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Karen McCarthy (March 18, 1947 – October 5, 2010) was an American politician. She served as the U.S. Representative for the fifth district of Missouri from 1995 to 2005.

Karen McCarthy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2005
Preceded byAlan Wheat
Succeeded byEmanuel Cleaver
Personal details
Born(1947-03-18)March 18, 1947
Haverhill, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedOctober 5, 2010(2010-10-05) (aged 63)
Overland Park, Kansas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materUniversity of Kansas (B.S., M.B.A.)
University of Missouri (M.A.)

Early lifeEdit

McCarthy was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts and grew up in Leawood, Kansas, and graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and English from the University of Kansas in 1969 and a Master of Arts in English Education from the University of Missouri–Kansas City in 1976. McCarthy later earned an M.B.A. at the University of Kansas. Prior to running for public office, McCarthy taught English at Shawnee Mission South High School and the Sunset Hill School.

Missouri state politicsEdit

First elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1976 as a Democrat, McCarthy was re-elected eight times, generally with little opposition.[1] She became a ranking party member in the state House, serving on numerous committees including chairman of Ways and Means (1983-1995), and a member of the Appropriations and Energy committees. McCarthy also served as the first female president of the National Conference of State Legislatures in 1994.

House careerEdit

In 1994, Congressman Alan Wheat ran for the U.S. Senate, leaving an open seat. McCarthy won a crowded six-way primary, and then defeated Republican Ron Freeman with 56 percent of the vote. She was easily reelected four more times. McCarthy served on the Energy and Commerce committee (subcommittees: Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, Energy and Air Quality, Telecommunications and Internet and Environment and Hazardous Materials) and the Select Committee on Homeland Security as the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence and Counterterrorism subcommittee.

McCarthy announced in 2003 that she wouldn't run for a sixth term in 2004 after revealing that she suffered from alcoholism. A widely reported incident in which an intoxicated McCarthy fell down inside a House office building forced her to admit her problem and seek treatment.[2]

Selected honors include the Missouri Citizens for the Arts 2005 Advocacy Award and the Business and Professional Women of the USA's Woman of the Year award.

Global climate change activitiesEdit

McCarthy served as co-chair of the Missouri Commission of Global Climate Change, an extensive two-year (1989–1991) study of scientific data to develop environmental and economic policy options for state action. She was also a congressional representative to the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change and a Harvard fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government "The Politics of Alternative Energies", in the fall of 1982.

Post-congressional activities and deathEdit

In December 2003, McCarthy announced that she wouldn't seek another term in the House. She was succeeded by Emanuel Cleaver, a fellow Democrat. McCarthy returned to Kansas City, Missouri where she sat on a number of boards and was an active fundraiser and sponsor for a variety of cultural and political activities.

In June 2009, her family revealed that McCarthy was suffering from an advanced form of Alzheimer's disease and was residing in a nursing home. Their statement said her difficulties were compounded by a bipolar disorder that apparently went undiagnosed for at least a decade. A non-injury car accident involving McCarthy at her home in April prompted her friends to seek medical help which revealed her illnesses.

McCarthy died on October 5, 2010 at age 63.[3]

Electoral historyEdit

Missouri's 5th congressional district: Results 1994–2002[4]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1994 Karen McCarthy 100,391 57% Ron Freeman 77,120 43%
1996 Karen McCarthy 144,223 67% Penny Bennett 61,803 29% Kevin Hertel Libertarian 4,110 2% Tom Danaher Natural Law 3,835 2%
1998 Karen McCarthy 101,313 66% Penny Bennett 47,582 31% Grant S. Stauffer Libertarian 2,646 2% Elizabeth Ann Dulaney Reform 2,144 1%
2000 Karen McCarthy 159,826 69% Steve Gordon 66,439 29% Charles Reitz Green 2,548 1% Alan Newberry Libertarian 2,350 1% *
2002 Karen McCarthy 122,645 66% Steve Gordon 60,245 32% Jeanne Bojarski Libertarian 3,277 2%

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2000, Reform candidate Dennis M. Carriger received 974 votes.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Former U.S. Rep. Karen McCarthy Dies". 5 October 2010. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2007-07-25. Retrieved 2007-08-08.

External linksEdit