Kay Hagan: Wikis


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Kay Hagan

Assumed office 
January 3, 2009
Serving with Richard Burr
Preceded by Elizabeth Dole

North Carolina State Senator
from the 27th district
In office
January 29, 2003 – January 6, 2009
Preceded by John Garwood
Succeeded by Don Vaughan

North Carolina State Senator
from the 32nd district
In office
January 27, 1999 – January 29, 2003
Preceded by John Blust
Succeeded by Linda Garrou

Born May 26, 1953 (1953-05-26) (age 56)[1]
Shelby, North Carolina
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Chip Hagan
Residence Greensboro
Alma mater Florida State University,
Wake Forest University
Profession Attorney, Banker
Religion Presbyterian
Website Official Senate website

Kay Ruthven Hagan (pronounced /ˈheɪɡən/; born May 26, 1953)[1] is the junior United States Senator from North Carolina and a member of the Democratic Party. Before her election, she was a five-term member of the North Carolina Senate.

Hagan defeated first-term Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole in the 2008 United States Senate election. She is the second female senator from the state of North Carolina, and the first female Democrat to represent the state in the Senate. She is also the first woman to defeat a female incumbent in a Senate election, and her election makes North Carolina the first state to have elected female senators from more than one political party.


Early life and education

Hagan was born in Shelby, North Carolina, to Joe, a tire salesman, and Jeanette (née Chiles) Ruthven, a homemaker. Both her father and her older brother served in the Navy.[2] She spent most of her childhood in Lakeland, Florida, of which her father later became mayor.[3] She also spent summers on her grandparents' farm in Chesterfield, South Carolina, where she helped string tobacco and harvest watermelons.[1] As a child, Hagan engaged in her earliest political activity: placing bumper stickers on cars for her uncle, Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles. In the 1970s, she was an intern at the Capitol, operating an elevator that carried senators, including her uncle, to and from the Chamber.[1]

She attended Florida State University, earning a Bachelor's degree, and Wake Forest University, where she earned a Juris Doctor. There, she met Chip Hagan, a Vietnam veteran attending Wake Forest with help from the G.I. Bill.[2] They married and she moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, where the Hagan family lived. She then entered private practice as an attorney for North Carolina National Bank (now Bank of America), eventually rising to become Vice President in the estates and trust division. She left the bank upon the birth of her third child in 1986. She also served as the Guilford County manager for Jim Hunt's 1992 and 1996 gubernatorial campaigns.[4]

Personal life

Hagan's husband, a transaction lawyer[5], is worth between $10.7 million and $40 million.[4] The Hagans have three chidren: Jeanette, Tilden, and Carrie.[6]

State legislator

Hagan was first elected to the North Carolina General Assembly as state senator for the 32nd district in 1998; due to redistricting, her constituency later became the 27th district.[1] During the 1998 campaign, her uncle Lawton Chiles walked the district with her. She represented most of central Guilford County, including most of Greensboro.

Serving five terms in the General Assembly, she was the chairwoman of that body's Appropriations Committee and Pensions, Retirement & Aging Committee, and supported legislation raising teachers' salaries and increasing funding for early childhood education.[7] She was known as a "pro-business Democrat" in the state Senate.[4]

2008 U.S. Senate campaign

After Hagan first decided not to run against Elizabeth Dole,[8] the Swing State Project announced on October 26, 2007, that two independent sources had reported that Hagan would, in fact, run.[9] Hagan made her candidacy official on October 30, 2007.[10][11] She defeated investment banker Jim Neal of Chapel Hill, podiatrist Howard Staley of Chatham County, Lexington truck driver Duskin Lassiter, and Lumberton attorney Marcus Williams in the May 2008 Democratic primary.

Hagan at a Democratic campaign rally in 2008

Hagan was initially given little chance against Dole, and she was recruited to the race only after more prominent North Carolina Democrats such as Governor Mike Easley, former Governor Jim Hunt and Congressman Brad Miller all declined to compete against Dole.[12] However, most polling from September onward showed Hagan slightly ahead of Dole, although Hagan had previously fallen behind by as many as 17 points at one point.[13] Hagan was helped by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's aggressive push for North Carolina's 15 electoral votes[14][15] and by 527 groups lobbying on her behalf.[12] The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee expended more money in North Carolina than in any other state during the 2008 election season.[12]

In the November election, Hagan won by an unexpectedly wide margin, winning 53 percent of the vote to Dole's 44 percent—the largest margin of victory for a Senate race in North Carolina in 30 years, and the largest margin of defeat for an incumbent Senator in the 2008 cycle. It has been speculated that the wider-than-expected margin was partly due to anger over Dole's negative tactics in the latter stages of the race (see "Godless" ad below).[16] Hagan trounced Dole in the state's five largest counties—Mecklenburg, Wake, Guilford, Forsyth and Cumberland[17]. She also did very well in the eastern part of the state, actually outperforming Obama in that region.


Husband's dealings

In October 2008, The Politico reported that Hagan's husband Chip Hagan III, a former Democratic county leader, had been a member of 1,000-member Greensboro Country Club for years, despite the club's de facto segregation and refusal to admit black members.[18] Hagan herself was not a member of the club. Greensboro Country Club admitted its first black member in 1995.[18] Over the summer, Chip Hagan had also been criticized by Republicans for part ownership of domestic oil wells as gasoline prices increased for consumers.[18]

"Godless" ad

In late October, the Dole campaign released a television ad which stated that the leader of the Godless Americans PAC had held "a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagan's honor." The ad showed sound bites of group members espousing their views, then stated that Kay Hagan "hid from cameras, took Godless money... what did Hagan promise in return?" It ended with a photo of Hagan and a female voice like Hagan's saying, "There is no God."[19][20] The ad aired across North Carolina[19] Hagan's campaign says the ad sought to put inflammatory words in their candidate's mouth; The Dole campaign says the ad correctly shows who Hagan will associate with in order to raise campaign funds. On November 1, Bob Dole also defended it, asserting that "it never questions her faith," and that "the issue is why she was there. There's no question about her faith. I think it's [the ad's] fair game."[21]

Hagan, a member of First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro and a former Sunday school teacher,[20] condemned the ad as "fabricated and pathetic."[22] Hagan also filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court accusing Dole of defamation and libel.[23][24] Following Hagan's victory, the lawsuit was dropped.[25]

The ad met exceptionally strong criticism from the public as well as many local and several national media outlets. CNN's Campbell Brown said about the ad: "[A]mid all the attack ads on the airwaves competing to out-ugly one another, we think we've found a winner."[26] The ad was described as "ridiculously outrageous,"[27] "indecent,"[28] a "gross misrepresentation,"[29] "worse than dishonest"[30] and "beyond the bounds of acceptable political disagreement,"[30] among other harsh criticism.[31] The media reported that within 48 hours of the first ad Hagan received over 3,600 contributions, including major donors as well as individual support from a range of atheists, agnostics and other religious beliefs who felt they were being attacked by Dole.[32] Another ad issued by the Dole campaign in mid-October 2008 was described by The Fayetteville Observer as "[setting] the low mark in negative political campaigning."[33]

Senate career

Senator Kay Hagan (center) with her husband, Chip, and lobbyist Heather Podesta.

Committee assignments

Political positions

Hagan differs from the Democratic Party on the issue of FDA regulation of the tobacco industry. Hagan opposed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was cosponsored in the 110th Congress by Barack Obama. Lorillard Tobacco Company is based in her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina.[34] Hagan was the only Democratic senator to oppose the bill when it came to a vote in the Senate. The bill passed with seventy-nine votes in favor to seventeen in opposition, including Hagan.[35]

Hagan at first refused to take a position on the Wall Street bailout bill, but said she opposed it after the Senate passed the bill.[4]

Hagan voted against a resolution to establish a national consumer credit usury rate.[36]

Electoral history

2008 North Carolina U.S. Senator general election [37]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Kay Hagan 2,249,311 52.65 +7.7
Republican Elizabeth Dole (incumbent) 1,887,510 44.18 -9.4
Libertarian Chris Cole 133,430 3.12 +1.6
Other Write-Ins 1,719 0.0 0
Majority 361,801
Turnout 4,271,970
Democratic gain from Republican Swing


  1. ^ a b c d e "10 Things You Didn't Know About Kay Hagan". U.S. News and World Report. 2008-11-04. http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/campaign-2008/2008/11/04/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-kay-hagan.html.  
  2. ^ a b "Senator Kay R. Hagan". U.S. Senate. http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/senators/one_item_and_teasers/hagan.htm.  
  3. ^ Green, Jordan (2008-03-18). "Kay Hagan tries to ride populist wave". Yes Weekly. http://www.yesweekly.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=3451.  
  4. ^ a b c d "Kay Hagan's giving Elizabeth Dole a fight she never expected". Charlotte Observer. 2008-10-05. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/100/story/53485.html.  
  5. ^ Hagan Davis Mangum Barrett Langley Hale PLLC - Who We Are
  6. ^ "Senator Kay R. Hagan". U.S. Senate website. Retrieved 2009-12-29.
  7. ^ Kady, Martin (2008-11-04). "Hagan wins North Carolina Senate seat". Yahoo! News. http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081105/pl_politico/15273.  
  8. ^ Beckwith, Ryan Teague (2007-10-08). "Hagan will not run against Dole". News & Observer. http://projects.newsobserver.com/blogs/hagan_will_not_run_against_dole.  
  9. ^ Thompson, Trent (2007-10-25). "NC-Sen: Sources Say Kay Hagan to Challenge Dole". Swing State Project. http://www.swingstateproject.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=985.  
  10. ^ Valenzuela, Michelle (2007-10-30). "Hagan to run". News & Observer. http://projects.newsobserver.com/blogs/hagan_to_run.  
  11. ^ Hartsfield, Kerri. "Kay Hagan to Face Elizabeth Dole in November". WFMY News 2 / Associated Press. http://www.digtriad.com/news/local_state/article.aspx?storyid=103051.  
  12. ^ a b c "Is the Southern Strategy Dead?". American Prospect. 2008-10-24. http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=is_the_southern_strategy_dead. Retrieved 2008-10-26.  
  13. ^ "2008 North Carolina Senate General Election: Dole (R-i) vs Hagan (D)". Pollster.com. 2008-10-20. http://www.pollster.com/polls/nc/08-nc-sen-ge-dvh.php.  
  14. ^ "Scrambling the red states". The Economist. 2008-10-23. http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12480320. Retrieved 2008-10-23.  
  15. ^ Ryan Teague Beckwith (2008-11-04). "Obama coattails for Hagan?". Raleigh News & Observer. http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/obama_coattails_for_hagan. Retrieved 2008-11-05.  
  16. ^ Barbara Barrett (2008-11-05). "N.C. voters deny Dole, elect Hagan to U.S. Senate". Miami Herald. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics/AP/story/757856.html. Retrieved 2008-11-05.  
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ a b c Thrush, Glenn (2008-10-22). "Club segregation enters N.C. race". Politico. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14815.html.  
  19. ^ a b Kraushaar, Josh. Dole still keeping the faith. The Politico. October 29, 2008.
  20. ^ a b Brown, Campbell. Commentary: Mudslinging to get elected. CNN.com. October 29, 2008.
  21. ^ Bob Dole Defends "Godless" TV Ad. Small Business VoIP. November 1, 2008.
  22. ^ KayHagan.com. Kay on Dole Ad Attacking Her Christian Faith: A Fabricated, Pathetic Ad. October 30, 2008.
  23. ^ Dole Sued for 'Godless' Attack Ad, ABC News. October 30, 2008.
  24. ^ Dole challenger irate over suggestion she is 'godless'⁠. CNN.com. October 30, 2008.
  25. ^ Senator-elect Hagan drops suit over 'godless' TV ad.
  26. ^ Brown, Campbell. Commentary: Mudslinging to get elected. CNN.com. October 29, 2008.
  27. ^ Frank, James. Dole 'Godless' ad shows progress, sort of. Chicago Tribune. October 31, 2008.
  28. ^ Dole's desperate turn to Big Lie advertising. The Charlotte Observer. Oct. 30, 2008.
  29. ^ As election nears, negative ads a distraction. Asheville Citizen-Times. October 30, 2008.
  30. ^ a b Editorial: Dole’s attack on Hagan’s faith drives heated campaign lower. Greensboro News & Record. October 30, 2008.
  31. ^ ELIZABETH DOLE ATTACKS KAY HAGAN´S CHRISTIAN FAITH. AmericanChronicle.com. November 02, 2008.
  32. ^ "Dole's mistake: 'Godless' ad drove donors, voters to Hagan". Miami Herald. November 11, 2008. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics/AP/story/766805.html. Retrieved 2008-11-18.  
  33. ^ Dole’s new ads set the low mark in negative political campaigning. The Fayetteville Observer. October 15, 2008.
  34. ^ Craver, Richard (2008-11-10). "Burr, Hagan promise to work for N.C.". Winston-Salem Journal. http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2008/nov/10/burr-hagan-promise-to-work-for-nc/news/.  
  35. ^ "Senate Passes FDA Tobacco Bill". Wall Street Journal. June-12-2009. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124474789599707175.html/.  
  36. ^ http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=1&vote=00191#state
  37. ^ NC State Board of Elections website

External links

North Carolina Senate
Preceded by
John Blust
North Carolina State Senator from the 32nd district
January 27, 1999 – January 29, 2003
Succeeded by
Linda Garrou
Preceded by
John Garwood
North Carolina State Senator from the 27th district
January 29, 2003 – January 3, 2009
Succeeded by
Don Vaughan
United States Senate
Preceded by
Elizabeth Dole
United States Senator (Class 2) from North Carolina
January 3, 2009 – present
Served alongside: Richard Burr
Party political offices
Preceded by
Erskine Bowles
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from North Carolina
(Class 2)

2008 (won)
Succeeded by
Most recent
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Jim Risch
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Jeff Merkley


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