Lazio boasts moderate record on some hot-button issues
NEW YORK (CNN) -- In his four terms as a House member from New York's Long Island, Republican Rep. Rick Lazio has voted for the assault weapons ban as well as the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. But he also supports gun control measures and family leave laws -- breaking with his party on both measures.
Rep. Rick Lazio
Lazio, a former assistant district attorney in Long Island's Suffolk County, is seen as more conservative on other issues than New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani -- who decided Friday not to seek the United States Senate seat from New York. The congressman supported former Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) in his bid for House speaker in 1994, as well as the GOP's "Contract with America."
"I strongly believe in the Republican vision of restraint tempered by responsiveness," Lazio said during the GOP radio address he gave on May 13.
"By responsiveness, I mean my belief that, as an enlightened society,
we must care for all Americans. ... By restraint I mean my conviction
that governmental solutions must be carefully crafted to reward individual initiative, and to promote personal responsibility," he explained.
Aides say first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who became the state's Democratic nominee for Senate on Tuesday, may try to portray Lazio as a classic Gingrich lieutenant. At the beginning of the 106th Congress, Lazio was elected by his peers to serve as a deputy majority whip, one of several vote counters for the GOP leadership.
For his part, those close to Lazio said, the Long Island congressman will likely attempt to capture the "anti-Hillary" vote and portray himself as the true New Yorker, despite the fact that he has low name recognition outside of his 2nd Congressional District. Mrs. Clinton first moved to the state in January of this year.
Lazio's more moderate stance on some hot-button issues is counterbalanced by his overall voting record in Congress, where he serves on the House Commerce as well as the Banking and Financial Services committees.
Lazio, a Catholic has garnered a 73 percent approval rating from the Christian Coalition, yet also boasts a 77 percent approval rating from the League of Conservation Voters.
Like Giuliani, Lazio supports abortion rights, but is opposed to the so-called "partial-birth," late-term abortion procedure. That stance makes him more acceptable to New York's Conservative Party, which
had threatened to run its own candidate, former Republican Rep. Joe DioGuardi if Giuliani became the GOP nominee.
In his role on the House Commerce Subcommittee on Health and Environment, Lazio has focused his legislative efforts on the environmental causes of cancer. He was the chief GOP sponsor of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act, which would expand the Medicaid program to provide treatment for low-income women with breast and cervical cancers. The measure passed the House on May 9 of this year.
He also serves as chairman of the House Banking Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, which has jurisdiction over a broad range of housing, insurance and community development issues. As subcommittee chairman, Lazio has shepherded public housing reform legislation through the House.
Other legislation he has sponsored includes the Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act, tax relief for small business owners, as well as legislation to expand the availability of health care coverage for working individuals with disabilities.
A member of Congress since 1992, Lazio has consistently been re-elected with more than a 60 percent margin.
Already reportedly on board the Lazio campaign for Senate is Mike Murphy, a key strategist of Arizona Sen. John McCain's failed presidential bid.
The Long Island congressman had expressed interest in running last August but was pressured not to run by the state Republican establishment. The congressman already has more than $3 million in his campaign coffers, compared to Mrs. Clinton's $12 million.