John McHugh: Obama's Pick for Army Secretary

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Harry Hamburg / AP

John McHugh during a news conference on Capitol Hill

For all his pledges to practice bipartisan politics, President Barack Obama's cross-aisle appointments are never strictly olive branches. By tapping Republican Congressman John McHugh for Secretary of the U.S. Army, Obama has snatched away a stalwart member of the GOP's shrinking congressional delegation in New York state. McHugh, whose sprawling upstate district includes the Army base at Fort Drum, is the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee and a highly regarded military advocate. "John is a distinguished public servant who will help keep us safe and keep our sacred trust with our soldiers," Obama said. While McHugh's blood-red district is generally considered safe terrain for the GOP — McHugh carried the 23rd with 65% of the vote in 2008 — the party will nonetheless be forced to weather a special election for one of just three House seats held by Republicans out of New York's delegation of 29.

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Fast Facts:

• Born Sept. 29, 1948, in Watertown, N.Y. Currently lives in Pierrepont Manor, N.Y.

• Graduated from Utica College in 1970. Earned a graduate degree from SUNY-Albany in 1977.

• Has spent his entire career in public life. Worked for the Watertown city manager for five years and then served as a staffer for New York state Senator Douglas Barclay. Served in Barclay's seat from 1984 to 1992.

• Elected as the Representative for New York's 23rd District in 1992. The district is New York's largest by area and includes the Fort Drum Army base.

• Is the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee. Also serves on the Board of Visitors for the United States Military Academy at West Point.

• Divorced.

Quotes About:

"Through more than 30 years of public service — at the local, state and national level — John has proven himself a dedicated representative of the people of northern New York. But it is his service over the past 16 years in Congress — as a champion of our men and women in uniform — that uniquely qualifies him to help lead America's Army."
— President Obama, announcing McHugh's appointment on June 2, 2009

"Two words that characterize John McHugh are class and service, and in this new job he will once again be able to use both."
— Senator Charles Schumer (AP, June 2, 2009)

"John McHugh brings a great intellect and strong leadership capabilities to the position of the ranking member. The Republican leadership of the Armed Services Committee could not be in better hands."
— Representative Duncan Hunter, on being succeeded by McHugh as ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee. (The Syracuse Post-Standard, Dec. 11, 2008)

"John, a close friend for many years, cares deeply about men and women in uniform. He will be a superb civilian steward of the U.S. Army."
— Senator Saxby Chambliss (Army Times, June 2, 2009)

Quotes By:

"I've thought long and hard as to what I might say that would sound original at this moment. But honestly, I don't have an original thought in my mind — all I know is what I feel in my heart, and that is that I am enormously moved and deeply proud of this nomination."
— Accepting the Secretary of the Army nomination from President Obama on June 2, 2009

"On matters that involve the welfare of the men and women in uniform of this country, we're not going to engage in partisanship. We're not going to engage in grandstanding that really comes with domestic-policy debate in recent times."
— Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations on May 21, 2009

"Stop, oh stop it."
—On learning he'd been named one of Capitol Hill's "50 most beautiful people" by the Hill newspaper in 2006. He was the oldest honoree. (The Syracuse Post-Standard, July 27, 2006)

"I am outraged at all of this. Congress is being asked to step forward and make up for the sins of others, and no one is accountable."
—Calling for a criminal investigation of Wall Street's economic meltdown (The Plattsburgh Press-Republican, October 31, 2008)

"The only percentage I pay attention to is to make sure I vote what my constituents want 100% of the time."
—Responding to a Congressional Quarterly report calling him one of the 10 most independent members of the House (The Syracuse Post-Standard, March 12, 2008)

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