Louise Slaughter

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Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY-28)
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY-28)

Louise McIntosh Slaughter (born August 14, 1929) is a prominent American Democratic politician, is the Chair of the prestigious House Committee on Rules in the United States House of Representatives. She has represented New York's 28th Congressional District (NY-28), which is based in Rochester and Buffalo and includes parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara and Orleans Counties, since 1987. Rep. Slaughter maintains extensive campaign (www.votelouise.com) and government (www.louise.house.gov) websites.

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Personal Background

A true-life coal miner’s daughter and descendant of Daniel Boone, Louise McIntosh was born at midnight on August 14, 1929 in Lynch, Kentucky. Even after 40 years in Western New York, she still speaks with a Kentucky accent, and her homespun phraseology is reminiscent of her rearing.

Lynch was a small coal town nestled in the mountains of Harlan County. It was there in the shadow of U.S. Steel that Louise’s parents, Mack and Grace started their family with three daughters, Marjorie, Virginia and little Louise.

Mack worked hard as a coal miner supplementing his income playing baseball and pool on the side. He wanted to build a better life for his family and in those days you didn’t leave U.S. Steel’s Lynch, Kentucky, you had to escape.

It was also in Lynch that tragedy stuck the young McIntosh family when Louise’s sister Virginia was stricken with double pneumonia.

Louise and Marjorie were left in the care of their great grandmother Mary Jay Boone while Mack and Grace took a very ill Virginia to North Carolina for medical treatment. Because of a terrible medical mistake, Virginia would later succumb to the pneumonia leaving the family heartbroken. Years later Louise would pinpoint this moment as her reason for earning degrees in microbiology and public health.

While Grace continued to raise Louise and Marjorie in the shadow of such a sad event, Mack worked hard saving money and eventually securing a loan from friends to move the family from Lynch to Monticello. It was there that Mack really began to prosper going into business for himself.

If young women of her time were disadvantaged because of their gender, Louise certainly didn’t let that stop her. In high school Louise was a cheerleader and editor of the school newspaper. She found a love for music and the arts that has stayed with her for many years.

After graduating from high school, Louise enrolled at the University of Kentucky in Lexington where she studied microbiology and her passion for music hit full stride as she began singing blues in a band.

A National Honor Society student, Louise recalls the positive influence her father had on her. His encouragement throughout her education propelled her through her Bachelors degree in microbiology at UK to a Masters Degree in public health. He didn’t want his daughter to be dependent on anyone and the education Louise was receiving would make that hope a reality.

After graduate school, Louise went to work for a major chemicals manufacturer doing market research. Traveling from town to town for her work, Louise met Bob Slaughter, a handsome, blond hair, blue-eyed young man in San Antonio, Texas. Over the coming weeks and months they would date and eventually marry.

After marrying, Louise and Bob were off to Fairport, New York, a suburb of Rochester, where Bob had been offered a job. The freezing winters and hot summers were strange to say the least for the young Kentucky native but it was there that the happy couple began their family.

It wasn’t long before the Slaughter home was complete with three young daughters. Louise watched in fascination as her three little girls grew, each with their own unique personality, hopes and dreams.

Early Political Career

Already involved in community groups like the Girl Scouts and the League of Women Voters, Slaughter became increasingly concerned with local political and community issues as her daughters grew older and more independent.

The environmental movement was just beginning in the early 1970’s. The white pines lining the roads of New York all the way to New England were dying. The Cuyahoga River had caught fire. New York City residents were suffering from lung and respiratory problems. Slaughter was ready to take action.

She joined with her neighbors in the fight to save an 18-acre plot of untouched forest land, complete with wetlands, firs and the entire succession of forest. Despite their efforts, they couldn’t save the forest from its eventual destruction by industry.

Armed with an increased passion for community planning and local issues, Slaughter decided to run for the Monroe County Legislature, finally winning on her third try. One and half terms into her service on the County Legislature, she accepted an offer from then-New York Secretary of State Mario Cuomo to serve as his regional coordinator in the Rochester area. When Cuomo was elected lieutenant governor, Slaughter stayed on as his Rochester regional coordinator.

In 1982 local Democrats approached Louise with a desire to see her run for the State Assembly against a powerful Republican incumbent. Throwing her hat in the public arena for the second time, she knew the deck was stacked against her but after months of grassroots campaigning, Slaughter pulled off a major upset. She was reelected by 10 points in 1984. Criminal justice, women’s health and environmental legislation dominated Louise’s work in the State Legislature and in 1986 she set her eyes on representing Western New York in Congress.

Congressional Career

After only four years in the state assembly, Slaughter decided to run for the Democratic nomination in New York's 30th Congressional District. At the time, the district included downtown and eastern Rochester. Moderate Republican Barber Conable had represented the district for 20 years before giving way in 1985 to a considerably more conservative Republican, Fred J. Eckert. Slaughter was able to peel off enough moderate Republican support to win a one-point victory in the 1986 midterm election. Slaughter was the first Democrat to represent the 30th District since 1910, as well as the first Democrat ever elected to a full term from the 30th since its creation in 1893 (it had been renumbered several times in the previous century) and the first woman elected to Congress in her own right from Western New York. She has never faced another election nearly that close, always winning with at least 55 percent of the vote as the Republicans drifted too far to the right for the tastes of many Rochester residents. Redistricting after the 1990 census made her district (which was renumbered the 28th) much more Democratic as it now included all of Rochester. After the 2000 census, much of her district was merged with the Buffalo-based 29th District of fellow Democrat John LaFalce. While the district contained more of LaFalce's territory, he opted to retire, all but assuring Slaughter of reelection in 2002. She won a 10th term in 2004 with a record 72 percent of the vote.

A member of the House Democratic Leadership, Slaughter serves on the Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. She is the Democratic Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus and the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus. Louise also serves as Co-Chair of the Future of American Media Caucus and is former Co-Chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus. After Martin Frost, the ranking member on the House Rules Committee, was defeated for reelection, Slaughter was appointed to this position. She is the first female member of Congress to serve in this post.

Slaughter's constituents in Buffalo and Rochester have come to know her as a strong proponent of progressive causes and a fighter for the employment concerns and the economic development of Western New York. She has earned a reputation for her dedication to constituent service. She is also a frequent poster at the Daily Kos, a Democratic-oriented blog--one of several Democratic congressmen and senators who post there.

In early March of 2005, she unveiled a Congressional report detailing the unprecedented erosion of the legislative process in the last decade. This report is just one component of Slaughter’s ongoing effort to combat what she and many Democrats see as an erosion of integrity during a decade of Republican control.

For more than a decade Slaughter has been a vocal advocate of accountability in the media, striving to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to provide balanced, truthful coverage on important local and political issues. In early 2005, she authored the Fairness and Accountability in Broadcasting Act, or FAB Act, which would reinstate the Fairness Doctrine in an attempt to restore integrity and balance to the media.

A tireless promoter of economic development, Slaughter is deeply concerned with the job losses suffered in Western New York and throughout America. In Congress, she has introduced legislation to study the effects of international trade agreements like NAFTA on American jobs. To help local employers, she regularly holds conferences to help businesses access capital and federal contracting opportunities.

Slaughter’s fight to secure funding for local projects was recognized by the Rochester Institute of Technology, when it named its Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies facility, “The Louise M. Slaughter Building.”

Drawing on her experience as a microbiologist with a master’s degree in public health, Slaughter has been deeply involved in health issues. She is the leading expert in Congress on genetics issues and has authored cutting-edge legislation to protect Americans from discrimination by health insurance providers and employers based on genetic makeup.

A leading advocate for women’s rights, Slaughter co-authored the historic Violence Against Women Act in 1994 and wrote legislation to make permanent the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women Office. She is leading the fight against sexual assault in the military, and organized a hearing on the issue in March 2004 that garnered national attention.

Slaughter has won historic increases in funding for women’s health. As a member of the House Budget Committee in the early 1990s, she secured the first $500 million earmarked by Congress for breast cancer research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She fought for legislation guaranteeing that women and minorities are included in all federal health trials and establishing an Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) at NIH.

The Slaughters continue to live in Fairport where they started their family nearly 50 years ago. Their three daughters have grown and made them proud grandparents seven times over.

Sponsored Legislation

H.R. 493-110To prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment.
April 30, 2007: Read the second time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 125.

Election Results

Congressional

Year Democratic Result Republican Result Other Result
2004 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 159,655 (72.61%) Michael D. Laba 54,543 (24.80%) Other 5,678 (2.58%)
2002 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 99,057 (62.45%) Henry F. Wojtaszek 59,547 (37.54%)
2000 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 151,688 (65.70%) Mark C. Johns 83,445 (36.14%) Other 3,820 (1.65%)
1998 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 118,856 (64.78%) Richard A. Kaplan 56,443 (30.76%) Other 8,159 (4.47%)
1996 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 133,084 (57.25%) Geoff H. Rosenberger 99,366 (42.74%)
1994 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 110,987 (56.63%) Renee Forgensi Davison 78,516 (40.06%) Other 6,464 (3.29%)
1992 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 140,908 (56.34%) William P. Polito 112,273 (44.89%) Other 7,897 (.75%)
1990 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 97,280 (59.02%) John M. Regan, Jr. 67,534 (40.97%)
1988 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 128,364 (56.87%) John D. Bouchard 89,126 (39.48%) Other 8,222 (3.64%)
1986 Louise M. Slaughter 86,777 (50.99%) Fred J. Eckert (i) 83,402 (49.00%)

Key: (i) = Incumbent
Source: New York State Board of Elections

State Assembly

Year Democratic Result Republican Result Other Result
1984 Louise M. Slaughter (i) 30,556 (54.79%) Donald S. Milcon 24,703 (44.29%) Other 506 (.90%)
1982 Louise M. Slaughter 23,236 (52.18%) Thomas A. Hanna (i) 21,289 (47.81%)

Key: (i) = Incumbent
Source: New York State Board of Elections

Monroe County Legislature

Year Democratic Result Republican Result Other Result
1975 Louise M. Slaughter 4,698 (51.45%) Walter G.A. Muench (i) 4,433 (48.54%)
1973 Louise M. Slaughter 4,082 (49.31%) Walter G.A. Muench (i) 4,195 (50.68%)
1971 Louise M. Slaughter 3,507 (43.34%) Walter G.A. Muench (i) 3,998 (49.41%) Other 585 (7.23%)

Key: (i) = Incumbent
Source: Monroe County Board of Elections

External Links

  • www.votelouise.com Campaign Website
  • www.louise.house.gov Congressional Website
  • Signed 2000 Letter Demanding ABM Test Inquiry
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