Catherine Baker Knoll

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Catherine Baker Knoll
Catherine Baker Knoll headshot.jpg
Catherine Baker Knoll in January 2006
30th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
January 21, 2003 – November 12, 2008
Governor Ed Rendell
Preceded by Robert Jubelirer
Succeeded by Joe Scarnati[1]
32nd Treasurer of Pennsylvania
In office
January 18, 1989[2] – January 22, 1997[3]
Preceded by Davis Greene
Succeeded by Barbara Hafer
Personal details
Born Catherine Baker
(1930-09-03)September 3, 1930
McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, U.S
Died November 12, 2008(2008-11-12) (aged 78)
New York City. NY, U.S
Resting place

Allegheny County Memorial Park

Allison Park, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Charles A. Knoll
Profession Teacher, businesswoman, politician
Religion Roman Catholic

Catherine Baker Knoll (September 3, 1930 – November 12, 2008) was an American politician and member of the Democratic Party. She was the 30th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, serving under Governor Ed Rendell from 2003 to 2008.

Background[edit]

Catherine Baker was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of McKees Rocks,[4] the daughter of Nick Baker, a successful man who later served as mayor of McKees Rocks[4] and Teresa May (one of eleven children). She was one of nine children, one of five girls and four boys. While a graduate at Duquesne University in 1952, she met and married Charles A. Knoll, a restaurateur and hotel owner 17 years her senior,[4] who became the Postmaster of the Stowe, Kennedy, and McKees Rocks area. Charles Knoll and Catherine had three sons and one daughter. Their names are Charles A. Knoll Jr., Mina Baker Knoll, Albert Baker Knoll, and Kim Eric Knoll.[4]

Knoll began her political career as a campaign worker for local and statewide Democratic candidates, first for her father, Nick, and later for Governor Milton Shapp. When Shapp was elected governor in 1970, he awarded Knoll a job with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

State Treasurer[edit]

In 1976, she ran for the Democratic nomination for State Treasurer but lost to Robert E. Casey, who was unrelated to, but often confused with Bob Casey who went on to become Governor of Pennsylvania.[4] She ran again in 1984 but lost a close primary in which her opponent, Auditor General Al Benedict, originally conceded on election night but later withdrew his concession.[4] In 1988, one year after her husband's death, she ran a third time and was elected State Treasurer of Pennsylvania.[4]

She streamlined and modernized the Treasurer's office during her eight-year tenure and started the Pennsylvania TAP program (Tuition Account Program),[4] built the PA Treasury Investment Center,[4] and started a partnership with PA Home Builders, PA Community Banks, to build PA[citation needed] Affordable Housing in 67 counties of Pennsylvania) according to the population of each county.[citation needed]

In 1994, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into Knoll and her staff after four state consultants reaped improper fees from a prison bond issue.[4] Knoll claimed that the official paperwork had been altered after she signed off on the plan.[4] Knoll was never charged with a crime but the well-publicized inquiry hurt her politically. However, the four state consultants were found guilty and served prison time.[citation needed]

Catherine Baker Knoll ran for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1994, having surprised Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel, by first withdrawing from the race and then hinting that she would consider running if the Democratic State Committee did not endorse anyone for the race.[4] The State Committee voted to endorse no candidate and Knoll re-entered the race only to finish third in a seven-way primary.[4]

In 1996, Knoll, who was term limited, endorsed her daughter Mina Baker Knoll as her successor. Mina Knoll's opponent, Republican Barbara Hafer questioned her residency status because she had lived in New York City and the Knoll campaign attacked Hafer's leadership as auditor general.[4] The race, which Hafer won, opened a rift between the two women that culminated in 2000 when Knoll herself ran against Hafer for Treasurer.[4] The race featuring arguably the two highest-profile women in Pennsylvania politics, was noted for its bitterness between the two; Hafer cited a fraud scandal investigation by the SEC into Knoll's office while she was treasurer, and Knoll attacked Hafer for questionable expenses paid by the state.[5][6] In the end, Hafer won the election by less than 100,000 votes.[4]

Lieutenant governor[edit]

Knoll with Governor Rendell
Knoll attends Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day Parade with Hillary Clinton

In 2002, Knoll sought the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. She faced nine candidates in the primary, including state Senators Allen Kukovich, John Lawless, Thaddeus Kirkland, and Jack Wagner, the later of which was endorsed by the state party. Maintaining her base of support among women and senior citizens,[7] Knoll won the primary with 25% of the vote, winning 54 of the state's 67 counties.

She was paired with Democratic nominee for governor Ed Rendell, who also defeated the establishment favorite in his primary (Bob Casey, Jr.). The Rendell/ Knoll ticket won the general election 53% to 44% over Republicans Mike Fisher and his running mate Jane Earll. Knoll was sworn in as Pennsylvania's first-ever woman Lieutenant Governor on January 21, 2003.

Knoll's old rival Barbara Hafer, after failing to secure the Republican nomination for governor, actually endorsed Rendell and later switched to the Democratic party.[8] This led to speculation that she was maneuvering to challenge Knoll for the lieutenant governor spot in the 2006 primary. Hafer however stated that she and Knoll had buried the hatchet long ago,[9] and did not enter the race.

Congressman Joe Hoeffel announced that he would challenge Knoll in the primary, but dropped out of the race a day later, after Ed Rendell reiterated his support for Knoll as his running-mate.[10] This left only token opposition against Knoll, and she won the Democratic nomination by a large margin. She and Governor Rendell defeated Republican challengers Lynn Swann and Jim Matthews to win reelection.

Knoll endorsed and campaigned with Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the 2008 Pennsylvania Democratic primary for president.[11] Along with several other prominent Pennsylvania Democrats, Knoll's endorsement was seen as a key to Clinton's win.[12]

Death[edit]

In August 2008, Knoll revealed that she had been diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer and was in treatment for the disease.[13] She was treated in Hershey, Pennsylvania at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and attempted a return to her duties in September 2008 but fatigue forced her to return home.[14] In October 2008, she entered Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland for treatment of a viral infection.[14] On November 12, 2008, Knoll died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Upon her death, Pennsylvania State Senate President pro tempore Joe Scarnati became the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Davis Greene
Treasurer of Pennsylvania
1989–1997
Succeeded by
Barbara Hafer
Preceded by
Robert Jubelirer
Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
2003–2008
Succeeded by
Joe Scarnati
Party political offices
Preceded by
Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
2002, 2006
Succeeded by
Scott Conklin
Preceded by
Mina Baker Knoll
Democratic nominee for Treasurer of Pennsylvania
2000
Succeeded by
Bob Casey, Jr.
Preceded by
Al Benedict
Democratic nominee for Treasurer of Pennsylvania
1988, 1992
Succeeded by
Mina Baker Knoll