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Democrat

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D)

Carolyn McCarthy Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-225-5516

Address: 2346 RHOB, DC 20515

Carolyn McCarthy Committees
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Carolyn McCarthy Biography
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  • Elected: 1996, 9th term.
  • District: New York 4
  • Born: Jan. 05, 1944, Brooklyn
  • Home: Mineola
  • Education:

    Glen Cove Nursing Schl., L.P.N. 1964

  • Professional Career:

    Nurse, 1964–93; Gun control activist, 1993–96.

  • Religion:

    Catholic

  • Family: Widowed; 1 children

Democrat Carolyn McCarthy, first elected in 1996, is known as the House’s leading advocate for gun control, although she has branched out to work on education and health care. Her profile had receded with Republicans controlling the House and adamantly opposed to any new gun laws, but the Newtown, Conn., school massacre and subsequent mass shootings put her back into the spotlight. She announced in January 2014 that she wouldn't seek another term. Read More

Democrat Carolyn McCarthy, first elected in 1996, is known as the House’s leading advocate for gun control, although she has branched out to work on education and health care. Her profile had receded with Republicans controlling the House and adamantly opposed to any new gun laws, but the Newtown, Conn., school massacre and subsequent mass shootings put her back into the spotlight. She announced in January 2014 that she wouldn't seek another term.

McCarthy was born in Brooklyn, trained as a nurse, and then married and raised a family on Long Island. Originally, she was a Republican, but her life and politics changed dramatically in 1993. That year, her husband, Dennis, a stockbroker, was killed and her adult son, Kevin, was seriously injured in the “Long Island Railroad Massacre.” A gunman opened fire on passengers riding a commuter train as it crossed the Nassau County line. McCarthy spoke movingly at the killer’s trial, and her strength in tragedy won many admirers. She began campaigning for gun control laws and, in 1995, lobbied her congressman, Republican Daniel Frisa, to vote against repeal of the assault weapons ban.

After Frisa voted for repeal, McCarthy inquired about running against him in the GOP primary. When Nassau County Republicans discouraged her, Democrats who had been eyeing the seat for some time recruited her. Initially, McCarthy knew little about politics, but she learned quickly. As the Democratic nominee, she called for stricter gun laws and attacked Frisa as too close to Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Frisa abruptly stopped campaigning the week before the election, did not show up at his Election Night party, and never made a concession statement. McCarthy won 57%-41%.

In the House, McCarthy has a voting record that mingles strong support for organized labor and abortion rights with occasional conservative stances. In the 112th Congress (2011-12), she went against the majority of Democrats to support House-passed bills calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve, banning public funding of political conventions, and reauthorizing the law that legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. Earlier, she backed the use of force in Iraq in 2002 and, in 2006, voted for legislation to build a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On gun issues, however, McCarthy has remained committed to liberal positions. She has called for childproof locks on handguns, fines for parents of children who get possession of handguns, and mandatory jail terms for crimes committed with guns. After the shooting of her Arizona Democratic colleague Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011, McCarthy unveiled legislation to outlaw high-capacity magazines like the one that was used to shoot Giffords and 20 other people in a matter of seconds. Former Vice President Dick Cheney expressed support for the idea, but it went nowhere.

In the wake of the Newtown shootings, in which 20 children and six adults were slain, gun control became a front-burner Democratic issue. McCarthy spoke passionately at a January 2013 news conference to reintroduce her bill banning those magazines as well as so-called military assault weapons, “I’ve watched the slaughter of so many people, and I’ve met with so many victims over the years, and in Congress nobody wanted to touch the issue,” she said. “The last several years, the massacres were going on more and more. And going through it, I kept saying, ‘What’s wrong with all of us? How many people have to be killed before we do something?’’’

McCarthy has scored a few legislative victories on guns. The House approved her bill to help states gain more access to the federal background check system for gun buyers. The 2002 sniper spree in the Washington, D.C., area gave her the opening to gain approval in the House of her bill to strengthen laws prohibiting the mentally ill from buying guns and requiring states to file records with the national background check system. Following the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, she got through another bill requiring states to turn over mental health records to the FBI.

She also has broadened her portfolio, using her experience as a mother and nurse to become active in education and health care. She has repeatedly introduced a bill banning schools from using corporal punishment. In 2002, President George W. Bush signed her bill giving incentives to hospitals to hire more nurses to remedy acute shortages. She was the House sponsor in 2009 of the successful Serve America Act, which had been sponsored in the Senate by the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and tripled the number of federally supported volunteers to 250,000.

McCarthy had a tougher than usual reelection in 2002, when she was challenged by ophthalmologist Marilyn O’Grady, a Republican who took a hard line on terrorism and immigration and opposed abortion rights. Although O’Grady received little party support, she held McCarthy to a 56%-43% victory. In the next three elections, McCarthy was reelected easily. She strongly criticized the appointment of Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York. She cited Gillibrand’s “awful” record on gun control and indicated that she would challenge Gillibrand in the 2010 primary. She ultimately withdrew for “personal reasons,” which she later clarified was back surgery that required her to wear a brace for months.

McCarthy’s 2010 race was her closest in more than a decade. Francis Becker, a former Nassau County GOP legislator, campaigned with an anti-Washington, anti-Obama message that forced McCarthy to compete more vigorously. She ran ads harshly criticizing Becker for several of the stands he took as a county official, and she won 54%-46%.

McCarthy announced in June 2013 that she had lung cancer and subsequently underwent chemotherapy. In an interview with The New York Times six months later, she noted the emergence of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as high-profile spokespeople for gun control. “With, unfortunately, my diagnosis of cancer, and I just turned 70 on Sunday, it’s time for their voices to be heard,” she said.

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Carolyn McCarthy Election Results
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2012 General
Carolyn McCarthy (D)
Votes: 163,955
Percent: 61.81%
Francis Becker
Votes: 85,693
Percent: 32.31%
Frank Scaturro (C)
Votes: 15,603
Percent: 5.88%
2012 Primary
Carolyn McCarthy (D)
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (54%), 2008 (64%), 2006 (65%), 2004 (63%), 2002 (56%), 2000 (61%), 1998 (53%), 1996 (57%)
Carolyn McCarthy Votes and Bills
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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 - (L) : - (C) 67 (L) : 33 (C) 68 (L) : 31 (C)
Social - (L) : - (C) 65 (L) : 34 (C) 70 (L) : 30 (C)
Foreign - (L) : - (C) 60 (L) : 40 (C) 61 (L) : 39 (C)
Composite - (L) : - (C) 64.2 (L) : 35.8 (C) 66.5 (L) : 33.5 (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
FRC00
LCV8689
CFG317
ITIC-75
NTU1014
20112012
COC44-
ACLU-76
ACU08
ADA6565
AFSCME100-
Key House 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.

    • Pass GOP budget
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Extend payroll tax cut
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Stop student loan hike
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Repeal health care
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass cut, cap, balance
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Defund Planned Parenthood
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Repeal lightbulb ban
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Add endangered listings
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop detainee transfers
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote:
    • Year: 2010
    • Limit campaign funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $820 billion stimulus
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Let guns in national parks
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass cap-and-trade
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar federal abortion funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Bail out financial markets
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Repeal D.C. gun law
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2008
    • Overhaul FISA
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Increase minimum wage
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Expand SCHIP
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Raise CAFE standards
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Share immigration data
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Foreign aid abortion ban
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Ban gay bias in workplace
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Withdraw troops 8/08
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • No operations in Iran
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Free trade with Peru
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
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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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