10 Things You Didn't Know About Kay Hagan

Kay Hagan wins a Senate seat in North Carolina.

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1. Kay Hagan was born on May 26, 1953, in Shelby, N.C. Her father, Joe Ruthven, was a tire salesman and her mother, Jeanette Chiles Ruthven, was a homemaker. The family moved to Florida when Kay was a child. Her father later became the mayor of Lakeland, Fla.

2. As a child, Hagan spent summers on her grandparents' farm in Chesterfield, S.C., where she would help string tobacco and harvest watermelons.

3. Hagan graduated in 1975 with B.A. in American studies from Florida State University and returned to North Carolina to attend law school at Wake Forest University, where she met her future husband, Chip Hagan.

4. After graduating from law school, she began her professional career as an attorney for North Carolina National Bank (now Bank of America). Eventually she was made a vice president of the bank.

5. In the '70s, she was an intern at the Capitol, where she operated an elevator that carried senators to and from the chamber.

6. Her uncle, Lawton Chiles—who the family referred to as Uncle Bud—served as the governor and a U.S. senator for Florida. Chiles, famous for walking across Florida during his Senate campaign, walked the district with Hagan during her 1998 state senate campaign.

7. She and her husband, attorney Chip Hagan, have three children—Tilden, Jeanette, and Carrie. Tilden is a Duke alumnus and will be attending medical school; Jeanette is pursuing a doctorate in geology at Cal Tech, and Carrie attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

8. Hagan began her political career as a county campaign manager for Jim Hunt's gubernatorial bid. In 1998, she was elected to the state senate, representing the 32nd District (due to redistricting, it's now the 27th District).

9. According to the Greensboro News & Record, Hagan's favorite movie is Das Boot.

10. A former ballet dancer, Hagan is an exercise fanatic who enjoys running, backpacking, yoga, and Pilates.


  • Charlotte Observer
  • News & Record
  • The New Republic
  • The Ledger
  • National Journal