Congressman Ray LaHood is a lifelong resident of Illinois who
has been a committed public servant throughout his career.
Ray's grandfather was an immigrant from Lebanon who eventually
settled in Peoria. Ray's parents ran a restaurant and tavern.
Ray was born and raised in Peoria and he grew up in the blue-collar
East Bluff neighborhood where he attended St. Bernard's Grade
School. He attended high school at Spalding Institute.
Ray worked his way through Canton Junior College (now Spoon
River College) and Bradley University from where he graduated
with an education degree, which allowed him to pursue his dream
of being a teacher. For six years, Ray taught social studies
to junior high school students in Pekin and Peoria. It was during
this time that Ray developed his passion for politics and legislation,
so he decided to enter the political arena on the most grass
roots of levels; as a precinct committeemen.
Ray and his wife Kathy then moved to Rock Island where he worked
for the Bi-State Planning Commission and the Rock Island Youth
Services Bureau. His stay in the Quad Cities also afforded him
the opportunity to cut his teeth in the political process when
he became the District Administrative Assistant for Congressman
In 1982 Ray was appointed to a seat in the Illinois House of
Representatives. He served in this seat through that fall's election,
though he came up short in his effort to be retained to the General
Following his service in the State House, Ray and his family
moved back to Peoria to pursue a tremendous opportunity: a job
as with U.S. House Minority Leader Robert Michel.
Ray ran Mr. Michel's district offices and then in 1990 became
Chief of Staff, overseeing the Minority Leader's operations both
on Capitol Hill and in Illinois.
When Mr. Michel announced his retirement in 1993, Ray decided
to run for election to the 18th Congressional District seat.
After winning a three-way Republican primary, Ray won the general
election during the historic election of November 8, 1994, the
election which gave Republicans a majority in Congress for the
first time in 40 years.
Ray has served with distinction during his career in Congress.
As a credit to his parliamentary knowledge and fair demeanor,
Ray is often called upon to chair the proceedings of the U.S.
House. One of the hallmarks of Ray LaHood's career in Congress
is his ability to bring a varied group of people together to
work for the good of a community, the State, or on a particular
issue. Just a few examples of this are his co-founding of the
Bipartisan Congressional Retreat, being a leader among the members
of the Illinois Congressional Delegation on issues important
to the State, and convening meetings of local State legislators
and elected officials to work on the priorities of local communities.
Ray has received many awards for his work in Congress. He was
named the 2001 Ray A. Neumann Tri-County Citizen of the Year
by the Downtown Kiwanis Club of Peoria. Also in 2001 he received
the Frank Bellrose Illinois River Valley Conservation Award from
the Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. In 1999, Ray
received Peoria Notre Dame High School's Distinguished Alumnus
Ray and Kathy have four children--Darin, Amy, Sam, Sara--and
are the proud grandparents of one granddaughter and three grandsons.
Ray LaHood Biography Summary
Ray represents the 18th Congressional District of Illinois
Currently serving 6th term in Congress
Re-elected on November 2, 2004 with 70.2% of the vote in the
Ray received almost 216,000 votes in the 2004 election, the most
of any of the 19 Members of Congress from Illinois
2002 election: unopposed
2000 election: 67% of the vote
1998 election: unopposed
1996 election: 60% of the vote
1994 election: 60% of the vote
Bradley University (1971): B.S. in Education and Sociology
Canton Junior College
Spalding Institute high school
Honorary Degree: Eureka College (2002) Doctorate in Public
Honorary Degree: Lincoln College (2000) Doctorate in Political
1982-1994: Chief of Staff for U.S. House Minority Leader Robert
Michel (R-IL 18)
1982: Member, Illinois House of Representatives
1977-1982: District Administrative Assistant, Congressman Tom
Railsback (R-IL 17)
Ray also worked for the Rock Island Youth Services Bureau,
the Bi-State Planning Commission,
and was a junior high school social studies teacher for six
Born December 6, 1945 in Peoria, Illinois
Children: Darin, Amy, Sam, Sara