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John B. Larson (D-Conn.)

House Democratic Caucus Chairman (since 2009)

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Why He Matters

A moderate Democrat, Larson eased into the office of House Democratic Caucus chair after Rahm Emanuel left the House to become chief of staff for President Barack Obama. Larson had won a three-way race for House Democratic Caucus vice chairman, the lowest-ranking post in the House Democratic leadership, in February 2006 after then-Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was appointed Senator. His position as vice-chair made him a natural choice to move up in the leadership, and he won easily.

Larson has been a harsh critic of the Iraq war from the beginning, and he proposed legislation in 2007 to rescind the president's authority to wage war there. He has worked to expand health-care and prescription-drug coverage throughout his time in the House, and has been a longtime advocate of alternative-energy sources, which are already being used in his home state of Connecticut.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: U.S. Representative (since January 1999); Connecticut Senate President Pro Tempore (1987 to 1995); Connecticut State Senate (1983 to 1995)
  • Birthday: July 22, 1948
  • Hometown: East Hartford, Conn.
  • Alma Mater: Central Connecticut State University, B.S. 1971 (history)
  • Spouse: Leslie
  • Religion: Catholic
  • DC Office: 1005 Longworth House Office Building, 202-225-2265
  • State/District Office: Hartford, 860-278-8888
 

Path to Power

Raised with seven siblings in a housing project in East Hartford, Larson had a father who was a fireman and a mother who worked in the state Capitol.

Larson worked as a high-school teacher and athletic coach after graduating from Central Connecticut State University. After buying an insurance company, Larson first ran for public office in 1982, when he won a seat in the Connecticut Senate. After four years, he became the Senate president pro tempore, where he served until 1995.

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The Issues

A member of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of moderate, pro-business Democrats, Larson voted with the Democratic Party 98.6 percent of the time in the 110th Congress.

On foreign policy, Larson opposes the Bush doctrine of preemption and was a strong foe of the Iraq war from the beginning. After the war began, Larson introduced legislation to reimburse families who had purchased body armor for soldiers, and he sponsored a 2007 bill that would have repealed the 2002 vote that gave the president the authority to wage war in Iraq.

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The Network

Larson was an early backer of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Reps. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) helped run his campaign for Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus.

 

Additional Resources

  1. Pazniokas, Mark, "After Bailout vote, lawmakers turn to constituents," The Hartford Courant, Oct. 4, 2008
  2. Urban, Peter, "House rejects Bush's troops boost", Connecticut Post Online, Feb. 16, 2007
  3. "Democrat's Larson blames GOP for Wall Street woes,"The East Hartford Gazette, Sept. 15, 2008
  4. Washington Post Votes Database
  5. "Larson moves up in Congressional pecking order," The East Hartford Gazette, Feb. 6. 2004
  6. Biographical and career data taken from Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition, and John B. Larson official Web site
  7. Murray, Shailagh and Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post, "House Passes Health-Care Reform Bill without Republican Votes," March 22, 2010
  8. "A Case for change in Congress," Hartford Courant, Oct. 22, 2006
  9. Jacklin, Michele, "Curry, Rowland win state primaries," Hartford Courant, Sept. 14, 1994
  10. Kornacki, Steve, "Larson's Victory Upsets Tradition," Roll Call, Feb. 2, 2006
  11. Lightman, David, "Larson's Bill: A measure with a mission; Move would rescind 2002 Iraq vote, Hartford Courant, March 5, 2007
  12. Congressional press release, "Dodd, Larson unveil 'Energy Independence Act,'" May 18, 2001
  13. O'Connor, Patrick, "The Crypt: Larson announces bid for Caucus chair," Politico.com, Nov. 6, 2008
  14. "Connecticut Rapoport, Larson Lead in 1st District," Roll Call, Sept. 7, 1998