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Profile of Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina


Profile of Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina

Photo Courtesy of Kay Hagan Campaign

Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina:

Kay Hagan was elected to the U.S. Senate from North Carolina on November 4, 2008, winning by an unexpectedly strong margin of 53% to 44% over one-term Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole in a messy election race.

Previously, Hagan served in the North Carolina State Senate where she was particularly known for her budgetary skills and support of the military.

Hagan won, in part, due to Obama's strong appeal in North Carolina, and because the Democratic party spent more funds on her senatorial campaign than any other in the 2008 cycle.

The '08 North Carolina Senate Race:

Kay Hagan challenged incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who was initially favored to win.

Dole, wife of former Sen. Robert Dole, suffered from a number of missteps, including lack of rapport with voters, and close association with Bush White House stances.

Dole's campaign also ran a controversial, unpopular ad that questioned Kay Hagan's Christian faith and dubbed her "godless." Hagan, in fact, is a church elder and Sunday School teacher.

Kay Hagan, Five-Term State Assembly Member:

Kay Hagan's five two-year terms in the North Carolina State Senate were characterized by her active, engaged support on many issues, including education, health care for chilren, homeland security, college affordability, job training, predatory lending and more.

As co-chair of the Budget Committee, Hagan became known as a skillful budgeter with no tolerance for wasteful spending who generated five balanced state budgets.

Her tenure was marked by an unwavering commitment to "keeping North Carolina the most military-friendly state in the country."

Kay Hagan on the Issues:

During her senatorial campaign, Hagan supported moderately liberal, safely "common sense" positions on various issues, including:
  • Ending tax breaks for U.S. companies that outsources jobs overseas
  • Increasing care fuel efficiency standards
  • Full funding and new flexibility for No Child Left Behind
  • Trade policies "written in the best interest of the middle-class"
  • Expanding the college tuition tax credit
  • Expanding access to pre-kindergarten education

Senate Committees in 112th Congress, 2011-2012:

  • Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee
  • Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee
  • Armed Services Committee
  • Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee

Kay Hagan Before the North Carolina Assembly:

After earning her J.D. in 1978, Kay Hagan took a legal position with North Carolina National Bank, rising to the level of Vice President before resigning to become a fulltime mother after the birth of her first child.

True to her family's tradition, however, Hagan remained active in Democratic politics, including serving as regional campaign manager for Gov. Jim Hunt's successful 1992 and 1996 campaigns.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - May 26, 1953 in Shelby, North Carolina to middle-class parents Joe and Jeanette Ruthven

  • Education - B.A. in American Studies, 1975, Florida State University; J.D.,1978, Wake Forest University

  • Family - Married to Chip Hagan, whom she met while law school together. Three adult children: Tilden, Carrie and Jeanette

  • Faith - The Hagans are members of the Greensboro Presbyterian Church where Kay has served as elder and Sunday School teacher
In the 1970s, Hagan interned at the U.S. Capitol by operating an elevator for the Senate chambers. Hagan is a runner, backpacker and yoga enthusiast.

Attorney Chip Hagan, Husband of Kay Hagan:

Charles Tilden "Chip" Hagan, III has practiced law in North Carolna for over 30 years, since he earned a J.D. from Wake Forest Univesity in 1977 where he served as editor of the Wake Forest Law Review.

Hagan is a partner in the fledgling Greensboro law firm of Hagan, Davis, Mangum, Barrett, Langley, Hale, PLLC. Attorney Hagan specializes in mergers, acquisitions and business transactions, and serves as vice chair of the international law section of the North Carolina Bar Association.

Kay Hagan's Political and Military Family:

Hagan's maternal uncle, Lawton Chiles, served 2 terms as Florida governor and 3 terms as U.S. senator. Hagan's earliest political memories are of placing bumper stickers on cars for her uncle.

Hagan has multiple ties to the military: Her husband is a Vietnam veteran who attended law school on the GI bill; her father-in-law was a two-star Marine Corps general; her father and brother served in the Navy; and two nephews serve in active duty overseas, one as a Navy SEAL, one as an Air Force fighter pilot.

Her father, Joe P. Ruthven, is a successful real estate broker and community leader in Lakeland, Florida.

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