Rep. Louise Slaughter (D)
Elected: 1986, 12th term.
Born: Aug. 14, 1929, Harlan Cnty., KY .
Education: U. of KY, B.S. 1951, M.S. 1953.
Family: Married (Robert); 3 children.
Elected office: Monroe Cnty. Legislature, 1976–79; NY Assembly, 1982–86.
Professional Career: Regional coord., Lt. Gov. Mario Cuomo, 1976–79.
The congresswoman from the 28th District is Louise Slaughter, a Democrat elected in 1986 and the chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, which sets the ground rules for debate that can make or break a piece of legislation on the House floor. A coal miner’s daughter and a descendant of Daniel Boone (and a cousin of Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo.), she grew up in Kentucky and still speaks with the accent and distinctive phraseology of the mountains. She wound up in New York in the 1950s when she moved there with her husband. Her involvement in community issues led to a career in government. Slaughter became a staffer for Mario Cuomo when he was lieutenant governor in the 1970s, and she won a seat on the Monroe County legislature in 1976. She was elected to the New York Assembly in 1982. Four years later, she beat one-term conservative Republican Rep. Fred Eckert, 51%-49%, after charging that he did nothing to free Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson, a Rochester native held hostage in Lebanon. She secured what had been a marginal seat by tending carefully to local problems and by winning the support of area businessmen and the local Democrat & Chronicle newspaper.
|Louise Slaughter (D-Ind-WF)||172,655||(78%)||($756,579)|
|David Crimmen (R-C)||48,690||(22%)|
|Louise Slaughter (D-Ind-WF)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (73%), 2004 (73%), 2002 (62%), 2000 (66%), 1998 (65%), 1996 (57%), 1994 (57%), 1992 (55%), 1990 (59%), 1988 (57%), 1986 (51%)
Slaughter, the first woman to chair the Rules Committee, has a solidly liberal voting record. She backs feminist causes and is active on health issues. In 2008, she capped a years-long campaign by winning enactment of her bill to bar discrimination in employment or health insurance based on the use of genetic information. “Americans can finally take advantage of the tremendous potential of genetic research without the fear that their own genetic information will be used against them,” she said. A microbiologist by training, and consistent with the Rochester-area research mindset, Slaughter opposed proposals to ban human cloning and was an outspoken proponent of federal support for embryonic-stem-cell research, which uses excess embryos from in vitro fertilization. In 1991 she was one of the seven women House members who marched on the Senate to protest its treatment of Anita Hill, the law professor who accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
As a loyal lieutenant of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Slaughter became an outspoken critic of Republican policies and the management of the House during 12 years of Republican control. She was among the most outspoken critics of the Republican “culture of corruption,” a prime talking point in Pelosi’s campaign message in 2006. She accused Republicans of “strong-arm tactics” and a “win-at-all-costs mentality” to move legislation. In January 2007, she helped to bring the first legislation to the House floor for the new majority: an overhaul of House rules, largely dictated by Pelosi and her lieutenants. Slaughter hailed the result as “a Congress people can be proud of again.” But Republicans quickly cried foul when Democrats next moved to the floor six bills from their campaign agenda, without committee action and with no opportunity for amendments. Her dismissal of procedural objections led to regular flare-ups with ranking Republican David Dreier of California and other Republicans. But there also has been occasional Democratic criticism of the committee’s strong-arm tactics. Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., in September 2007 voiced “regret” that the Rules Committee had barred Republican amendments to a flood insurance bill. But Pelosi—whom Slaughter termed “the best politician that I have ever seen”—seemed satisfied with her assistance in helping to manage the House.
Slaughter’s ascension to the chairmanship of Rules capped several years of struggle to move up in the Democratic leadership. In 1994, she lost to Barbara Kennelly of Connecticut in the race for vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, and in 1996 she was defeated by John Spratt of South Carolina for the ranking Democrat post on the Budget Committee. She became the ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee in 2005.
In 2002, redistricting was a perils-of-Pauline nightmare for Slaughter. Sluggish population growth meant that upstate New York had to lose one congressional district, and after much political maneuvering, Slaughter was placed in the same district with Democratic Rep. John LaFalce, the party’s ranking member on the Banking Committee. Luckily for Slaughter, LaFalce decided to retire. In the general election that year, she campaigned on much new territory, but most of it was Democratic. She won 73% of the vote in Monroe County and 60% in Erie County, for a 62%-38% victory against an inexperienced Republican challenger.