The Steny Files

Future Whip Starts

Posted March 11, 2003 at 3:52pm

It always helps a leader to pay his dues, getting to know an organization inside and out and from top to bottom. New House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) started learning how Capitol Hill works about 40 years ago, when he volunteered for Rep. Daniel Brewster’s (D-Md.) campaign for the Senate. After Brewster won, Hoyer became a part-time member of his staff.

In this photo from the early 1960s, Hoyer and other staffers work the files, indexing correspondence and daily Congressional Record items relating to the Senate and Brewster.

In just a few short years, though, Hoyer would start his own political ascent. He was elected to the Maryland state Senate at 27 in 1966, just after graduating from Georgetown University with a law degree. Hoyer was first elected to the House in 1981 in a special election to fill the remainder of the term of Rep. Gladys Noon Spellman (D), who was declared unable to serve after suffering a heart attack that left her in a coma.

Hoyer lost two bids to become Democratic Whip — to Rep. David Bonior (Mich.) in 1991 and to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) in 2001 — before winning the job after the fall elections last year.