Rick Lazio

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Rick Lazio
Rick Lazio.jpg
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 the executive assistant district attorney for Suffolk County and served in the Suffolk County Legislature from 1990 to 1993. 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. Lazio served four terms from 1993 to 2001, winning re-election by the largest margin in the history of the district.[citation needed]

In Congress, Lazio served as Deputy Majority Whip, Assistant Majority Leader, and Chairman of the House Banking Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity.

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.

Lazio was dogged during the senatorial campaign with questioning by the SEC into his stock option transactions (e.g., Quick & Reilly, Monsanto, U.S. Filter). After Lazio responded to the inquiry, the SEC took no further action.[4] (Lazio in Congress was the leading advocate for the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.)

A decisive moment that was detrimental to his campaign came during a September 13, 2000 debate when he left his podium, walked over to Clinton with a piece of paper that he called the "New York Freedom From Soft Money Pledge" and demanded she sign it. Clinton refused.[5] Some debate viewers were turned off by Lazio's demeanor towards Clinton[6] – and as a result, Clinton's support among women voters solidified.[5]

Lazio has since expressed regret for his conduct, widely regarded as "bullying and chauvinistic",[7] during the debate:

At the time, I was making a point about a campaign finance pledge that Mrs. Clinton had made and I didn't feel that it was being honored. I thought that was the opportunity to make the point. On substance, it was right – and on style and perception, it was a mistake, which I regret.[7]

Lazio gave up his House seat to run for Senate. Following his defeat, which set a record for the most money spent in a losing Senate effort,[8] he took positions in the corporate world and avoided electoral politics for a decade.[9] He has worked for several years as JPMorgan’s director of global real assets.[10]

2010 New York gubernatorial campaign[edit]

In January 2009, Lazio was said to be seriously considering a run in the New York gubernatorial election, 2010.[11] In May 2009, he filed paperwork with the state board of elections to form a campaign committee.[12] Mr. Lazio declared his candidacy for governor in New York City on September 21, 2009, with a formal announcement in Albany, NY on September 22.[13]

On May 28, 2010, Lazio officially received the backing of the New York State Conservative Party. Lazio had already been endorsed by Mike Long, the Conservative Party leader.[14]

On June 2, 2010 Lazio received the New York State Republican Party's designation for Governor, overwhelmingly defeating Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. Lazio received 59%, Levy 28%, Carl Paladino 8% and Myers Mermel 4%.[15]

Paladino, a candidate backed by the Tea Party movement,[16] petitioned his way onto the ballot and defeated Lazio in the Republican gubernatorial primary on September 14, 2010.[17] Lazio won the Conservative Party primary over dummy candidate Ralph Lorigo on the same day. In the Republican primary, Lazio won most of downstate New York, but lost in all but two counties in upstate New York. On September 27, Lazio announced he was no longer going to run on the Conservative Party line, and would instead become a dummy candidate for a judgeship in the Bronx, allowing the line to be cleared for another candidate.[17] Lazio indicated he had no desire to actually be a judge and would resign immediately in the event he was actually elected to the post (the Bronx has heavy Democratic Party voter enrollment, making such an event highly improbable).[18] He and defeated lieutenant governor candidate Thomas Ognibene were placed in the same Bronx court election against Democrat Edgar G. Walker (with Lazio as the Republican nominee and Ognibene as the Conservative nominee); Walker defeated both candidates.

2012 speculation[edit]

On April 9, 2011, Newsday reported that Lazio was "testing the waters"[19] for a possible run for Suffolk County Executive, to replace Steve Levy. Lazio's personal website had begun to display on Google as "Rick for US Senate,"[20] indicating that he may run against Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand, however in June 2011, Lazio confirmed that he would not do so.[citation needed]

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. ^ New York Times: June 23, 2000, p. B1
  5. ^ a b Gerth, Van Natta Jr., Her Way, pp. 212–213.
  6. ^ 'Will Lazio's New Jihad Make a Martyr of Hillary?', "New York Observer", September 24, 2000
  7. ^ a b "'Lazio admits mistake in debate with Clinton'", "Newsday", October 2, 2008
  8. ^ Clifford J. Levy (December 13, 2000). "Lazio Sets Spending Mark for a Losing Senate Bid". The New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Lazio announces candidacy for governor". Capital News 9. September 21, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  10. ^ http://observer.com/2009/12/lazios-2009-jpmorgan-bonus-13-million/
  11. ^ Hernandez, Raymond (January 16, 2009). "Lazio Said to Mull Run for Governor". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Benjamin, Elizabeth (May 22, 2009). "Lazio 2010 Inc.". Daily News. 
  13. ^ Web Staff (September 21, 2009). "Lazio announces candidacy for governor". TWEAN News Channel of Albany, L.L.C d.b.a. Capital News 9. 
  14. ^ "Lazio wins backing of NY's Conservative Party". New York Post. May 28, 2010. 
  15. ^ http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20100602/FREE/100609964
  16. ^ "Long Islanders put Paladino to test as their cup of tea," Buffalo News, September 12, 2010.
  17. ^ a b Halbfinger, David M. (September 27, 2010). "Lazio Leaves Race, Giving Reluctant Aid to a Rival". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  18. ^ http://empire.wnyc.org/2010/09/judge-lazio/
  19. ^ http://www.newsday.com/columnists/rick-brand/lazio-casts-glances-at-suffolk-s-big-race-1.2809885
  20. ^ http://oldlineelephant.com/2011/04/10/lazio-for-us-senate/

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