Kay Hagan, U.S. Senator

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Janet Kay Hagan (Ruthven)

Immediate Family:

Daughter of Josie Perry "Joe" Ruthven and Jeanette Chiles

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Immediate Family

About Kay Hagan, U.S. Senator


Janet Kay Ruthven Hagan (/ˈheɪɡən/; born May 26, 1953) is an American politician who served as a United States Senator from North Carolina from 2009 to 2015. Previously she served in the North Carolina Senate from 1999 to 2009. She is a member of the Democratic Party. When Hagan defeated Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole in the 2008 United States Senate election, she became the first woman to defeat an incumbent woman in a Senate election.

Hagan ran for re-election in 2014 in what was considered one of the toughest reelection bids in the country, facing Republican Thom Tillis. Hagan was defeated by Tillis on November 4, 2014.

Early life and education

Hagan was born Janet Kay Ruthven in Shelby, North Carolina, the daughter of Jeanette (née Chiles), a homemaker, and Josie Perry "Joe" Ruthven, a tire salesman. Both her father and her older brother served in the U.S. Navy. She spent most of her childhood in Lakeland, Florida. Leaving the tire business, her father branched out into real estate development, primarily focused on industrial warehouses and warehouse-centered business parks in the Lakeland and Polk County, Florida area. With business success came political engagement, in this case with the Democratic Party, with her father later becoming mayor of Lakeland. To this day, the multigenerational Ruthven family remains one of the wealthiest and most politically influential families in Lakeland and Southwest Central Florida.

Hagan also spent summers on her grandparents' farm in Chesterfield, South Carolina, where she helped string tobacco and harvest watermelons. As a child, Hagan engaged in her earliest political activity: placing bumper stickers on cars for her uncle, Lakeland native and U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles (D-FL), who later became Florida Governor following his service in the U.S. Senate. In the 1970s, she was an intern at the Capitol, operating an elevator that carried senators, including her uncle, to and from the Chamber.

She later earned a B.A. degree from Florida State University in 1975 and a J.D. degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law in 1978, later pursuing a career as both an attorney and banker. While a student at Florida State, Hagan became a member of the Chi Omega women's fraternity.

North Carolina legislature

Hagan was first elected to the North Carolina General Assembly as state senator for the 32nd district in 1998 (due to redistricting, her constituency later became the 27th district). During the 1998 campaign, her uncle Lawton Chiles walked the district with her. She represented most of central Guilford County, including most of Greensboro.

U.S. Senate


Political positions


Personal life

Hagan's husband, a transaction lawyer,[56] has a net worth between $10.7 million and $40 million. The Hagans have three children: Jeanette, Tilden, and Carrie.

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Kay Hagan, U.S. Senator's Timeline

May 26, 1953