Steny Hoyer

Steny Hoyer
House Minority Whip
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Leader Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by Eric Cantor
In office
January 3, 2003  January 3, 2007
Leader Nancy Pelosi
Preceded by Nancy Pelosi
Succeeded by Roy Blunt
House Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 2007  January 3, 2011
Deputy Jim Clyburn
Preceded by John Boehner
Succeeded by Eric Cantor
Chair of the House Democratic Conference
In office
June 21, 1989  January 3, 1995
Preceded by William Grey
Succeeded by Vic Fazio
Vice Chair of the House Democratic Conference
In office
January 3, 1989  June 21, 1989
Preceded by Mary Rose Oakar
Succeeded by Vic Fazio
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 5th district
Assumed office
May 19, 1981
Preceded by Gladys Spellman
82nd President of the Maryland Senate
In office
January 3, 1975  January 3, 1978
Preceded by William James
Succeeded by James Clark
Personal details
Born Steny Hamilton Hoyer
(1939-06-14) June 14, 1939
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Judith Hoyer (deceased 1997)
Children 3
Alma mater University of Maryland, College Park (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)

Steny Hamilton Hoyer (/ˈstɛni ˈhɔɪ.ər/; born June 14, 1939) is the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 5th congressional district, serving since 1981. The district includes a large swath of rural and suburban territory southeast of Washington, D.C.

A Democrat, he was first elected in a special election on 19 May 1981 and served as the House Majority Leader from 2007 to 2011.[1][2] He had previously served as House Minority Whip from 2003 to 2007, and was reelected to that post in 2011. These positions make him the second-ranking figure in the House Democratic Leadership hierarchy.

Early life and education

Hoyer was born in New York City, New York, and grew up in Mitchellville, Maryland, the son of Jean (née Baldwin) and Steen Theilgaard Høyer. His father was Danish and a native of Copenhagen; "Steny" is a variant of his father's name, "Steen,"[3] and Hoyer is an anglicized form of the fairly common Danish surname "Høyer." His mother was an American, with Scottish, German, and English ancestry, and a descendant of John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.[4] He graduated from Suitland High School in Suitland, Maryland.

In 1963, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.[5] He earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., in 1966.[5]

Early political career

For four years, from 1962 to 1966, Hoyer was a member of the staff of United States Senator Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland); also on Senator Brewster's staff at that time was Nancy Pelosi, who would later become a leadership colleague of Hoyer as she served as Minority Leader and Speaker of the House.[6]

In 1966, Hoyer won a seat in the Maryland State Senate, representing Prince George's County-based 26th Senate District.[5][7] In 1975, Hoyer was elected President of the Maryland State Senate, the youngest in state history.[8]

In 1978, Hoyer sought the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland as the running mate of then acting Governor Blair Lee III, but lost out to Samuel Bogley 37%-34%.[9] In the same year, Hoyer was appointed to the Maryland Board of Higher Education, a position he served in until 1981.[5]

U.S. House of Representatives


Fifth District Congresswoman Gladys Spellman fell into a coma three days before the 1980 election. She was reelected, but it soon became apparent that she would never regain consciousness, and Congress declared her seat vacant by resolution in February 1981. Hoyer narrowly won a crowded seven-way Democratic primary, beating Spellman's husband Reuben by only 1,600 votes. He then defeated a better funded Republican, Audrey Scott, in the May 19 special election by 56%-44%, earning himself the nickname of "boy wonder".[10][11][12] In the 1982 general election, Hoyer won re-election to his first full term with 80% of the vote.[13] He has only faced one relatively close contest since then, when he defeated future Governor of Maryland Lawrence Hogan, Jr. with just 55% of the vote in 1992.[14] His second worst performance was his 1996 bid against Republican State Delegate John Morgan, when he won re-election with 57% of the vote.[15]


Domestic issues
Foreign issues

On February 28, 2014, Hoyer introduced the bill To amend the National Law Enforcement Museum Act to extend the termination date (H.R. 4120; 113th Congress) into the United States House of Representatives.[30] The bill would extend until November 9, 2016, the authority of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization, to construct a museum on federal lands within the District of Columbia honoring law enforcement officers.[31]


Hoyer is a prolific fundraiser for House Democrats. He has been the top giver to fellow party members in the House. In the 2008 election cycle, he contributed more than $1 million to the party and individual candidates as of July 14, 2008.[32]

In March 2007, the Center for Public Integrity reported that Hoyer's political action committee "raised nearly $1 million for congressional candidates [in the 2006 election cycle] by exploiting what experts call a legal loophole." The Center reported the following:

Campaign finance disclosure records show that the Maryland Democrat used his leadership political action committee — AmeriPAC — as a conduit to collect bundles of checks from individuals, and from business and union interests. He then passed more than $960,000 along to 53 House candidates and another quarter of a million to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, data compiled from the Center for Responsive Politics Web site show. Federal law generally prohibits political action committees, including leadership PACs, which are run by politicians, from receiving more than $5,000 each year from a single donor or giving more than $10,000 to a single candidate ($5,000 each for the primary and the general election). But Hoyer collected as much as $136,000 from one labor union committee and distributed more than $86,000 to a single Congressional race.[33]

The only media to cover the report, the Capital News Service, quickly pointed out how common and legal the practice is:

"That's like saying somebody who deducts mortgage interest on their taxes is exploiting a tax loophole," said Nathaniel Persily, a campaign finance expert and University of Pennsylvania Law School professor. "What exactly is the problem?"

"Bundling is very common," said Steve Weisman, of the George Washington University's Campaign Finance Institute.

What Hoyer, a lawyer, did was perfectly legal, the Federal Election Commission said, too. In fact, his insistence on detailed reporting made tracking the funds easier.[34]

Party leadership

An earlier congressional portrait of Hoyer.

Fifth District Congresswoman Gladys Spellman fell into a coma three days before the 1980 election. She was reelected, but it soon became apparent that she would never regain consciousness, and Congress declared her seat vacant by resolution in February 1981. Hoyer narrowly won a crowded seven-way Democratic primary, beating Spellman's husband Reuben by only 1,600 votes. He then defeated a better funded Republican candidate in the May 19 special election, earning himself the nickname of "boy wonder".[10] He won the seat for a full term in 1982 and has been reelected 14 times with no substantive opposition, and is the longest-serving House member from southern Maryland ever.[8]

Hoyer has served as chair of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-ranking position among House of Representatives Democrats, from 1989 to 1994; the former co-chair (and a current member) of the Democratic Steering Committee; and as the chief candidate recruiter for House Democrats from 1995 to 2000. He also served as Deputy Majority Whip from 1987 to 1989.[5]

When David E. Bonior resigned as Minority Whip in early 2002, Hoyer ran but lost to Nancy Pelosi. After the 2002 midterm elections, Pelosi ran to succeed Dick Gephardt as Minority Leader, leaving the Minority Whip post open again.[35] On November 14, 2002, Hoyer was unanimously elected by his colleagues in the Democratic Caucus to serve as the Minority Whip, the second-highest-ranking position among House Democrats.[8]

Then-President George W. Bush meets with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer on November 9, 2006.

Pelosi became the Speaker of the House in January 2007. Hoyer was elected by his colleagues to be House Majority Leader for the 110th Congress, defeating John Murtha of Pennsylvania by a vote of 149-86 within the caucus, despite Pelosi endorsing Murtha.[1][36] Hoyer is the first Marylander to become Majority Leader.[37] and became the highest-ranking federal lawmaker in Maryland history.[8] In this post, Hoyer was the floor leader of the House Democrats and ranked second in the leadership after the Speaker who is the actual head of the majority party in the house.

The day after the 2010 midterms elections in which the Democrats lost control of the House, Hoyer had a private conversation with Pelosi and stated that he would not challenge her bid for Minority Leader (for Pelosi to remain Democratic House Leader).[38] He ran for minority whip, but was challenged by outgoing Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (the top House Democrats want to remain in the leadership, but the minority party in the House has one less position). Hoyer is moderate while Pelosi and Clyburn are more liberal, and a significant number of Hoyer's would-be supporters in the House who were moderate and conservative Democrats had been defeated for re-election.[39][40][41] The Congressional Black Caucus backed Clyburn, while 30 House Democrats have supported Hoyer, and Hoyer has also raised money and campaigned for many candidates.[42][43] Hoyer received further support from outgoing Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman, Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, and outgoing Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman[44] Pelosi intervened in the contest by supporting Hoyer as Minority Whip, while creating an "Assistant Leader" position for Clyburn which would keep him as the third-ranking Democrat in the House behind Pelosi and Hoyer (the existing "Assistant to the Leader" post currently held by Chris Van Hollen is not officially part of the House leadership and was directly appointed by the Minority Leader).[45][46]

Electoral history


Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1981 Congress, 5th district Special Steny Hoyer Democratic 42,573 55.81 Audrey Scott Republican 33,708 44.19
1982 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 83,937 79.58 William Guthrie Republican 21,533 20.42
1984 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 116,310 72.18 John Ritchie Republican 44,839 27.82
1986 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 82,098 81.93 John Sellner Republican 18,102 18.07
1988 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 128,437 78.63 John Sellner Republican 34,909 21.37
1990 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 84,747 80.66 Lee Breuer Republican 20,314 19.34
1992 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 113,280 55.0 Larry J. Hogan, Jr. Republican 92,636 45.0
1994 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 98,821 58.81 Donald Devine Republican 69,211 41.19
1996 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 121,288 56.92 John S. Morgan Republican 91,806 43.08
1998 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 126,792 65.37 Robert Ostrom Republican 67,176 34.36
2000 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 166,231 65.09 Thomas Hutchins Republican 89,019 34.86
2002 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 137,903 69.27 Joseph Crawford Republican 60,758 30.52
2004 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 204,867 68.67 Brad Jewitt Republican 87,189 29.93 Bob Auerbach Green 4,224 1.42
2006 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 168,114 82.69 Steve Warner Green 33,464 16.46 Write Ins: P.Kuhnert and Other 635 1,110 0.86
2008 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 253,854 73.6 Collins Bailey Republican 82,631 24.0 Darlene Nicholas Libertarian 7,829 2.3
2010 Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 143,620 64.3 Charles Lollar Republican 79,122 35.6 H. Gavin Shickle Libertarian 2,399 1.1
2012[49] Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 238,618 69.4 Tony O'Donnell Republican 95,271 27.7 Bob Auerbach Green 5,040 1.5 Arvin Vohra Libertarian 4,503 1.3
2014[50] Congress, 5th district General Steny Hoyer Democratic 144,725 64.0 Chris Chafee Republican 80,752 35.7 Write-ins 563 0.2

Personal life

Hoyer has three daughters from his marriage to Judy Pickett Hoyer, who died in 1997. In 2012, after Hoyer announced his support of same-sex marriage, his daughter Stefany Hoyer Hemmer came out as a lesbian in an interview with the Washington Blade.[51]

His wife was an advocate of early childhood education, and child development learning centers in Maryland have been named in her honor ("Judy Centers").[52] She also suffered from epilepsy, and the Epilepsy Foundation of America sponsors an annual public lecture in her name.[53] Hoyer, too, has been an advocate for research in this area, and the Epilepsy Foundation presented him in 2002 with their Congressional Leadership Award.[54]

Hoyer serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Mary's College of Maryland[5] and is a member of the board of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a nonprofit that supports international elections.[55] He is also an Advisory Board Member for the Center for the Study of Democracy


  1. 1 2 "Democrats defy Pelosi, elect Hoyer House leader". Reuters. November 16, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-16.
  2. Alexander Mooney (November 16, 2006). "Hoyer beats out Murtha for majority leader". CNN Political Ticker. Retrieved 2006-11-16.
  3. Jessica Valdez. "For Hoyer, a Balancing of Roles". The Washington Post. August 28, 2004.
  4. "Steny Hoyer ancestry".
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Steny H. Hoyer (Democrat), U.S. Representative. Maryland Archives. Retrieved November 18, 2006.
  6. Jonathan Weisman and Lois Romano (November 16, 2006). "Pelosi Splits Democrats With Push For Murtha". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-11-16.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Biography of Congressman Steny Hoyer. From the official website of Steny Hoyer. Retrieved November 18, 2006.
  10. 1 2 Shailagh Murray "Political Pragmatism Carried Hoyer to the Top". The Washington Post, page A6. Friday, November 17, 2006.
  16. "Steny Hoyer on the Issues". On The Issues. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
  17. Hess, Pamela, Associated Press June 20, 2008
  18. Greg Sargent. "Steny Hoyer Says Some Strong Words Against Telecom Immunity". TPM Election Central. Archived from the original on 2008-04-07. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  19. Bob Fertik. "Wiretapping: Impeachment Not Immunity". Retrieved 2008-06-17.
  20. Kagro X. "Hoyer: I've lost all control". DailyKos. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  21. Glenn Greenwald. "Targeting Steny Hoyer for his contempt for the rule of law". Retrieved 2008-06-19.
  22. Lichtblau, Eric (June 20, 2008). "Deal Reached in Congress to Rewrite Rules on Wiretapping". The New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  23. Abrams, Rhonda. "Editorials, Debates, and Opinions -". Archived from the original on January 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  24. Associated Press (2010-06-22). "Hoyer: Permanent middle class tax cuts too costly". WEAR-TV. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  26. Rep. Steny Hoyer :: newsroom
  27. Weisman, Jonathan; Kane, Paul (December 8, 2007). "Hill Close To Deal on War Funds". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  28. "Hoyer takes aim at Moran's AIPAC comment". Retrieved 2007-09-19.
  29. "Democrats: Nuclear Iran unacceptable". Retrieved 2007-01-08.
  30. "H.R. 4120 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  31. "CBO - H.R. 4120". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  32. "Hoyer Is a Giver". Congressional Quarterly. July 14, 2008.
  33. Bergo, Sandy (March 27, 2007). "Passing The Buck: House majority leader exploited campaign cash loophole". Center for Public Integrity. Archived from the original on 2007-08-08.
  34. MURRET, Patricia (March 21, 2007). "Hoyer Exploited Campaign Finance Law Loophole, Report Says". Capital News Service.
  35. "Hoyer has won contested leadership races before -". Fox News. November 5, 2010.
  36. "CNN: Scramble is on to replace Congressional leaders". November 9, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-09.
  37. About the Majority Leader, Office of the House Democratic Majority Leader,
  38. Nancy Pelosi Has 'No Regrets' Following Midterm Rout
  39. Camia, Catalina (November 8, 2010). "Democrats Hoyer, Clyburn fight for leadership post". USA Today.
  40. "Hire Hoyer". The Washington Post.
  41. O'Connor, Patrick (November 8, 2010). "Hoyer, Clyburn: An Impromptu Leadership Fight". The Wall Street Journal.
  42. High Profile Dems Back Hoyer In Whip Race | TPMDC
  43. Burner, Darcy (May 25, 2011). "The Progressive Case for Steny Hoyer as Minority Whip". Huffington Post.
  44. Kane, Paul (November 10, 2010). "In race for whip, Hoyer gets liberals' support". The Washington Post.
  45. Rowley, James (November 13, 2010). "Pelosi Heads Off Democratic Leadership Fight, Backs Hoyer for No. 2 Post". Bloomberg.
  46. 'Assistant leader' for Jim Clyburn - Jonathan Allen -
  47. Congressional Quarterly Voting and Elections Collection Archived February 16, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  48. "MD - District 5 - Special Election Race - May 19, 1981". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  49. "Official 2012 Presidential General Election results for Representative in Congress". Maryland State Board of Elections. November 28, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  50. "Official 2014 Gubernatorial General Election results for Representative in Congress". Maryland State Board of Elections. December 2, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  51. Pershing, Ben (June 6, 2012). "Steny Hoyer's daughter comes out as a lesbian". The Washington Post.
  52. "The Judy Center website". Retrieved 2006-11-18.
  53. "Epilepsy Foundation announcement of Judith Hoyer lectureship program". January 28, 2002. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
  54. "Epilepsy Foundation Recognizes the Honorable Steny H. Hoyer For Longstanding Support". Epilepsy Foundation. March 26, 2002. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
  55. "Board". IFES. 2009. Archived from the original on March 1, 2009. Retrieved Oct 16, 2009.
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United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gladys Spellman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 5th congressional district

Preceded by
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