Beyond Vassar

And the Winner Is... the Wellesley Alum

We’re telling you what you already know, but for the Vassar record: A Republican, male Vassar graduate fell short in his vigorous bid for a seat in the United States Senate. Congressman Rick Lazio ’80 was defeated by Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton in the hard-fought, closely-watched race for the New York Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Even before stepping into the race to be United States Senator from New York, Lazio was considered a fast-rising star in GOP ranks. He had won his congressional seat with an upset victory in 1992 over an 18-year Democratic incumbent in Long Island’s second congressional district. In his current (fourth) term he has served as assistant majority leader in the House, deputy majority whip, and chair of the House Banking Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity.

Lazio majored in political science at Vassar and earned his law degree in 1983 from American University in Washington, DC. He returned to his native Long Island, earned admission to the New York State Bar, and joined the office of the Suffolk County District Attorney. In 1987, he was promoted to executive assistant district attorney. The following year, he became a partner in the law firm of Glass, Lazio, & Glass.

Lazio’s career in electoral politics began in 1989 with a successful campaign for a seat in the Suffolk County legislature. Of his student political experiences at Vassar, he once told a writer for the Vassar Office of College Relations, “I learned how to work within the system. I learned how to respect and at the same time confront authority, to challenge authority when I thought that the answer was not satisfactory, or that we could do better.”


Lazio’s campaign had the collateral effect of raising awareness of Vassar. Former Texas Governor Ann Richards visited campus on behalf of Clinton at the invitation of Democratic students and said: “I understand Rick Lazio is a graduate of Vassar, and I’m happy for him. A good education is a real asset when you’re looking for work in the private sector.” For Lazio, it’s been an asset in public service, as well.