Ernie Konnyu

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Ernie Konnyu
Ernie Leslie Konnyu.JPG
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 12th district
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1989
Preceded byEd Zschau
Succeeded byTom Campbell
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 22nd district
In office
January 1, 1980 – December 31, 1986
Preceded byRichard D. Hayden
Succeeded byChuck Quackenbush
Personal details
Born (1937-05-17) 17 May 1937 (age 82)
Tamási, Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Tamási, Hungary)
Political partyRepublican
Alma materUniversity of Maryland,
College Park

Ohio State University

Ernest Leslie Konnyu (born May 17, 1937) is a former Republican U.S. Representative from Silicon Valley, California, 12th congressional district, and a former California State Assembly Member from the 22nd district.

Early life[edit]

Ernõ "Ernie" Könnyű was born May 17, 1937, in Tamási, Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Tamási, Hungary)[1] to poet, professor and cartographer Leslie Konnyu and his wife, Elizabeth, a bookkeeper and owner of a home secretarial school, and is the eldest of his two late siblings Gabriela (Helen) and Zoltan (Joseph). In 1949 the 12-year-old Konnyu, together with his family, immigrated to the United States from a post-World War II refugee camp in Ampflwang,Austria. He attended parochial and public schools in Jefferson City and St. Louis, Missouri.[2] He attended University of Maryland, College Park and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio State University in 1965. Konnyu served in the United States Air Force as a captain from 1959 to 1969 and as a major in the Air Force Reserve from 1970 to 1981.[3] In 1959, he married Lillian Muenks of Loose Creek, Missouri.

Military service[edit]

Konnyu joined the U.S. Air Force in 1959 as an enlisted medic, served at the U.S. Air Force Hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany, with a final rank of Staff Sergeant, and attended night school at the University of Maryland's Wiesbaden campus, then got an Air Force scholarship to attend Ohio State University, where he majored in accounting. He received his BS in Business Administration in 1965. He was admitted to the Air Force Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas, where he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. From 1965 to 1969 he served at Nellis AFB, Nevada, as a senior auditor with a final rank of captain. He spent 11 years in the U.S. Air Force Reserve ending with a rank of major until he received an honorable discharge retiring from the Air Force in 1997.[citation needed]

Business career[edit]

Konnyu's business career began in 1969 as Controller at Valley View Investments in North Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1970 he moved to Arcadia, California, where he was internal audit supervisor at Avon Products, Pasadena. Konnyu, a Certified Internal Auditor, served as corporate director of internal audit at National Semiconductor Corp. in Santa Clara, California, from 1974 to 1980. Konnyu continued his community service work with the Junior Chamber of Commerce first in Arcadia, then in San Jose, California. As a result of his extensive service to the community the Arcadia Jaycees recommended Ernie Konnyu for a lifetime Senatorship in Junior Chamber International which he received in 1973. ^5

Political career[edit]

California State Assembly[edit]

Konny was elected an Assemblyman from 1980 through 1986 representing California's 22nd Assembly District (western and southern Santa Clara County). He served as Chairman for Policy of the Assembly Republican Caucus and vice-chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee on welfare. His most notable achievement was the California workfare law, A.B. 2580, that required able bodied welfare recipients without small children to work or train in exchange for their welfare check and benefits.[citation needed]

Congressional career[edit]

Konnyu was elected in 1986 to the U.S. House of Representatives gaining 55% of the vote in the district[citation needed] previously served by Republican Congressman Ed Zschau (who tried unsuccessfully to gain a Senate seat)[4] and Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey. Konnyu's principal legislative success was H.R. 1720, The Family Support Act of 1988 reforming the Nation's welfare system by creating, among other things, work incentives for welfare recipients.[citation needed]

Not even one year into his first term, Congressman Konnyu caused waves when three separate accusations of sexual harassment were raised, and responding to it in terminology that made it even worse. His predecessor, Ed Zschau, started looking to recruit opponents to take on Kennyu, and Zschau's predecessor, McCloskey, called Konnyu an embarrassment. In one instance, he told a staffer in a private meeting to wear "high heels and frilly" blouses, and then "asked her to stand up and turn around so he could 'see what you look like'". The staffer was fired after refusing to attend any more private meetings with the Congressman. In addition, he alienated fellow Republicans, including higher-ranked ones.[4]

Konnyu lost in the following Republican primary, to Tom Campbell, who went on to serve for two terms.[citation needed]

Business and retirement[edit]

Konnyu resumed his business career in 1989 investing in a printing business then in 1998 in a tax consulting service. After 22 years he sold his business and retired in 2011. He and his wife of 57 years reside in San Jose, California, and stay active with local, state and national professional, charity and political groups.

He ran unsuccessfully for Santa Clara County Assessor in 1994, losing the nonpartisan race to Democrat Larry Stone by 181,406 votes (52.51%) to 164,045 (47.49%).[5] In 2004, he won the Republican primary for California's 24th State Assembly district[6] but lost the general election to Democratic incumbent Rebecca Cohn by 94,152 votes (59.42%) to 55,956 (35.32%).[7] He ran brief and abortive campaigns to challenge Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in 2014, to succeed retiring Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in 2016, against Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2018 and against Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter in 2020.[8][9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". U.S. Congress. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  4. ^ a b Tumulty, Karen (October 1, 1987). "Konnyu at Center of Political Storm Over Harassment". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Josh Richman (March 18, 2015). "Shocker: Ernie Konnyu won't run for U.S. Senate". Political Blotter. Archived from the original on March 21, 2015. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
  9. ^ Wildermuth, John (August 22, 2019). "It's been 30-plus years: Time to run for Congress again?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  10. ^ Wildermuth, John (August 25, 2019). "Ernie Konnyu's congressional run ends almost as soon as it started". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 26, 2019.

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by
Richard Hayden
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 22nd district

Succeeded by
Chuck Quackenbush
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ed Zschau
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 12th congressional district

Succeeded by
Tom Campbell