Rick Lazio

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Rick Lazio
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by Thomas Downey
Succeeded by Steve Israel
Member of the Suffolk County Legislature
In office
Personal details
Born Enrico Anthony Lazio
(1958-03-13) March 13, 1958 (age 57)
Amityville, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Patricia Moriarty Lazio
Children Molly Ann (born c. 1993)
Kelsey (born c. 1994)
Alma mater Vassar College (A.B.)
American University (J.D.)
Profession Politician, Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Enrico Anthony "Rick" Lazio (/ˈlæzi./; born March 13, 1958) is a former U.S. Representative from the state of New York. Lazio became well known nationally when he ran against Hillary Rodham Clinton for the U.S. Senate in New York's 2000 Senate election. Lazio also ran unsuccessfully for the 2010 New York Republican gubernatorial nomination.[1]

Early life, education and career[edit]

Lazio was born in Amityville, New York, in Suffolk County, on Long Island. He is the son of Olive (née Christensen) and Anthony Lazio, who owned an automotive parts store. His father was of Italian descent and his maternal grandparents were Danish immigrants.[2][3] He graduated from West Islip High School in 1976. He received his A.B. from Vassar College in 1980 and received his Juris Doctor from the Washington College of Law at American University.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Lazio was made executive assistant district attorney for Suffolk County in 1987,[4] before reaching the age of 30, and served in the Suffolk County Legislature from 1990 to 1993.[5] He currently resides in Brightwaters on Long Island, and in New York City.

U.S. Representative[edit]

Lazio represented the New York 2nd Congressional District as a Republican. He was first elected in 1992, defeating the incumbent, Thomas Downey, who had served for eighteen years.[6] Lazio served four terms from 1993 to 2001.[7]

In Congress, Lazio served as Deputy Majority Whip, Assistant Majority Leader, and Chairman of the House Banking Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity. He was “widely viewed as the most influential moderate in a leadership dominated by conservatives.”[8] From his earliest days in Congress, Lazio made housing one of his primary issues.[9] As leader of the housing subcommittee, he drafted the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998, the most significant piece of housing reform legislation in 60 years.[10] When President Clinton signed it into law, he said that it “made landmark housing reform a reality.”[11] Lazio’s legislative accomplishments in the housing area also included the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA). Enacted into law in 1996, NAHASDA provides housing assistance to Native American communities. It also created a new HUD division, which combined several pre-existing programs into a single block grant program committed to the task of tribal housing.

Outside of the housing area, Lazio introduced the Work Incentives Improvement Act, which allowed Americans with disabilities to enter the workforce while maintaining their health insurance. That legislation also passed.

During his time in Congress, Lazio championed the case to award a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor to President Theodore Roosevelt for his charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War.[12] Congress eventually passed legislation asking the president to grant the honor, and President Clinton awarded the medal in January 2001.[13] Lazio also sponsored the Wartime Violation of Italian American Civil Liberties Act, which, after its passage in 2000, directed the U.S. Attorney General to review the government’s internment of Italian nationals during World War II.

In addition to his position on the Financial Services Committee, Lazio also served on the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, and on the Presidential Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States.

2000 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

In 2000, Lazio ran for the Senate but was defeated by Hillary Clinton in the race to succeed Daniel Patrick Moynihan. His comparatively late entry into the race (five months before Election Day) followed New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's decision to withdraw from the Senate race.

During the senatorial campaign, Lazio was asked by the SEC to produce documents relating to his stock option trading in Quick & Reilly. After Lazio responded to the inquiry, the SEC took no further action.

The race between Lazio and Hillary Clinton became the most expensive Senate campaign ever conducted at the time. In a September 13, 2000 debate, Lazio left his podium and asked Clinton to sign a document affirming a pledge to abstain from benefitting from “soft money.” Clinton refused. Years later, Lazio acknowledged regretting the style with which he made his point, but maintained that “[o]n substance, it was right.”

Lazio gave up his House seat to run for Senate. Following the Senate election, he became CEO of the Financial Services Forum, and, later, the managing director of global real assets for JPMorgan.[14]

2010 New York gubernatorial campaign[edit]

Mr. Lazio declared his candidacy for governor in New York City on September 21, 2009, with a formal announcement in formal announcement in Albany, NY on September 22.[15]

On June 2, 2010 Lazio received the New York State Republican Party's designation for Governor, but Carl Paladino, a candidate backed by the Tea Party movement,[16] petitioned his way onto the ballot and won the Republican gubernatorial primary on September 14, 2010. On September 27, Lazio, who had won the Conservative Party primary, left the race for Governor.

Private Legal Practice[edit]

Since 2012, Lazio has led the New York office and the national housing finance practice group of Jones Walker LLP, a 400-lawyer law firm headquartered in New Orleans. He sits on the executive committee of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families, the board of trustees of Enterprise Community Partners, and the boards of directors of the United Guaranty Corporation and the World Rehabilitation Fund.

He continues to write frequently on issues of public policy and make appearances on national cable and broadcast television shows. He has previously served as a guest host of the O’Reilly Factor and Hannity, and has appeared on shows including Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation, Larry King Live, HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, The View and Fox Sunday.

Electoral history[edit]

2000 United States Senate election, New York
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Hillary Rodham Clinton 3,747,310 55.27 +0.02
Republican Rick Lazio 2,915,730 43.01 -1.5
Independence Jeffrey Graham 43,181 0.64 -0.08
Green Mark Dunau 40,991 0.60
Right to Life John Adefope 21,439 0.32 -1.68
Libertarian John Clifton 4,734 0.07 -0.31
Constitution Louis Wein 3,414 0.05
Socialist Workers Jacob Perasso 3,040 0.04 -0.27
Majority 831,580 12.27%
Turnout 6,779,839


  1. ^ http://lazio.com/p.cfm?s=1000&p=448
  2. ^ Barry, Dan (July 5, 2000). "A GROWING AMBITION: A special report.; Behind the Lazio Smile Lies a Deliberate and Pragmatic Substance". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/politics/newyork/features/3492/
  4. ^ Jessica, Winum. "Four Housemates on Top of the World: Politician, CEO, Media Mogul, and Entrepreneur". Vassar Quarterly. 
  5. ^ Open Secrets https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=27868.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Baranel, Josh. "THE 1992 ELECTION: NEW YORK STATE -- U.S. HOUSE RACES; Green and Downey Lose as New York State Delegation Changes Dramatically". New York Times. 
  7. ^ Open Secrets https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=27868.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Dao, James. "TIES THAT BIND: A special report.; Lazio's G.O.P. Role Is a Campaign Asset But Also a Liability". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Lambert, Bruce. "Lazio Sought to Make a Legislative Mark in Housing". New York Times. 
  12. ^ Kilian, Michael. "Teddy's Rough Ride". Chicago Tribune. 
  13. ^ "Medal Of Honor For Teddy Roosevelt". Chicago Tribune. 
  14. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy. "Lazio’s 2009 JPMorgan Bonus: $1.3 Million". Observer. 
  15. ^ Web Staff (September 21, 2009). "Lazio announces candidacy for governor". TWEAN News Channel of Albany, L.L.C d.b.a. Capital News 9. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas Downey (D)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Steve Israel (D)
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Faso
Conservative Nominee for Governor of New York


Succeeded by
Carl Paladino

(nominated upon Lazio's withdrawal)

Preceded by
Bernadette Castro
Republican Nominee for United States Senator from New York (Class 1)
Succeeded by
John Spencer