In 1976 Mary Louise ran for the state senate and became the first Democrat and first woman to represent Concord's District 15 in the Senate, and she won! She served two terms in the state senate, until she accepted a federal appointment..

She advocated affordable housing, increased welfare payments for single mothers, environmental protection and statewide growth control, ways to address child abuse and domestic violence, and the rights of the handicapped.

She has long been at odds with those who would assign government a minimal role in the area of social welfare. "Live free or die," she says, shaking her head. "What the hell does that mean? John Stark said that in 1809 at a Revolutionary War reunion with people from the Battle of Bennington. He probably wasn't sober when he said it." "There's a mentality in New Hampshire that localities and volunteer efforts can take care of the poor, that there is no opportunity for the unfortunate. That just ain't so. You have to have consistency. You can't depend on the church and charitable organizations to undertake the obligations of the government. Government exists to do those things which people can't do for themselves."

Her proudest moment was turning the lights back on with Gov. Hugh J. Gallen, after the "dark years" of Gov. Meldrim Thompson and his gang.

Whenever state senators droned on and on in long-winded speeches, Hancock would casually toss a paper airplane in their direction. She has been quoted as saying of public servants, especially those who take themselves too seriously, "None of us are very important."

The Concord Monitor editorialized: "We think one of the reasons the Senate racked up a moderately good record this year was because Miss Hancock embarrassed her philosophical opponents into doing what was right. She's a diamond in a coal field of politics. ... She's a mover and a shaker who knows the innards of bureaucracy like the palm of her hand."