Secretary of the Army: Who Is John McHugh?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fulfilling his promise of appointing Republicans to his administration, President Obama has turned to Republican Congressman John M. McHugh to serve as Secretary of the Army. McHugh represents New York’s 23rd Congressional District, which includes the large Fort Drum Army base, as well facilities owned by the nation’s largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin. McHugh has typically received large campaign donations from Lockheed Martin employees, as well as from employees of other defense contractors, including Boeing and General Dynamics. One recent press report alleges that he placed more than $40 million in “earmarks” into a 2010 defense spending bill, including more than $8 million benefiting Fort Drum, but McHugh has defended those actions as beneficial to his constituents. 

If confirmed by the Senate, McHugh will become the fourth Republican to serve in a high-profile position in the Obama administration, joining Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration. McHugh will also be the second consecutive Army secretary to come from outside the President’s party. In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Democrat Peter Geren to the post after a scandal involving the mistreatment of veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 
McHugh was born on September 29, 1948, in Watertown, New York, and now lives in the nearby hamlet of Pierrepont Manor, within the town of Ellisburg. He graduated from Watertown High School and then became the first member of his family to attend college, earning a B.A. in Political Science from Utica College in 1970 and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Graduate School of Public Affairs at the State University of New York at Albany in 1977. 
McHugh has served at all levels of government—local, state and national—starting his career as an assistant to Watertown’s city manager from 1971 to 1977. He then served as an aide to State Senator H. Douglas Barclay from 1977 until 1984, when he was elected to succeed him. He served as a member of the State Senate for eight years, until his election to Congress in 1992, when he was elected to replace Congressman David O’Brien Martin in the 24th district. The district was renumbered the 23rd district after the 2000 census. McHugh has run successfully for reelection eight times with no substantive opposition, even running unopposed in 2002. McHugh was the only one of New York’s eight Republican incumbents to win more than 60% in 2006. The other seven were either defeated or were held below 60% by their Democratic challengers. McHugh defeated Mike Oot for congressional re-election in 2008, garnering 65% of the vote. 
In the House, McHugh was chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Post Office Subcommittee for six years, and worked to pass the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which significantly reformed the Postal Service for the first time since it was demoted from a Cabinet-rank department in 1971. He was a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2005 to 2007. Most recently, McHugh was the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. He serves on the Board of Visitors for the United States Military Academy at West Point. 
Politically, McHugh is generally described as a moderate Republican, an endangered species within the party, although still rather common in Northeastern states like New York. Conservative on social issues, McHugh opposes abortion rights, same-sex marriage and funding for embryonic stem-cell research. On economics issues, however, he has broken with his party in recent years by opposing the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), voting to increase the federal minimum wage and in favor of an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-CHIP. McHugh supported the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan and has made numerous visits to both theater. 
The expansive 23rd District, like the upstate New York region generally, has traditionally voted Republican but has trended in a Democratic direction recently. This part of Upstate New York has historically been Republican at the congressional level, but has recently become more competitive in presidential elections. The district (and its predecessors) has been in Republican hands continuously since 1871, and some parts of the district have not been represented by a Democrat since 1851. Nevertheless, President Obama won 52 percent of the vote against John McCain, and the neighboring 20th District has been represented by a Democrat since 2006. Democrats believe they have a chance to win the seat, although the Republican candidate, whoever that is, will be favored. If Democrats do flip the seat, only two Republicans would remain in the state’s 29-member House delegation, with redistricting (and the expected loss of one seat) looming after the 2010 Census. 
McHugh is divorced from his wife, the former Katherine Sullivan. He was voted one of the 50 most beautiful people on Capitol Hill by The Hill magazine in 2006. 
- Matt Bewig
Pick for Army Chief Pushed Defense Earmarks (by Jim McElhatton, Washington Times)
McHugh Moves Into Spotlight (by Eugene Mulero, Roll Call)


Helene Weinberger 5 years ago
John McHugh was Sec'y of the Army when he congratulated me, a WAC in WW II,Helene Minda #495208577 on my 90th birthday. This week when on March 26th, I will celebrate my 95th birthday having written a book, and still able to thionk and appreciate. Politics notwithstanding, I believe that Sherrod Brown,Ohio Senator is great too. Thanks to all our wonderful military -
Michael 9 years ago
Why did Secretary McHugh strip the Silver Star from Major Golsteyn and take away his Green Beret badge? As a former Marine and Army officer I call on all veterans to call and/or write the Secretary to reinstate his medal of valor and Special Forces badge. The persecution of warriors including those in the CIA needs to stop especially when done by someone who has never served.
hassan daoudi 11 years ago
hi: im hassan daoudi. from: ksar tagrsifte rich morocco. i have the thank's secretary of the army john mchugh the your job politic in america's technology army. hero's hassan daoudi. thank you america's.
Janet Ring 15 years ago
Was John's dad a lawyer? My husband knew a John McHugh, when we lived in Adams, NY, and Al belonged to Ive's Hill Country Club. I was wondering if John McHuch would be the son of the John McHugh that my husband knew?
Bob 15 years ago
It seems everyone has a price. Considering the Cap & Trade Vote, it could be said that Obama found John's. I regret every time I voted for John. I hope he runs for something again so I can support the other candidate.
Jim S. 15 years ago
I'm sorry to say I voted for John McHugh in every time he ran. He has sold his soul to the devil to get this position. I'll never support him again.
Jim 15 years ago
He should have thought about his Congressional seat going to a Democrat before he sold out ( voting in favor of the Cap & Trade bill ) to get his new position from Obama. Or maybe he already had? So much for voting in favor of the people that put him where he is today. It’s the last time he’ll ever get my vote.

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