Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1998, 8th term.

Born: July 22, 1948, Hartford, CT

Home: East Hartford, CT

Education: Central CT St. U., B.S. 1971

Professional Career: H.S. teacher, 1972-77; Insurance broker, 1977-98; Sr. fellow, Yale Bush Ctr., 1995-1998.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Catholic

Family: Married (Leslie Best) , 3 children

Democrat John Larson, first elected in 1998, is an influential figure in the House Democratic Party, popular with colleagues and active on the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. He was the chairman of the Democratic Caucus until 2012, when he had to give up the No. 3-ranking minority leadership post because of term limits.

One of eight children, Larson grew up in the Mayberry Village public-housing project in East Hartford, and is fond of saying that he is a “product of public housing, public education, and public service.” His father was a fireman at Pratt & Whitney and also worked as an auto mechanic and butcher. His mother had a job at the state Capitol and served on the town council. Speaking at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, he said that his mother had dementia and required round-the-clock care, paid for in part through her Social Security benefits. “Don’t ever tell me or any American that’s a handout,” he said. “It’s the insurance they paid for.” Larson’s politics are a product of his upbringing. Family members benefited from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and were great admirers of their fellow Irish Catholic, President John F. Kennedy. He says that he doesn’t believe in big government or small government, but the “effective use of government on behalf of the people you are sworn to serve.”

Teachers had a great influence on his life, and after graduating from Central Connecticut State University, Larson taught high school and coached athletics. He also worked in the hometown industry as an insurance agent. In 1982, at age 34, Larson was elected to the state Senate. The Republican landslide in 1984 wiped out half of the Democratic seats in the Senate, and Larson led a successful effort two years later to regain a Democratic majority, which earned him a promotion to Senate president. He sponsored one of the nation’s first family medical leave laws, a prototype for the federal bill sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Larson seemed headed for the governorship and, in 1994, won the party designation at the state convention. But Comptroller Bill Curry built an organization of unionists and liberal activists and beat him 55%-45% in the primary. When Democratic U.S. Rep. Barbara Kennelly (the daughter of state Democratic boss John Bailey) decided to run for governor in 1998, Larson ran for her seat.

In the primary, he faced Secretary of State Miles Rapoport, who led in the polls and fundraising. But Larson raised impressive sums as well, built a local organization, campaigned door-to-door, and got help from Hartford Mayor Mike Peters. He won 46%-43%. In the general election, he competed against Kevin O’Connor, a 31-year-old former law clerk and Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer who was endorsed by the Hartford Courant. Larson won 58%-41% and has not been seriously challenged since. He has been able to donate campaign funds generously to colleagues, one of the ways in which he has become popular.

Larson’s voting record places him near the center of his party. After Republicans regained the majority in 2011, he chided them for preaching for balancing budgets but also giving businesses breaks from import tariffs, which saved local manufacturers hundreds of thousands of dollars in duties but also cost the U.S. Treasury hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue every year. But he doesn’t hesitate to work with Republicans on legislation—with Texas’ Kevin Brady on a measure to make permanent a research and development tax credit; with Louisiana’s Charles Boustany on a bill to allow individuals to get back at the end of the year any unused funds in their medical savings accounts; and with Texas’ Pete Sessions on a measure aimed at ensuring improved Medicare reimbursement for ambulatory surgical centers.

Among his legislative interests are issues related to campaign finance and election reform. In 2009, Larson introduced a bill with Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. that would allow the federal government to match $400 for every $100 raised by a candidate who agrees to accept contributions of only $100 or less. He introduced a similar measure in 2011 that attracted more than 100 Democratic cosponsors but no Republican support. He also has proposed a constitutional amendment that would give members of the House four-year terms with elections staggered every two years. Longer terms would make legislators more effective by allowing them to spend less time campaigning, Larson says.

In 2003, Larson became the senior Democrat on the House Administration Committee, the congressional housekeeping panel that handles office space assignments and other perks of interest to colleagues. Then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi brought Larson into her circle of advisers, and his influence grew. In 2006, he won a hotly contested race for Democratic Caucus vice chairman. His competitors were the better-known Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Joseph Crowley of New York. When Schakowsky finished third on the first ballot and was eliminated, she threw her support to Larson. With Schakowsky’s former supporters, Larson prevailed on the second ballot 116-87 over Crowley, who was allied with Maryland’s Steny Hoyer, Pelosi’s arch rival in leadership.

In 2007, Larson planned to run for caucus chairman, but stepped aside when it became clear that Rahm Emanuel of Illinois had locked up support for the job. When Emanuel quit the House in November 2008 to become chief of staff to President-elect Barack Obama, then-Speaker Pelosi persuaded Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to remain as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, clearing the field for Larson to finally become caucus chairman.

Larson took on a number of assignments for Pelosi, including dealing with party dissidents who complained that Pelosi’s Iraq strategy was too accommodating to President George W. Bush and later coordinating the Democrats’ 2008 strategy on energy policy. In 2010, along with most House Democrats, Larson supported the party’s health care overhaul, portraying it to members before the final vote as an historic achievement on par with creation of the Medicare and Social Security programs and with passage of the Civil Rights Act. Some Democrats privately derided him as Pelosi’s cheerleader, but he shrugged off such comments, saying that his “bottom-up, member’s member” approach was very different from the imperious style Emanuel was known for, but no less effective.

When Democrats lost control of the House in 2010, Pelosi became minority leader and Larson remained as caucus chairman. He drew scorn from conservatives when he likened the Occupy Wall Street protests to the Arab Spring grassroots movements in the Middle East. In 2011, he handled messaging for Obama’s unsuccessful jobs plan, introducing the bill in the House along with related measures and leading a rally to call for a vote. But the caucus chairmanship position had a four-year limit, and because Democrats did not reclaim the majority in November 2012, there was no place for Larson to move up. He yielded to California’s Xavier Becerra, the vice chairman. He said that in addition to his role on Ways and Means, he will continue to serve as a mentor to younger members.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2265

(202) 225-1031

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1501
Washington, DC 20515-0701

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2265

(202) 225-1031

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1501
Washington, DC 20515-0701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-2265

(202) 225-1031

221 Main Street 2nd Floor
Hartford, CT 06106-1864

DISTRICT OFFICE

(860) 278-8888

(860) 278-2111

221 Main Street 2nd Floor
Hartford, CT 06106-1864

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 225-2265

(202) 225-1031

1887 Old Main Street
East Hartford, CT 06108

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

1887 Old Main Street
East Hartford, CT 06108

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Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Agriculture

Sylvia Lee
Legislative Assistant

sylvia.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Animal Rights

Geraldine de Puy
Deputy Chief of Staff

Appropriations

David Sitcovsky
Legislative Director

Budget

David Sitcovsky
Legislative Director

Census

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Congress

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Disaster

Srdan Banjac
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Sylvia Lee
Legislative Assistant

sylvia.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Foreign

Srdan Banjac
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Srdan Banjac
Legislative Assistant

Sylvia Lee
Legislative Assistant

sylvia.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Gun Issues

Sylvia Lee
Legislative Assistant

sylvia.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Health

David Sitcovsky
Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Srdan Banjac
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Sylvia Lee
Legislative Assistant

sylvia.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Human Rights

Sylvia Lee
Legislative Assistant

sylvia.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Immigration

Maureen Moriarty
District Director

Gladys Mercado
District Aide

Srdan Banjac
Legislative Assistant

Intergovernmental

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Land Use

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Medicare

David Sitcovsky
Legislative Director

Military

Lee Slater
Chief of Staff

lee.slater@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Native Americans

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Rules

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Science

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Sylvia Lee
Legislative Assistant

sylvia.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Social Security

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Tax

David Sitcovsky
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Lee Slater
Chief of Staff

lee.slater@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Sylvia Lee
Legislative Assistant

sylvia.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2265

Transportation

Scott Stephanou
Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Srdan Banjac
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
John Larson
Votes: 135,134
Percent: 62.2%
Matthew Corey
Votes: 78,469
Percent: 36.12%
2012 GENERAL
John Larson
Votes: 206,973
Percent: 69.67%
John Decker
Votes: 82,321
Percent: 27.71%
2012 PRIMARY
John Larson
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
John Larson
Votes: 138,440
Percent: 61.25%
Ann Brickley
Votes: 84,076
Percent: 37.2%
2010 PRIMARY
John Larson
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
John Larson
Votes: 211,493
Percent: 71.56%
Joe Visconti
Votes: 76,860
Percent: 26.01%
2008 PRIMARY
John Larson
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (61%), 2008 (72%), 2006 (74%), 2004 (73%), 2002 (67%), 2000 (72%), 1998 (58%)

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