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Sue Weisenbarger Kelly (born September 26, 1936) is an American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2007, representing New York's 19th District. She is a Republican. She was elected to fellow Republican Hamilton Fish IV's seat after he dropped out of the 1994 race due to prostate cancer. Kelly defeated his son, Hamilton Fish V in that race and served until the end of 2006, when John Hall defeated her in the 2006 congressional election. Kelly served from February 1999 to April 2001 as Chair of the House Page Board, which came under fire during the Mark Foley scandal.

Sue W. Kelly
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 19th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byHamilton Fish
Succeeded byJohn Hall
Personal details
Madelyn Sue Weisenbarger[1]

(1936-09-26) September 26, 1936 (age 82)
Lima, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Ed Kelly
EducationDenison University (BA)
Sarah Lawrence College (MA)


Personal lifeEdit

She was born in Lima, Ohio and raised Presbyterian. She graduated from Denison University in 1958,[2] and holds a Master's degree from Sarah Lawrence College. Prior to her career as a Congresswoman, Kelly held jobs as a small business owner, patient advocate, rape counselor, and educator. She is married to Edward Kelly, and they live in Katonah, New York. They have four children and eight grandchildren.[3]

Winning seatEdit

When Congressman Hamilton Fish, Jr., a Republican, decided not to seek re-election in 1994, Kelly sought and won the nomination for the congressional seat. Kelly defeated Fish's son, Hamilton Fish V, who ran as a Democrat, and Conservative Party candidate, former congressman Joseph DioGuardi, who had been defeated by her in the Republican primary but continued campaigning. In 2004, Kelly easily won re-election with 67% of the vote in New York's 19th Congressional district although the New York Times described Kelly's opponents in previous races as "token opposition".[4]


Kelly highlighted a socially moderate and fiscally conservative voting record. A 2007 survey of congressional power and effectiveness by the nonpartisan company, Knowlegis, indicated that Rep. Kelly was among the 100 most powerful lawmakers in the 435-member House. The survey also labelled Kelly as the second most powerful congressperson in the New York delegation, second only to Thomas M. Reynolds, who was chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.[5]

2006 electionEdit

On November 7, 2006, Kelly was narrowly defeated by Democratic opponent John Hall by less than 4700 votes.[6] On November 16, nine days after the election, she conceded the election. The state certified the official voting results on December 15, 2006. It is notable that although Hall barely outperformed Kelly's previous Democratic challengers in 2004, 2002, and 2000, Kelly herself received over 80,000 fewer votes than she had in 2004.

Initially, Hall's candidacy was considered a "long-shot," but he gained momentum after Kelly faced criticism in October 2006 for her connection to the Mark Foley scandal. Kelly refused to speak to a reporter from a local news network about the matter and also did not appear at a televised debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.[7] Kelly was represented by an empty chair at the debate.[8]

Kelly was endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group.[9] Her score of 92% was the highest among any Republican Member of Congress in 2006. Kelly had earned a 17% score from the LCV in 2005, but attributed that score to the many missed votes that came in the several days she was absent due to a death in the family.[10]

Kelly stated she was an "independent voice" in Congress, but the Times Herald Record noted that in 25 of the closest House votes during her last session, Kelly sided with the Republican leadership 24 of those times.[11]

In 2006, comedian Stephen Colbert invited Kelly to an interview for his "Better Know A District" segment on The Colbert Report. Upon Kelly's refusal, Colbert interviewed Kelly's challenger, John Hall. Colbert took credit for Hall's election win on this November 8, 2006 edition of the Colbert Report.

Ratings from special interest groupsEdit

Kelly was a member of The Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans for Choice, The Wish List, The Republican Main Street Partnership, and Republicans for Environmental Protection. She received an average score of 30% from NARAL from 1994 to 2005, and an average of 71% from 2000–2005. Her Sierra Club rating of 63% was 8th highest among Republicans during her congressional career, and 159th overall in the House. Some seniors advocacy groups have questioned her votes on Social Security and Medicare.[12][13] The Sierra Club chose to endorse her competitor in 2006.[14] She has a lifetime rating of 64% from the American Conservative Union demonstrating a moderate to conservative voting record.[15]

Kelly, a former small business owner, received a 22% rating from the US Women's Chamber of Commerce.[16] She received a grade of a C+ from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America,[17] an issue which she felt strongly on because of her nephew's service in Iraq and Afghanistan with the United States Special Forces. Kelly voted in favor of so-called "pork amendments 84% of the time according to the conservative Club for Growth,[18] and has declined to answer questions from the National Taxpayers Union, a non-partisan group focused on taxpayer's waste.[19]

In February 2006, the House voted 216 to 214 to cut domestic spending by $39 billion, primarily by cutting $11 billion from Medicaid and another $12.7 billion from federal student loans, which led to protest [20] in her district. Sue Kelly and Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) were the deciding votes.[21][22]

She voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and in 2006, a bill to permanently ban gay marriage in all states. These votes cost her the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, which had supported her campaigns prior to 2004.[23] Her rating on the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard[24] is 25%.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Adytum: 1958. Denison University. p. 157.
  2. ^ "Susan Weisenbarger Kelly - Denison University Alumni". Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  3. ^ Archived from the original on 2011-12-14. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "The 19th District in New York". The New York Times. August 22, 2006.
  5. ^ Archived from the original on January 21, 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Hall, Kelly spar over debates". Poughkeepsie Journal. October 11, 2006. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
  7. ^ Video on YouTube[dead link]
  8. ^ "RNN on Sue Kelly: Anatomy of a Loss". YouTube. 2006-11-10. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  9. ^ "Talk on the Street: Green group gives surprise nod to Kelly". Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  10. ^ " – Times Herald-Record – Archive". Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  11. ^ "Sue Kelly faces her toughest challenge yet". Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ "Project Vote Smart – Interest Group Ratings". Archived from the original on 2006-12-15. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  14. ^ "Endorsements – Politics". Sierra Club. Archived from the original on 2013-09-24. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  15. ^ Retrieved February 23, 2006. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  16. ^ Archived from the original on February 12, 2007. Retrieved October 22, 2006. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ [2][dead link]
  18. ^ [3]
  19. ^ Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved October 22, 2006. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ Archived from the original on May 17, 2006. Retrieved August 20, 2006. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "More From The House – Hotline On Call". 2006-02-01. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  22. ^ "Congress Narrowly Approves $39 Billion in Budget Cuts". The New York Times. February 1, 2006.
  23. ^ Archived 2006-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ [4] Archived August 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit