G. K. Butterfield

G. K. Butterfield
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 1st district
Assumed office
July 20, 2004
Preceded by Frank Ballance
Personal details
Born George Kenneth Butterfield, Jr.
(1947-04-27) April 27, 1947
Wilson, North Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Children 2
Alma mater North Carolina Central University (BA, JD)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1968–1970
Rank Specialist

George Kenneth "G. K." Butterfield, Jr. (born April 27, 1947) is a United States Congressman elected in 2004. He is a member of the Democratic Party. His district is located in the northeastern corner of North Carolina, stretching from Durham to Elizabeth City and including all or parts of 24 counties. An African American and a longtime advocate on behalf of civil rights, Butterfield is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and became its chair in 2015.

Early life and education

Butterfield was born and raised in Wilson, North Carolina in a prominent African-American family. He is the son of Addie Lourine (née Davis) and George Kenneth Butterfield, both of whom were mixed race Americans.[1] His father was an immigrant from Bermuda.[2]

Described by the Washington Post as an "African-American who appears to be white",[3] Butterfield has European as well as African ancestry. In describing his racial identity as a black man, he has pointed to his African heritage, while also noting that he grew up on the "black side" of town and led civil rights marches.[4] He is the current chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.[5]

Butterfield graduated from Charles H. Darden High School. He earned degrees in political science and sociology from North Carolina Central University (NCCU).[6] In 1974, he received a Juris Doctor degree from the NCCU School of Law.[6]

Butterfield served in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970.[7]

Judicial career

In 1988, Butterfield was elected as Resident Superior Court judge in the first judicial division. For the next twelve years, he presided over civil and criminal court in 46 counties of North Carolina.[6] In February 2001, he was appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court by Governor Mike Easley.[6] In 2002, Butterfield lost his seat on the Supreme Court but returned to the Superior Court bench by special appointment of Governor Mike Easley and served in that position until his retirement in May 2004.[6]

Political career

Butterfield was first elected to the House of Representatives in a special election in 2004, to fill the seat of Frank Ballance, who resigned.

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Butterfield serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and formerly served on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Agriculture Committee. He is the Region VIII representative on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Beginning in 2007 in the 110th Congress, Butterfield was chosen to serve as one of eight Chief Deputy Whips; they assist in the formulation of Democratic policy and ensure the passage of legislation by maintaining good communication with members. He was appointed to this position by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.[6]

Political positions

As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, G.K. Butterfield advocated for the American Clean Energy and Security Act.[9] Butterfield supports "a market-based approach to capping carbon emissions"[10] and wants to broaden the United States' sources of energy.[11] On his website, Butterfield stresses the need to find more clean and domestic sources of energy.[10]

A strong supporter of civil rights, he advocated renewal of the Voting Rights Act and "introduced a bill calling for the Capitol Visitor's Center to acknowledge the slave labor used to build the Capitol."[3]

In 2009, Butterfield introduced the Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act "to assist states in carrying out inspections of lodging facilities, train inspection personnel, contract with a commercial exterminator; educate owners and staff at lodging facilities."[12] Butterfield also passed H.R. 4252 "To amend the Small Business Act to change the net worth amount under the small business program for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals from $750,000 to $978,722, and for other purposes."[13]

Butterfield supported the Affordable Health Care Act, and worked with the Energy and Commerce Committee to help write the legislation.[14] During the discussion of the bill in Congress, Butterfield complained about the lack of cooperation from the Republican party.[14]

Butterfield supports increasing taxes for higher-income families while decreasing taxes for middle and low-income families.[14] Although he is an advocate for using government stimulus in order to improve the economy, Butterfield wants to reduce government regulations on the private sector.[14]

In 2008 Planned Parenthood gave Butterfield an 80 percent ranking. In 2009 Butterfield supported the interests of NARAL Pro-Choice America 100 percent of the time.[14] Butterfield identifies as pro-choice and especially supports legalized abortion when the life of the woman is in danger or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.[14]

Butterfield has repeatedly voted against defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, voting against the Marriage Protection Act of 2004 and constitutional marriage amendments in 2004 and 2006. He has voted to ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 2010 voted for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.[15]

Butterfield voted in 2008 against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) $700 billion bailout of the financial industry and the $14 billion rescue package for the auto industry.[16]

In 2011, he voted to extend expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act[17] and voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012.[18]

In 2012, Butterfield introduced legislation that, if passed, would require more input from the public before tolls are introduced on roads. His legislation is in response to the "No toll on I-95" group, which is a Roanoke Rapids-based group that opposes instating a toll on I-95. Opponents of the toll argue that it leads to double taxation, and say it is the first time "the federal government has put tolls on an existing interstate."[19]

On July 23, 2014, Butterfield introduced the joint resolution Approving the location of a memorial to commemorate the more than 5,000 slaves and free Black persons who fought for independence in the American Revolution.[20] The joint resolution would approve the location of a commemorative work to honor the more than 5,000 slaves and free black persons who fought in the American Revolution.[21]

Political campaigns


Butterfield was elected to Congress in a special election on July 20, 2004 (see above.) to fill the unexpired term of Representative Frank Ballance, who resigned for health reasons. He defeated Republican candidate Greg Dority and Libertarian Party nominee Tom Eisenmenger. Butterfield was sworn into office on July 21, 2004.

On July 20, 2004, Butterfield won the Democratic primary entitling him to run in the November 2004 general election. Running against Dority again, he won his first full term with 64% of the popular vote.[22][23]


Butterfield was unopposed for reelection in 2006.


Butterfield won against Dean Stephens with 70.28% of the vote.[24]

2008 Presidential campaign

Originally endorsing John Edwards for the presidential primary,[25] in January 2008, Butterfield endorsed Barack Obama for the primary and general election.[26]


Butterfield defeated Republican nominee Ashley Woolard.


Butterfield sought re-election in 2012; the district was expected to strongly favor Democrats.[27]

In April 2012, Butterfield accompanied President Obama to speak at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to speak about extending the current interest rates on federal loan program for many undergraduate students. Butterfield expressed concern with the pending expiration, saying: “Allowing the current interest rates to expire would burden students with additional debt, prolong their ability to kick start their careers, and send the message that it is more important to cut taxes for the wealthy than educational expenses for our young people.”[28]

Personal life

In 1971, Butterfield married Jean Farmer. They have two daughters, Valeisha and Lenai, who are now adults.[6] He and Jean divorced in 1991. Jean has been a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives representing House District 24 since 2003. Their daughter Valeisha is married to NBA player Dahntay Jones. They have one child together, Dahntay, Jr. In addition, Butterfield is the father of an adult daughter, Tunya Michelle Butterfield Smith. Tunya and her husband, Chris Smith, have twin sons, Gavin and Chase.

G.K. Butterfield is a lifelong member of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church in Wilson, North Carolina, where he has served as Trustee and Chairman of the Finance Ministry.[6] He is also a member of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Incorporated.[29]

See also


  1. "Butterfield"
  2. "CSCE :: Testimony :: Hon. G.K. Butterfield Commissioner - Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe". Csce.gov. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  3. 1 2 "G.K. Butterfield, (D-N.C.)", Politics, Washington Post, 23 December 2011, accessed 4 April 2013
  4. AP, "Many insisting that Obama is not black", Huffington Post, 14 December 2008, accessed 4 April 2013
  5. https://butterfield.house.gov/about/committees-and-caucuses
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "About GK". United States House of Representatives. n.d. Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  7. BUTTERFIELD, George Kenneth, Jr. (G.K.), (1947 - ) Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  8. "Butterfield elected to Congressional Black Caucus". The Daily Reflector. November 16, 2012. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
  9. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) (June 15, 2009). "Poorest Americans, contributing least to climate change, will not be hurt by legislation to rectify". The Hill.
  10. 1 2 "Energy & Global Climate Change". Congressman G.K. Butterfield Official Website.
  11. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) (June 15, 2010). "Hearing with oil executives underscores need for energy overhaul". The Hill.
  12. http://www.afro.com/sections/news/national/story.htm?storyid=3130
  13. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.4253:
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 http://www.votesmart.org/issue_rating_category.php?can_id=41077
  15. "G.K. Butterfield - Gay Marriage". The Political Guide.
  16. "Democrat George Kenneth 'G.K.' Butterfield, Jr.". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  17. http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll036.xml
  18. "HR 1540 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 - Voting Record". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  19. "Butterfield to announce tolling bill". Chicago Tribune. 4 May 2012.
  20. "H.J.Res. 120 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  21. Marcos, Cristina (8 September 2014). "House authorizes location for American Revolution memorial in D.C.". The Hill. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  22. William L. Holmes (21 July 2004). "Butterfield Wins Special Election; Will Face Dority in November". Associated Press.
  23. Cindy George (21 July 2004). "Former Justice Wins 1st District; Butterfield Fills Ballance's Seat". News and Observer. p. A16.
  24. "North Carolina Election Results 2008". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-06.
  25. Butterfield now endorses Obama
  26. Boyer, Robert (2008-10-12). "Hunt among state Dems stumping for Obama". Times-News.
  27. Miller, Joshua (8 August 2011). "Race Ratings: GOP Looks for Major Gains in North Carolina". Roll Call. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  28. Johnston, Bill (24 April 2012). "Butterfield to Join President Obama at Chapel Hill Speech Today". Goldsboro Daily News. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  29. Davis, Edmond. "Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship (1962-- )". BlackPast.org. Retrieved 11 December 2011.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to G. K. Butterfield.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank Ballance
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 1st congressional district

Preceded by
Marcia Fudge
Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
Succeeded by
Cedric Richmond
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Randy Neugebauer
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Charles Boustany
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