Michael Forbes

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For other people named Michael Forbes, see Michael Forbes (disambiguation).
Michael Forbes
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by George J. Hochbrueckner
Succeeded by Felix Grucci
Personal details
Born (1952-07-16) July 16, 1952 (age 64)
Riverhead, New York
Political party Republican (until July 17, 1999)
Democratic (since July 17, 1999)
Religion Roman Catholic clergy

Michael Patrick Forbes (born July 16, 1952, Riverhead, New York) is a politician from the state of New York.

Early life and career[edit]

Michael Patrick Forbes was born on 16 July 1952 at Riverhead, Long Island, New York to Kenneth and Jane (née Morrissey) Forbes. He is the grandson of Carrie Bowman, a Broadway actress, and T. Harold Forbes, an actor and song and dance man who became a well-known newspaper publisher in New Rochelle and Long Island, NY. Forbes graduated from the SUNY Albany, received an honorary doctorate from Long Island University and, more recently, spent five years in formation and theological studies for the Permanent Diaconate in the Catholic Diocese of Austin. Forbes got his start in politics as an assistant to New York State Assembly Speaker Perry B. Duryea.[1] He was a senior aide to Republicans U.S. Sen. Al D'Amato and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack. Forbes was also heavily involved as a board member with the not-for-profit Camp Agawam, a summer camp in Raymond, Maine.[2]


In 1994, Forbes ran on three ballot lines for the House of Representatives: Republican, Conservative, and Right to Life. Campaigning as a fiscal conservative, he defeated popular incumbent George Hochbrueckner by six percentage points. Forbes got a seat on the powerful Appropriations committee, unusual for a freshman Representative, due to his ties with new House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In December 1996, after Gingrich was cited for gross campaign irregularities,[3] Forbes became the first Republican to announce he was not going to vote for Gingrich for speaker.[4] Forbes voted for moderate Rep. Jim Leach instead. Despite his record of support for a number of President Clinton's programs, Forbes voted for the Clinton impeachment.[5]

Party switch[edit]

On July 17, 1999, Forbes switched to the Democratic Party after chastising national Republicans for being "tone deaf" to the needs of average Americans. While embraced nationally by President Bill Clinton, Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Max Cleland, and other Senate and House Democrats, New York's liberal Democrats (particularly chairwoman Judith Hope) refused to welcome Forbes into the Democratic Party because he would not change his long-held belief in prohibiting abortion.[6]

Activists in the Suffolk County Democratic Party recruited a 71-year-old librarian, Regina Seltzer, to challenge Forbes in the 2000 Democratic primary. Seltzer won a court ruling halting state Democratic Party ads for Forbes.[7]

Lost primary[edit]

Seltzer won the 2000 primary election by 35 votes after national and state Republicans funneled $250,000 to the Seltzer effort. Seltzer was then defeated by Republican Felix Grucci in the November election. Grucci served a single term in Congress, being defeated in 2002 by Democrat Tim Bishop, who served until 2015.

Later career[edit]

Forbes is married to Barbara Forbes and has four children and six grandchildren. In recent years, Forbes has worked in public relations, opening his own firm. He has also blogged for the Huffington Post.[8] He also went through years of formation and theological study to become a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. He was ordained clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin by Bishop Joe S. Vásquez on April 13, 2013. He serves at Saint William Catholic Church.[9]



Party switch[edit]

Lost primary[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George J. Hochbrueckner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 1st congressional district

January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Succeeded by
Felix Grucci