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Democrat

Sen. Kay Hagan (D)

Kay Hagan Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-224-6342

Address: 521 DSOB, DC 20510

Kay Hagan Biography
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  • Elected: 2008, term expires 2014, 1st term.
  • State: North Carolina
  • Born: May. 26, 1953, Shelby
  • Home: Greensboro
  • Education:

    FL St. U., B.A. 1975; Wake Forest U., J.D. 1978

  • Professional Career:

    Lawyer; Banker

  • Political Career:

    NC Senate, 1999-2008

  • Religion:

    Presbyterian

  • Family: Married (Chip); 3 children

Democrat Kay Hagan is North Carolina’s junior senator and is known as a cautious centrist who steers clear of hot-button issues. She was elected in 2008 and is considered to be among the most vulnerable members of her party up for reelection in 2014. Read More

Democrat Kay Hagan is North Carolina’s junior senator and is known as a cautious centrist who steers clear of hot-button issues. She was elected in 2008 and is considered to be among the most vulnerable members of her party up for reelection in 2014.

Hagan was born in Shelby in Cleveland County. When she was a child, her parents moved to Lakeland, Fla. Her father, Joe Ruthven, worked in the tire business, was a real estate broker, and was elected mayor of Lakeland. There were other political influences in her life. Her uncle was Lawton Chiles, who was a state senator from Lakeland in the 1960s, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1970, and went on to become Florida governor in 1990. Hagan helped out in Chiles’ campaigns and also interned in his Senate office in the 1970s.

Hagan graduated from Florida State and then went to law school at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, where she met her husband, Chip Hagan. After graduation they moved to his hometown, Greensboro, where she worked as an attorney in the trust department at NationsBank (now Bank of America). After their third child was born, she was a stay-at-home mom and got involved in civic affairs—the Greensboro Coliseum, the Greensboro Day School—and Democratic politics. In 1992 and 1996, she was Greensboro chairman for Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt’s campaigns. In 1998, Hunt persuaded her to run for the state Senate, convincing her that she could balance her kids’ soccer practices and Scout meetings with political life.

With campaign help from Chiles, Hagan defeated an incumbent Republican. Once in Raleigh, she befriended Democratic Senate President Marc Basnight, who became her mentor, giving her important committee posts. Hagan was able to secure money for several projects in her district, including funding for the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, the International Furnishings Market, and Center City Park. As a senator, she cast votes in favor of a state lottery, a two-year moratorium on executions, and financial incentives for corporations to create new jobs.

In 2007, Hunt and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer of New York pressed Hagan to challenge Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole. She at first declined, but then capitulated. In a five-way May primary, Hagan won with 60% of the vote. Still, Dole was the clear favorite. She had raised nearly $10 million, far more than Hagan.

But Dole had also spent much of 2005 and 2006 traveling around the country on behalf of GOP candidates as the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and she had spent little time in North Carolina until the May 2008 primary. Hagan seized on this, accusing Dole of being a Washington insider and promising to give her a pair of ruby red slippers to send her to her husband Bob Dole’s home state of Kansas. By October, Hagan was consistently leading Dole in polls. With a week to go, Dole ran an ad attacking Hagan for attending a fundraiser at the Massachusetts home of one of the leaders of the Godless Americans Political Action Committee, a group opposed to Christmas as a national holiday. The announcer said, “Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money. What did Hagan promise in return?” Hagan, citing her experience as a Sunday school teacher and a Presbyterian elder, said Dole should be “ashamed” of the ad, and polling suggested the ad didn’t help Dole. Hagan won 53%-44%.

In the Senate, Hagan's voting record has put her squarely in the middle of the chamber's members. She joined a working group of fiscally conservative senators in search of a political middle ground. “We have a Congress now that is kind of divided, and I want to be one of the ones that helps bring people together,” she told National Journal. She told an audience in April 2009 that Obama’s spending path in the face of projected growing deficits was “completely unsustainable and unacceptable.” In December 2010, she opposed the tax-cut deal that Obama cut with Republicans because it added $858 billion to the national debt. She told The News & Observer of Raleigh in January 2013 that she was “a big believer” in the work of fellow North Carolinian Erskine Bowles’ and former Wyoming GOP Sen. Alan Simpson’s deficit-cutting commission. She was one of just four Democrats that March to oppose her party’s fiscal 2014 budget blueprint, which called for a tax increase and spending cuts that would still leave a $566 billion annual deficit.

Hagan broke from her party on other issues as well. She teamed with her Republican North Carolina colleague Richard Burr to oppose efforts to let the Food and Drug Administration regulate tobacco, an important Tar Heel State crop, and joined Republicans in opposing a measure to allow debate on the DREAM Act giving some children of illegal immigrants a potential path to citizenship. She also collaborated with Republicans on legislation to ensure that biologic drugs—those derived from proteins, rather than chemicals—get a longer exclusivity period before generic competition than many Democrats wanted.

She largely has shied away from immersing herself in volatile social issues, but one exception has been gay rights. Hagan forcefully opposed a May 2012 referendum banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina, which had gained nationwide attention. On gun control, she often touts her credentials as a member of a family of hunters, and she co-chairs the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. She and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski crafted a sportsmen's bill that expanded the reach of shooting ranges on federal lands while exempting lead bullets from federal regulations. That measure failed to advance in July 2014 in the face of GOP opposition over offering amendments. However, she supported the background check proposal put forward by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. in April 2013.

Hagan sought to juggle the pressures of representing the second-biggest banking state with her own support for stronger consumer protection regulation. She helped carve out an exception for USAA—an insurance provider to more than 350,000 military families in North Carolina—from proprietary trading restrictions in the so-called Volcker Rule. In June 2011, an amendment came up in the Senate to delay new rules limiting debit-card fees that banks can charge merchants. In a role reversal, Hagan supported the banks’ position and voted for a delay of the new fee limits, while her colleague Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. voted against it. The amendment failed to garner 60 votes, and the new debit-card fee limits went into effect. The Senate unanimously passed her bill to allow state regulators to access a national mortgage system database without compromising confidentiality protections.

Hagan has also focused on job training and the high-tech sector. She re-introduced a bill in June 2011 to establish a credentialing system to match qualified workers with high-tech industries. However, one of her innovation-friendly bills, the Computer Professionals Update Act, engendered significant opposition in early 2012. The bill would update the Fair Labor Standards Act and exempt some high-tech workers from receiving overtime pay. It was fiercely opposed by the Department for Professional Employees, an AFL-CIO affiliate. In October 2011, Hagan co-sponsored a bill with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. cutting corporate taxes on overseas profits, with greater reductions for businesses that expand payrolls in the U.S.

On other issues, Hagan introduced a job-training bill in 2013; some of its elements were included in bipartisan legislation that passed the Senate in July 2014. She and Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe got a measure through the Senate in 2013 ensuring that military service members did not lose tuition assistance because of sequestration.

North Carolina’s rightward lean—in 2012 it backed Republican Mitt Romney for president after supporting Barack Obama four years earlier and was the only state to replace a Democratic governor with a Republican one—portended a tough battle for Hagan in 2014. Outside groups such as the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity went at her early, spending an estimated $18 million against her through July on ads that sought to tie her to an unpopular Obama. Democratic groups coming to her aid spent an estimated $11 million through that period.

She drew a formidable opponent in state House Speaker Thom Tillis, a former IBM executive who—with substantial support from the GOP establishment—prevailed over tea party-backed candidates in a contentious May primary. But Tillis came with his own baggage, as he presided over a chamber that riled moderate voters by passing a number of controversial right-leaning measures, including restrictions on abortion facilities and the elimination of teacher tenure. In his first ad after winning the primary, he emphasized his working-class roots over his legislative accomplishments while accusing Hagan of harming people in that demographic.

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Kay Hagan Election Results
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2008 General
Kay Hagan (D)
Votes: 2,249,311
Percent: 52.65%
Spent: $8,557,412
Elizabeth Dole
Votes: 1,887,510
Percent: 44.18%
Spent: $19,508,712
Christopher Cole
Votes: 133,430
Percent: 3.12%
2008 Primary
Kay Hagan (D)
Votes: 801,920
Percent: 60.07%
Jim Neal
Votes: 239,623
Percent: 17.95%
Marcus Williams
Votes: 170,970
Percent: 12.81%
Kay Hagan Votes and Bills
Back to top NJ Vote Ratings

National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 47 (L) : 51 (C) 58 (L) : 37 (C) 56 (L) : 41 (C)
Social 51 (L) : 48 (C) 49 (L) : 48 (C) 52 (L) : - (C)
Foreign 48 (L) : 51 (C) 53 (L) : 43 (C) 76 (L) : 17 (C)
Composite 49.3 (L) : 50.7 (C) 55.3 (L) : 44.7 (C) 71.0 (L) : 29.0 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC140
LCV10079
CFG716
ITIC-63
NTU1212
20112012
COC40-
ACLU-75
ACU512
ADA9585
AFSCME100-
Key Senate Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Block faith exemptions
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve gas pipeline
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve farm bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Let cyber bill proceed
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Block Gitmo transfers
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass balanced budget amendment
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Stop EPA climate regulations
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Proceed to Cordray vote
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Require talking filibuster
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Limit Fannie/Freddie
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Ratify New START
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Confirm Elena Kagan
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop EPA climate regs
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Block release of TARP funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $787 billion stimulus
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Repeal DC gun laws
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Confirm Sonia Sotomayor
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar budget rules for climate bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass 2010 budget resolution
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Let judges adjust mortgages
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow FDA to regulate tobacco
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Protect gays from hate crimes
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Cut F-22 funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Label North Korea terrorist state
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Build Guantanamo replacement
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow federal funds for abortion
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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