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Catherine Baker Knoll

Catherine Baker Knoll
Catherine Baker Knoll in January 2006
30th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
January 21, 2003 – November 12, 2008
Governor Ed Rendell
Preceded by Robert Jubelirer
Succeeded by Joe Scarnati[1]
32nd Treasurer of Pennsylvania
In office
January 18, 1989[2] – January 22, 1997[3]
Preceded by Davis Greene
Succeeded by Barbara Hafer
Personal details
Born (1930-09-03)September 3, 1930
McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, U.S
Died November 12, 2008(2008-11-12) (aged 78)
New York City. NY, U.S
Resting place

Allegheny County Memorial Park

Allison Park, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Charles A. Knoll
Profession Teacher, businesswoman, politician
Religion Roman Catholic

Catherine Baker Knoll (September 3, 1930 – November 12, 2008) was an American politician and member of the Democratic Party. She was the 30th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, serving under Governor Ed Rendell from 2003 to 2008.


  • Background 1
  • State Treasurer 2
  • Lieutenant governor 3
  • Death 4
  • References 5


Catherine Baker was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of McKees Rocks,[4] the daughter of Nick Baker, a successful man who later served as mayor of McKees Rocks[4] and Teresa May (one of eleven children). She was one of nine children, one of five girls and four boys. While a graduate at Duquesne University in 1952, she met and married Charles A. Knoll, a restaurateur and hotel owner 17 years her senior,[4] who became the Postmaster of the Stowe, Kennedy, and McKees Rocks area. Charles Knoll and Catherine had three sons and one daughter. Their names are Charles A. Knoll Jr., Mina Baker Knoll, Albert Baker Knoll, and Kim Eric Knoll.[4]

Knoll began her political career as a campaign worker for local and statewide Democratic candidates, first for her father, Nick, and later for Governor Milton Shapp. When Shapp was elected governor in 1970, he awarded Knoll a job with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

State Treasurer

In 1976, she ran for the Democratic nomination for State Treasurer but lost to Robert E. Casey, who was unrelated to, but often confused with Bob Casey who went on to become Governor of Pennsylvania.[4] She ran again in 1984 but lost a close primary in which her opponent, Auditor General Al Benedict, originally conceded on election night but later withdrew his concession.[4] In 1988, one year after her husband's death, she ran a third time and was elected State Treasurer of Pennsylvania.[4]

She streamlined and modernized the Treasurer's office during her eight-year tenure and started the Pennsylvania TAP program (Tuition Account Program),[4] built the PA Treasury Investment Center,[4] and started a partnership with PA Home Builders, PA Community Banks, to build PA Affordable Housing in 67 counties of Pennsylvania) according to the population of each county.

In 1994, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into Knoll and her staff after four state consultants reaped improper fees from a prison bond issue.[4] Knoll claimed that the official paperwork had been altered after she signed off on the plan.[4] Knoll was never charged with a crime but the well-publicized inquiry hurt her politically. However, the four state consultants were found guilty and served prison time.

Catherine Baker Knoll ran for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1994, having surprised Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel, by first withdrawing from the race and then hinting that she would consider running if the Democratic State Committee did not endorse anyone for the race.[4] The State Committee voted to endorse no candidate and Knoll re-entered the race only to finish third in a seven-way primary.[4]

In 1996, Knoll, who was term limited, endorsed her daughter Mina Baker Knoll as her successor. Mina Knoll's opponent, Republican Barbara Hafer questioned her residency status because she had lived in New York City and the Knoll campaign attacked Hafer's leadership.[4] The race, which Hafer won, opened a rift between the two women that culminated in 2000 when Knoll ran against Hafer for Treasurer.[4] Hafer won the election by less than 100,000 votes.[4]

Lieutenant governor

Rendell and Baker Knoll

In 2002, she sought the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor. She won the nomination over endorsed candidate, State Senator Jack Wagner and insurgent State Senator Allen Kukovich. Knoll was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor on January 21, 2003. She was the first woman to hold that position.

Knoll was criticized by many in the Pennsylvania political community for her controversial remarks and actions.[5] The Pennsylvania Report said that "she puts you to sleep when she speaks and is a throwback to the old glory days of the Pennsylvania Democrat Party."[6] She became known for her gaffes during public events such as referring to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell as Edward G. Robinson. The speech writer admitted he printed in Lieutenant Governor Knoll’s speech her introducing the governor as Edward G. Robinson.[5] She was also known for her alleged difficulties in presiding over the Pennsylvania State Senate during late night sessions,[5] and an incident in which Lt. Governor Knoll visited the funeral of a Pennsylvania U.S. Marine who died in the Iraq War.[5] The controversy surrounding Knoll's comments at the funeral, and her passing her business cards to relatives received nationwide attention.[5][7] Knoll apologized and Rendell said that she was only there to help the family.[5][7]

These incidents led many to speculate that Governor Rendell would attempt to stop Knoll's renomination for the 2006 elections, but Rendell continued to support Knoll.

In November 2005, Senator and former Lieutenant Governor Bob Jubelirer proposed legislation in which the Lieutenant Governor's primary election would be dropped in favor of the gubernatorial candidate selecting a "running mate" in the November general election, similar to a presidential candidate selecting a running mate for the Presidential elections.

Despite her critics, Knoll maintained a key base of supporters. She was popular with voters in Pennsylvania's southwest,[5] with many women, and with senior citizens.

Four candidates announced bids against Knoll in the 2006 Democratic primary: former Congressman and US Senate candidate Joe Hoeffel, the current Recorder of Deeds of Allegheny County Valerie McDonald-Roberts, Robert Hall, III and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania political activist Gene Stilp. Governor Rendell endorsed Knoll in the race.

Rendell said at first that he would not involve himself in the race, but only a day after Hoeffel announced his bid, the Governor changed his mind and asked the former Congressman to withdraw. Hoeffel would later state that Rendell came to the conclusion that he needed the geographic balance that Knoll provided for the Democratic ticket.

On May 16, 2006, Knoll won the Democratic nomination by a large margin. On November 7, 2006, she and Governor Rendell defeated Republican challengers Lynn Swann and Jim Matthews.


In August 2008, Knoll revealed that she had been diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer and was in treatment for the disease.[8] She was treated in Hershey, Pennsylvania at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and attempted a return to her duties in September 2008 but fatigue forced her to return home.[9] In October 2008, she entered Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland for treatment of a viral infection.[9] On November 12, 2008, Knoll died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Upon her death, Pennsylvania State Senate President pro tempore Joe Scarnati became the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania.


  1. ^  
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Johnna A. Pro (2003-01-12). "Catherine Baker Knoll is making history as first female lieutenant governor". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Tom Barnes (2006-10-15). "Knoll keeping lower profile this year". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  6. ^ "The PA Report "Power 75" List" (PDF).  
  7. ^ a b  
  8. ^ "Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll Reveals Cancer Fight". WTAE TV. 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  9. ^ a b Amy Worden (2008-10-17). "Pa.'s Lt. Gov. Knoll being treated for cancer". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Davis Greene
Treasurer of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Barbara Hafer
Preceded by
Robert Jubelirer
Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Joe Scarnati
Party political offices
Preceded by
Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
2002, 2006
Succeeded by
Scott Conklin
Preceded by
Mina Baker Knoll
Democratic nominee for Treasurer of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Bob Casey, Jr.
Preceded by
Al Benedict
Democratic nominee for Treasurer of Pennsylvania
1988, 1992
Succeeded by
Mina Baker Knoll
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