Steny Hoyer

Steny Hamilton Hoyer (born June 14, 1939) is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Maryland's 5th congressional district since 1981. On November 16, 2006, Hoyer was elected as House Majority Leader over John Murtha of Pennsylvania. He is the first Marylander to become Majority Leader.

Early life and family

Hoyer was born in New York City but grew up in Mitchellville, Maryland. His heritage is Danish; "Steny" is a variant of his father's name, "Steen, and Hoyer is an anglicized form of the fairly common Danish surname Høyer. He graduated from Suitland High School in Suitland, Maryland. In 1963, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He later earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. in 1966. In the 1960s, Hoyer interned for Senator Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland), along with current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Hoyer has three daughters: Susan, Stefany, and Anne from his marriage to his wife, Judy Pickett Hoyer - who died in 1997. Hoyer also has two granddaughters, one grandson and a great-granddaughter (born on November 2, 2006). His wife was an advocate of early childhood education, and child development learning centers in Maryland have been named in her honor ("Judy Centers"). She also suffered from epilepsy, and the Epilepsy Foundation of America sponsors an annual public lecture in her name. Hoyer, too, has been an advocate for research in this area, and the Epilepsy Foundation presented him in 2002 with their Congressional Leadership Award.

Hoyer also serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Maryland Senate career

In 1966, Hoyer won a seat in the Maryland State Senate, representing Prince George's County, Maryland. In 1975, Hoyer was elected President of the Maryland State Senate, the youngest in state history. In 1978, Hoyer sought the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland but lost out to Samuel Bogley. In the same year Hoyer was appointed to the Maryland Board of Higher Education, a position he served in until 1981.

Career in the House of Representatives

Ascent to Majority Leader

In 1981, Maryland Representative Gladys Spellman fell into a coma and her seat was declared vacant. Hoyer defeated Spellman's husband in the primary election, and then defeated a better funded Republican candidate in the general election, earning himself the nickname of "boy wonder".

Hoyer has served as chair of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-ranking position among House of Representatives Democrats, from 1989 to 1994; the former co-chair (and a current member) of the Democratic Steering Committee; and as the chief candidate recruiter for House Democrats from 1995 to 2000. He also served as Deputy Majority Whip from 1987 to 1989. On November 14, 2002, Hoyer was unanimously elected by his colleagues in the Democratic Caucus to serve as the House Democratic Minority Whip, the second-highest-ranking position among House Democrats. Now as the Democratic Majority Leader he is the highest-ranking member of Congress in Maryland history, and the longest-serving House member from Southern Maryland in history.

Nancy Pelosi became the Speaker of the House in January 2007. Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, was elected by his colleagues to be House Majority Leader for the 110th Congress. He was successful in his bid for the leadership position against fellow Democrat John Murtha of Pennsylvania by a margin of 149-86 within the caucus.

Campaign fundraising

Hoyer is a prolific fundraiser for House Democrats. He is the top giver to fellow party members in the House. He has given over $1 million to the party and individual candidates over the current election cycle as of July 14th, 2008, according to CQ Moneyline.

In March 2007, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Hoyer's political action committee "raised nearly $1 million for congressional candidates [in the 2006 election cycle] by exploiting what experts call a legal loophole." The Center reported:

Campaign finance disclosure records show that the Maryland Democrat used his leadership political action committee — AmeriPAC — as a conduit to collect bundles of checks from individuals, and from business and union interests. He then passed more than $960,000 along to 53 House candidates and another quarter of a million to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, data compiled from the Center for Responsive Politics Web site show.

Federal law generally prohibits political action committees, including leadership PACs, which are run by politicians, from receiving more than $5,000 each year from a single donor or giving more than $10,000 to a single candidate ($5,000 each for the primary and the general election). But Hoyer collected as much as $136,000 from one labor union committee and distributed more than $86,000 to a single Congressional race.

The only media to cover the report, the Capital News Service (Maryland), quickly pointed out how common and legal the practice is:

"That's like saying somebody who deducts mortgage interest on their taxes is exploiting a tax loophole," said Nathaniel Persily, a campaign finance expert and University of Pennsylvania Law School professor. "What exactly is the problem?"

"Bundling is very common," said Steve Weisman, of the George Washington University's Campaign Finance Institute.

What Hoyer, a lawyer, did was perfectly legal, the Federal Election Commission said, too. In fact, his insistence on detailed reporting made tracking the funds easier.

2008 election

Hoyer will face anti-war Republican Collins Bailey in the November 2008 election.

Position on domestic issues

  • Abortion: Hoyer is pro-choice.
  • Social Issues: He voted against the Partial-Abortion ban bill in 2003. Hoyer supports affirmative action and gay rights.
  • Gun Rights: Hoyer opposes unrestricted gun ownership.
  • Privacy: Hoyer claimed to oppose providing immunity to telecom companies but has come under fire for negotiating a bill, described by Senators Patrick Leahy and Russ Feingold as a "capitulation", that would provide immunity to any telecom company that had been told by the Bush administration that their actions were legal. “No matter how they spin it, this is still immunity,” said Kevin Bankston, a senior lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy rights group that has sued over President Bush's wiretapping program. “It’s not compromise, it’s pure theater.”
  • Taxes: Hoyer favors progressive taxation.

Position on international affairs

  • India: Hoyer supports civilian nuclear cooperation with India.
  • Iraq: Hoyer initially supported the Iraq War and was even recognized by the DLC for his vocal leadership on this issue. After the war became publicly unpopular, Hoyer said he favored a "responsible redeployment". However, he has repeatedly supported legislation to continue funding for the war without deadlines for troop withdrawal, most recently in return for increased funding of domestic projects.
  • Israel: Hoyer is a supporter of Israel, and has often been allied with American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In September 2007, he criticized Rep. Jim Moran for suggesting that AIPAC "has pushed (the Iraq) war from the beginning," calling the comment "factually inaccurate." .
  • Iran: Hoyer has stated that a nuclear Iran is "unacceptable" and that the use of force remains an option.
  • Human Rights: Hoyer is a former chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and a vocal supporter of human rights around the world.

Election history

Election history of Steny Hoyer:
Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1981 Congress, 5th district Special

Steny Hoyer Democratic N/A 55 N/A N/A N/A N/A
1982 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 83,937 79.58 William Guthrie Republican 21,533 20.42
1984 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 116,310 72.18 John Ritchie Republican 44,839 27.82
1986 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 82,098 81.93 John Sellner Republican 18,102 18.07
1988 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 128,437 78.63 John Sellner Republican 34,909 21.37
1990 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 84,747 80.66 Lee Breuer Republican 20,314 19.34
1992 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 118,312 94.39 Other (no major opposition) 7,032 5.6
1994 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 98,821 58.81 Donald Devine Republican 69,211 41.19
1996 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 121,288 56.92 John S. Morgan Republican 91,806 43.08
1998 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 126,792 65.37 Robert Ostrom Republican 67,176 34.36
2000 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 166,231 65.09 Thomas Hutchins Republican 89,019 34.86
2002 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 137,903 69.27 Joseph Crawford Republican 60,758 30.52
2004 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 204,867 68.67 Brad Jewitt Republican 87,189 29.93 Bob Auerbach Green 4,224 1.42
2006 Congress, 5th district General

Steny Hoyer Democratic 168,114 82.69 Steve Warner Green 33,464 16.46 Write Ins: P.Kuhnert and Other Write-Ins





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