ayotte must have turned down opportunities to double or triple her salary by joining a private law firm.

Kelly made a habit of turning down higher paying, less stressful jobs. She loved the Attorney General’s Office and she loved the work. When she joined the Attorney General’s Office, she was the youngest prosecutor on the staff at the age of 29. Six years later, she was Attorney General of New Hampshire. In a field where many attorneys struggle, grow bitter or burn out, Kelly thrived.

This diary is about Kelly, but its also a diary in support of due diligence. Conservative activists must select candidates wisely. Being a conservative may be the most important criteria, but its not the only criteria. Picking the best candidate requires more than a cursory examination of position papers.

Kelly’s work speaks volumes about her character and the people of New Hampshire have noticed. If you want to know someone, listen the people who know them most intimately. Sometimes, the locals know best. There is a reason this mother of two is soaring in New Hampshire. Trust me, she’s a lot tougher than she looks: