Pete Visclosky

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Pete Visclosky
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 2021
Preceded byKatie Hall
Succeeded byFrank Mrvan
Personal details
Peter John Visclosky

(1949-08-13) August 13, 1949 (age 74)
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseJoanne Royce
EducationIndiana University Northwest (BA)
University of Notre Dame (JD)
Georgetown University (LLM)

Peter John Visclosky (/vɪˈsklɒski/ vih-SKLOSS-kee;[1] born August 13, 1949) is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for Indiana's 1st congressional district from 1985 until his retirement in 2021. He is a member of the Democratic Party and was the dean of the Indiana congressional delegation before his retirement in 2021. The District lies in Northwest Indiana, and includes most of the Indiana side of the Chicago metropolitan area. Redistricting passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2011 changed the district's boundaries, effective January 2013, to include all of Lake and Porter counties as well as the western and northwestern townships of LaPorte County, while shifting Benton, Newton, and Jasper counties out of the district.

On November 6, 2019, Visclosky announced that he would not seek re-election in 2020.[2][3]

Early life, education, and pre-congressional career

Visclosky was born in Gary, Indiana, the son of John and the late Helen (née Kauzlaric) Visclosky. He is of Croatian-Slovak descent.[4] He was educated at Andrean High School in Merrillville, Indiana. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana and went on to earn his juris doctor from Notre Dame Law School. At Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Visclosky earned a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law. He worked as a lawyer and staff member of United States Representative Adam Benjamin before entering the House.

U.S. House of Representatives

Visclosky with Richard Lugar and Ashley Judd in 2005
Visclosky with Acting Secretary of the Army Robert M. Speer, 2017


In 1984, Visclosky ran for Congress in Indiana's 1st congressional district. In the Democratic primary, he defeated incumbent U.S. Congresswoman Katie Hall, Jack Crawford, and Sandra Smith 34%-33%-31%-1%.[5] In the general election, he defeated Republican Joseph Grenchik 71%-29%.[6] He was reelected 17 times from a district that has been in Democratic hands without interruption since 1931.

In 1986, he won the Democratic primary again with 57%, defeating Hall and three other candidates.[7] He won the general election with 73% of the vote.[8] In 1988, he won the Democratic primary 84%-16% against Sandra Smith.[9] He went on to win the general election with 77% of the vote.[10]

In 1990, Hall challenged Visclosky for the third time and was defeated 51%-30%.[11] He won the general election with 66% of the vote.[12] In 1992, he won the Democratic primary with 72%[13] and the general election with 69%.[14] In 1994, he won the Democratic primary with 77% of the vote.[15] In the general election, he defeated Republican John Larson 56%-44%.[16]

For the rest of his career, he never won a primary with less than 71% and he only once won a general election with less than 60% of the vote - in 2010, when Republicans re-took control of the House of Representatives.


Visclosky as a freshman during the 99th Congress

Visclosky is pro-union[17] and anti-free trade.[18] Reinstating the steel tariff, fighting against illegal actions known as "Steel Dumping", in which countries undercut American steel prices by subsidizing steel production, and/or producing steel through nationalized steel companies, which artificially manipulates the market price of steel produced in this manner, a violation of trade agreements, free markets, and certain international laws, and fighting to save American manufacturing jobs have long been priorities of Visclosky. He serves as Chair of the Congressional Steel Caucus when the Democrats have control of the House, and serves as Vice Chair when they don't. He is also a former Chair of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee and the current Ranking Member. Congressman Visclosky also opposed actions that would have certain components of advanced U.S. Military weapons and hardware made in foreign countries, most notably in China, which caused the closing of U.S.-based manufacturing centers, such as "Magnequench" in Valparaiso, Indiana, which was covered heavily in the media, most notably in printed media from his district, namely "The Times" [19] and "The Post Tribune",[20] both servicing Northwest Indiana. In this particular case, the component was a sophisticated, high-tech magnet, made of rare earth metals, that is an integral part of U.S. smart-bombs and guided missile systems, including the "Joint Direct Attack Munition" or "JDAM".[citation needed]

Visclosky is one of the 126 Democrats who voted against the Iraq War Resolution. He is also a supporter of high tech solutions as a way to revive the American blue collar work force, and as a way to decrease crime.

Visclocsky was a prime proponent of expanding Gary/Chicago International Airport's runway, and played a role in the securing of $58 million in federal funding to do so in 2006.[21]

Indiana's Lake Michigan shoreline

During his tenure, one of Visclosky's focuses had been improving Indiana's Lake Michigan shoreline.[22]

In 1985, during his first term, Visclosky proposed the "Marquette Plan", which would have seen 75% of Northwest Indiana's industrial shoreline reclaimed for public uses.[22] Two decades later, he revived the proposal in a revised form, as the "Marquette Greenway", which would have seen bike trails built along the lakefront.[22] While the overall "Marquette Plan" has not been realized, a number of projects have reclaimed some of the industrial lakefront, such as the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.[22]

In 2019, Visclosky added a measure making Indiana Dunes a United States National Park to an appropriations bill, which passed into law. Indiana Dunes thereby became the 61st National Park.[23]

South Shore Line improvements

A large focus of Visclosky during his tenure was improving the South Shore Line rail service.[22] Visclosky managed to help secure federal funding for a number of improvements to the South Shore Line throughout his tenure, including funding for new overpasses and bridges.[22] In his last term as a congressman, two major projects Visclosky had long advocated for to improve the South Shore Line, double tracking on the existing main branch and the construction of the new West Lake Corridor, received federal funding.[22]

PMA Group investigation

The Washington Times reported in March 2009 that Visclosky had received, over ten years, $1.36 million in campaign donations from clients of the PMA Group. In 2007 and 2008, the United States House Committee on Appropriations, of which Visclosky is a member, directed $137 million in government purchasing to PMA's clients. In May 2009, Visclosky received subpoenas in the grand jury investigation into PMA Group, the first member of Congress to be subpoenaed in the investigation.[24] The Congressman was later cleared of all charges by the House Ethics Committee, who detailed in a 305-page report that "Simply because a member sponsors an earmark for an entity that also happens to be a campaign contributor does not, on these two facts alone, support a claim that a member's actions are being influenced by campaign contributions".[25]

Steven V. Roberts and Cokie Roberts called the Visclosky/PMA/Sierra Nevada Corporation relationship "a bribe by any other name".[26]

In 2011, the House Ethics Committee ended its investigation, clearing Visclosky and Republican former Representative Todd Tiahrt of Kansas. While "PMA's lobbyists pushed or directed company executives to maximize personal or Political Action Committee (PAC) campaign contributions and to attend specific fundraisers while pursuing earmarks," the report notes, "the evidence did not show that Members or their official staff were included in discussions or correspondence about, coordinated with PMA on, or knew of these strategies."[27]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Steel Caucus (Vice Chair)
  • Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues[28]
  • Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans[28]
  • Congressional Diabetes Caucus[28]
  • Congressional Fire Services Caucus[28]
  • Congressional Hellenic Caucus[28]
  • Congressional Serbian Caucus[28]
  • Great Lakes Task Force[28]
  • Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children Caucus[28]
  • Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition[28]
  • Buy America Caucus
  • Dairy Farmers Caucus
  • French Caucus
  • Macedonian Caucus
  • National Parks Caucus
  • Slovak Caucus
  • Friends of Switzerland
  • Wine Caucus
  • Wire and Wire Products Caucus
  • Law Enforcement Caucus
  • Congressional Arts Caucus[29]
  • U.S.-Japan Caucus[30]

Subsequent career

In January 2022, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb appointed Visclosky to serve as chairman of the Gary/Chicago Airport Authority.[21]

Electoral history

Indiana's 1st congressional district: Results 1984–2018[31][32][33][34][35]
Year Democratic Votes % Republican Votes % Third Party Party Votes % Third Party Party Votes %
1984 Pete Visclosky 147,035 71% Joseph Grenchik 59,986 29% James Willis Libertarian 943 0%
1986 Pete Visclosky 86,983 73% William P. Costas 30,395 26% James Willis Libertarian 660 1% Tracy Kyle Workers League 403 0%
1988 Pete Visclosky 138,251 77% Owen Crumpacker 41,076 23%
1990 Pete Visclosky 68,920 66% William P. Costas 35,450 34%
1992 Pete Visclosky 147,054 69% David Vucich 64,770 31%
1994 Pete Visclosky 68,612 56% John Larson 52,920 44%
1996 Pete Visclosky 133,553 69% Michael Petyo 56,418 29% Michael Crass Libertarian 3,142 2%
1998 Pete Visclosky 92,634 73% Michael Petyo 33,503 26% Michael Crass Libertarian 1,617 1%
2000 Pete Visclosky 148,683 72% Jack Reynolds 56,200 27% Christopher Nelson Libertarian 2,907 1%
2002 Pete Visclosky 90,443 67% Mark Leyva 41,909 31% Timothy Brennan Libertarian 2,759 2%
2004 Pete Visclosky 178,406 68% Mark Leyva 82,858 32%
2006 Pete Visclosky 104,195 70% Mark Leyva 40,146 27% Charles Barman Independent 5,266 4%
2008 Pete Visclosky 199,954 71% Mark Leyva 76,647 27% Timothy Brennan Libertarian 5,421 2%
2010 Pete Visclosky 99,387 59% Mark Leyva 65,558 39% Jon Morris Libertarian 4,762 3%
2012 Pete Visclosky 187,743 67% Joel Phelps 91,291 33%
2014 Pete Visclosky 86,579 61% Mark Leyva 51,000 36% Donna Dunn Libertarian 4,714 3%
2016 Pete Visclosky 207,515 82% Donna Dunn Libertarian 47,051 18% John Meyer Independent 17 0%
2018 Pete Visclosky 159,611 65% Mark Leyva 85,594 35%

Personal life

Visclosky is a Roman Catholic.[36]


  1. ^ As pronounced by himself: "Pete Commemorates the U.S. Army's 237th Anniversary".
  2. ^ Balluck, Kyle (November 6, 2019). "Longtime Rep. Pete Visclosky announces retirement". TheHill. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  3. ^ staff, Times (November 6, 2019). "Visclosky to retire at conclusion of his 18th term representing NWI". Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  4. ^ [1] U.S. legislators with Czech-Slovak roots at Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences.
  5. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 - D Primary Race - May 08, 1984".
  6. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 Race - Nov 06, 1984".
  7. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 - D Primary Race - May 06, 1986".
  8. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 Race - Nov 04, 1986".
  9. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 - D Primary Race - May 03, 1988".
  10. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 Race - Nov 08, 1988".
  11. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 - D Primary Race - May 08, 1990".
  12. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 Race - Nov 06, 1990".
  13. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 - D Primary Race - May 05, 1992". Retrieved March 29, 2023.
  14. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 Race - Nov 03, 1992".
  15. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 - D Primary Race - May 03, 1994".
  16. ^ "Our Campaigns - IN District 1 Race - Nov 08, 1994".
  17. ^ Indiana District 1: Rep. Peter Visclosky (D) National Journal
  18. ^ Visclosky Statement in Opposition to Free Trade Agreements October 11, 2011
  19. ^ [2] "The Times of Northwest Indiana"
  20. ^ [3] "The Post-Tribune"
  21. ^ a b Carson, Carole (January 28, 2022). "Holcomb names Visclosky to lead Gary airport authority". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Zorn, Tim (November 6, 2019). "Pete Visclosky brought South Shore Line improvements, Marquette Greenway to region". Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  23. ^ Lavalley, Amy (February 14, 2020). "Indiana Dunes sees huge growth in visitors in first year as a national park, but little else has changed". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  24. ^ Bendavid, Naftali and Davis, Susan, "Indiana Congressman Receives Subpoena in Lobbying Probe", Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2009.
  25. ^ Salant, Jonathan (February 27, 2010). "Ethics panel clears Murtha on donations". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on March 2, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  26. ^ STEVE; ROBERTS, COKIE (March 11, 2010). "A bribe by any other name". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved May 22, 2020. "Bribe" is a hard term to define legally. But we know a payoff when we see one. And that e-mail exchange could not have been clearer: Sierra Nevada delivers for Visclosky because Visclosky delivers for Sierra Nevada.
  27. ^ "House ethics panel clears 'Murtha Method' representatives". Center for Public Integrity. February 27, 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Project Vote Smart - Representative Peter J. 'Pete' Visclosky - Biography". August 13, 1949. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  29. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  30. ^ "Members". U.S. - Japan Caucus. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  31. ^ "Office of the House Clerk – Electoral Statistics". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
  32. ^ "Election Results". Federal Election Commission.
  33. ^ "November 6, 2012 General Election". Secretary of State of Indiana. November 28, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  34. ^ "November 4, 2014 General Election". Secretary of State of Indiana. March 11, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  35. ^ "November 8, 2016 General Election". Secretary of State of Indiana. January 3, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  36. ^ "Religious affiliation of members of 115th Congress" (PDF). PEW Research Center. January 2017.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative