Rep. Bill Paxon
A member of Congress since 1988, Rep. Bill Paxon served as a loyal, yet back-room player until 1994, when his role as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) thrust him in the spotlight after the Republicans gained 52 seats and recaptured the House for the first time in 40 years.
Known as a political wonk obsessed by the "how to" of winning elections, Paxon lobbied vigourously unanimously won the NRCC post. There he inherited a $4.5 million debt-ridden, overstaffed committee which held little credibility within the GOP.
After downsizing the committee, Paxon worked with then-Minority Whip Newt Gingrich to showcase the revamped NRCC, soliciting large donations and recruiting a record number of GOP challengers.
Paxon and the NRCC also helped craft the Contract With America, winning close to unanimous support for the package from Republican candidates.
Leaving the NRCC in 1996, Paxon was elected chairman of the House Republican Leadership where he has served as a loyal lieutenant for House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
A natural politician, Paxon's roots are in Buffalo where at the age of 15 he volunteered in the first congressional campaign of favorite hometown boy and Buffalo Bill quarterback, Jack Kemp. Paxon continued in politics after college and at the tender of 23 was elected to the Erie County legislature, the youngest member ever.
He was elected to the New York Assembly in 1988, but later the same year won Kemp's House seat when the former football star ran for president.
A staunch and consistent conservative, Paxon fought against the 1991 gasoline tax increase and has proposed legislation that would clamp down on corrupt environmental contractors.
Sitting on the Energy and Commerce Committee, policy is not Paxon's strong suit. Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter, whose district adjoins Paxon's in upstate New York, has observed, "Legislation does not interest him. His interest is just to rid the world of Democrats." Still, Paxon is responsive to his constituents, who seem pleased with his representation.
Paxon is often remembered for his marriage proposal to fellow New York Republican Susan Molinari on the House floor in 1993. The couple wed in July 1994.
(Updated: July 15, 1997)
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