Chris Chocola

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Chris Chocola
Chocola.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Tim Roemer[1]
Succeeded by Joe Donnelly
Personal details
Born Joseph Christopher Chocola
(1962-02-24) February 24, 1962 (age 52)
Jackson, Michigan
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Sarah Chocola
Residence Bristol, Indiana
Alma mater Hillsdale College, Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Occupation banking executive, agribusiness executive, attorney
Religion Presbyterian

Joseph Christopher "Chris" Chocola (born February 24, 1962) is an American businessman and politician who has been president of the Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative 501(c)4 organization, since April 2009.[2] A member of the Republican Party, Chocola is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Indiana's 2nd congressional district from 2003 to 2007.

In 2002, Chocola ran for the U.S. House, defeating former Democratic congresswoman Jill Long Thompson. Chocola was a member of the Agriculture, Small Business, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Ways and Means committees of the House of Representatives. He defeated former Mishawaka Marian School Board President Joe Donnelly in 2004, then lost in a rematch in 2006.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Chocola was born in Jackson, Michigan. He grew up in Michigan, graduating from Williamston High School in 1980. He graduated in 1984 from Hillsdale College, in Hillsdale, Michigan, with a double major in business administration and political economy. While at Hillsdale College he joined the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. After graduation, he went to work at Society National Bank, now known as KeyBank, which had recruited him into its management program in Cleveland. When he left to go to law school, he was a foreign exchange trader for the bank.

Chocola attended law school classes at night at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, in Lansing, Michigan, while working as a credit manager for his family's business, Chocola Cleaning Materials. He graduated in 1988.

In 1988, Chocola was hired as corporate counsel by CTB International in Milford, Indiana, a manufacturer of products for the poultry, egg, swine, and grain production industries, which his grandfather, Howard Brembeck, had founded. He initially managed all the legal aspects of the business as corporate counsel. He then held various management positions until he was named CEO in 1994. In April 1999, he left the CEO position to become chairman of the board.[3]

In August 2002, CTB International was sold to Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the investment firm of billionaire Warren Buffett. The Chocola family (Chris, his parents, and other relatives) received 55% of the $140 million paid to shareholders of the company.[4]

Chocola and his wife, Sarah, have a daughter, Caroline, and a son, Colin Green-Chocola.[5] They live in Bristol, Indiana, which, after redistricting, is outside of the district he represented.

Congressional elections[edit]

2000[edit]

In the 2000 election, Chocola made an unsuccessful bid for Congress, losing to incumbent Democrat Timothy J. Roemer by a 52-47 margin. In that campaign, Chocola spent more than $1 million, including $465,000 of his own money.

In the October 8, 2000, edition of the Elkhart Truth, an Elkhart, Indiana newspaper, Chocola was quoted as saying that "Bush's plan of individual investment of 2 percent of the money is a start. Eventually, I'd like to see the entire Social Security system privatized. It's not a 'risky scheme'."[6] In late October, after Roemer had featured that statement in political ads, Chocola said, "There is no one proposing, including me, a plan of total privatization." The newspaper, saying Chocola had made his statement in meeting its editorial board, refused to retract the story. Roemer refused to stop running the ad despite Chocola's contention that the quotation was taken out of context.[7]

2002[edit]

Roemer retired after his 2001–2003 term. In 2002, Chocola ran again for the open seat. In November, he defeated former Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson[8] by a 51-46 margin with 188,446 votes cast, in a race that included campaign appearances by President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and other top Republicans, to assist his bid.

2004[edit]

In 2004, Chocola defeated Democrat Joe Donnelly by a 54-45 margin with 259,355 votes cast, in an election where Bush received 56 percent of the district's vote. In that race, Chocola outspent Donnelly $1.4 million to $700,000. Chocola was assisted by a fundraising visit from Vice President Dick Cheney during the campaign.

2006[edit]

Chocola defeated Tony Zirkle, an attorney, Navy veteran, and frequent candidate, in the Republican primary on May 2, 2006 by 70% to 30%. In the November general election, Chocola lost to Democratic candidate Joe Donnelly,[9] whom he had defeated in 2004, by a 54-46 margin with 191,861 votes cast.

Tenure[edit]

According to the profile by the Associated Press, "Chocola is a strong supporter of President Bush". The two do differ on some positions, such as illegal immigration. Chocola has supported (against the President's position) the "tough enforcement first" House version of changes in immigration law, in opposition to the President's calls for a guest worker program.

In January 2006, Chocola said that great strides were being made in transitioning Iraq from military coalition to police control. He said it was too early to predict when the job will be done.

Social issues[edit]

Fiscal and economic issues[edit]

  • Introduced a bill that would place currency manipulation tariffs on China. He later denounced this bill when he became president of the Club for Growth.[10]
  • Voted against increasing the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program by $1 billion in March 2006.
  • Voted for the Tax Relief Extension Reconciliation Act in May 2006, which extended tax cuts set to expire over the next seven (7) years.
  • Voted for the Permanent Estate Tax Relief Act in June 2006. The bill permanently exempted personal estates of less than $5 million per spouse from estate taxes, and lowered the tax rate on larger estates.
  • In the summer of 2006, voted for a bill that would allow private companies to drill for oil in ANWR.
  • One of two cosponsors of HELPS Retirees Act (H.R. 2177), also known as the Healthcare Enhancement for Local Public Safety Retirees Act of 2005, which enables retired public safety officers to designate up to $5,000 per year from governmental pension or deferred compensation funds for health care premiums on a pre-tax basis. This earned Chocola an endorsement from the International Association of Fire Fighters, one of his only endorsements from organized labor.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As a result of redistricting after the 2000 Census, the boundaries of the 2nd district were redrawn to replace much of what had been the 3rd district and the 5th district. Tim Roemer had been the representative from the 3rd district and Steve Buyer of the 5th district in 2003.
  2. ^ Chocola Elected President of the Club
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/115/000036007/
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ "Chocola wins key Indiana district". CNN. November 5, 2002. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ [5]
  10. ^ Wong, Scott. "Sessions challenges right on China." POLITICO, 10 October 2011.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tim Roemer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 2nd congressional district

2003–2007
Succeeded by
Joe Donnelly
Other offices
Preceded by
Pat Toomey
President of the Club for Growth
2009 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent