Mary Donohue

Mary Donohue
Mary Donohue
73rd Lieutenant Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1999 – December 31, 2006
Governor George Pataki
Preceded by Betsy McCaughey Ross
Succeeded by David Paterson
Personal details
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Anthony Ricci
Profession Teacher and Lawyer

Mary O’Connor Donohue is a Judge of the New York Court of Claims and a former Lieutenant Governor of New York State. She was first elected lieutenant governor in 1998 and reelected 2002 on a ticket with Gov. George Pataki.[1]


Teaching and legal career

Donohue is a former teacher and lawyer who was once an aide to State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.[2] She graduated from The College of New Rochelle and received a master's degree in Education from Russell Sage College. In 1983, she received a law degree from Albany Law School.[1]

In addition to working for Bruno, Donohue was an assistant county attorney in Rensselaer County. During her time in the county attorney's office, she worked on Family Court and juvenile justice issues.[1]

District Attorney and Judge

Donohue served as the District Attorney of Rensselaer County for several years in the 1990s. During her two terms as district attorney, she prosecuted over 5000 cases a year. She handled several cases herself. In 1996 she was elected as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court.[2] While serving as a state judge, Donohue handled both civil and criminal cases. She resigned from her judgeship in 1998 when Pataki picked her as a running mate.[1]

Lieutenant governor

Donohue was sworn in as lieutenant governor on January 1, 1999, replacing former Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey Ross. She was not known to be a powerful lieutenant governor or to enjoy a close relationship with Pataki. She has been loyal to Pataki and never publicly opposed him, unlike her predecessor.

In 2005 it was reported that she was spending less time in Albany, because of her dissatisfaction with Pataki and her hope that he would leave office early and make her governor. Donohue denied these rumors.

School violence

When she became lieutenant governor, Pataki appointed Donohue to head a special task force on school violence issues.<refname=audubon/> He said he designated Donohue to head the task force, because of her background as a teacher and district attorney. According to her state website, Donohue spent a year traveling the state meeting with teachers, parents, students, and law enforcement to discuss school violence issues. As a part of her work, Donohue formulated a series of recommendations which were signed into law by Pataki in 2000.

Since 1999, Donohue has spent time traveling the state promoting school violence prevention and to implement the recommendations of her task force. In 2005, Donohue led a state program, comprising several agencies, to determine best practices in the area of school violence prevention. Part of the recommendations made by Donohue's task force include giving teacher authority to have disruptive students removed from classrooms, creating character education curricula in school districts, and making violence against a teacher in a classroom a felony.

Quality Communities

In 2000, Pataki appointed Donohue to chair a task force looking in quality communities in New York.[1] Donohue's task force met around the state to discuss land use policies, economic development and growth issues. The panel issued 41 recommendations regarding preserving community character statewide. Since the conclusion of the task force, Donohue has served as Chairwoman of the Quality Communities Working Group, which oversees implementation of the task force's recommendations and the awarding of quality communities grants to towns statewide. As a part of this, Donohue is in charge of the Quality Communities Clearinghouse.

According to the website for the Quality Communities Clearinghouse, Donohue's panel made recommendations in the areas of neighborhood preservation, open space conservation, farmland preservation, economic development, land use planning, transportation, and technology. Donohue has traveled the state hosting roundtable discussion on quality communities issues since 2000. In this role she has worked with Secretraies of State Alexander Treadwell, Randy Daniels, and Christopher Jacobs on local government issues.

Small business, aging, homeland security and criminal justice

In 2001, Donohue was the chairwoman of a task force on small business issues in the state. In this role, she met with small business owners and developed policy recommendations for governor on these issues. During her second term, Donohue has frequently traveled the state promoting homeland security issues, drunk driving prevention, and criminal justice issues.

In 2005, Donohue was named by Pataki as the Chairwoman of the New York State Delegation to the White House Conference on Aging. In the lead up to the conference, Donohue held a series of community meetings around the state on aging issues.

Statewide campaigns


In 1997, Pataki announced that he was dropping Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey Ross from his 1998 reelection ticket. Pataki and McCaughey Ross had feuded for much of his term. McCaughey Ross would later become a Democrat and run unsuccessfully for governor in 1998.

Following Pataki's announcement regarding McCaughey Ross, Donohue was reported as a possible replacement running mate. In addition, State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro, State Sen. Mary Lou Rath and Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples were reported as possible running mates. In the spring of 1998, Pataki announced his selection of Donohue.

In the 1998 general election, the Pataki/Donohue ticket defeated the Democratic ticket of New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone for governor and Brighton Town Supervisor Sandra Frankel for lieutenant governor.


In 2002 there were reports that Donohue was being pushed out by Pataki as his running mate. The reports said that either Secretary of State Randy Daniels or Erie County Executive Joel Giambra would replace her on the Pataki ticket. Donohue beat back the challenge. There were reports that she was offered the GOP nomination for state attorney general to challenge Eliot Spitzer in 2002, so that she would not seek reelection. She declined this nomination, which went to Judge Dora Irizarry instead.

In September 2002 Donohue and Pataki fought to win the nomination of the New York State Independence Party. Donohue won her primary, but Pataki lost to Rochester businessman Tom Golisano. This made Donohue both the running mate of Pataki and Golisano in the November election and made her the officeholder to capture the most votes in New York State in 2002.

The Pataki/Donohue ticket defeated the Democratic ticket of State Comptroller Carl McCall for governor and businessman Dennis Mehiel for lieutenant governor.


After Pataki announced in 2005 that he would not seek reelection, Donohue was seen as a possible candidate for governor. However, she later announced that she would not run for office in 2006 either.

Federal judgeship nomination

On March 3, 2006, Donohue informed reporters that her name had been submitted by Pataki to President George W. Bush for nomination to a United States District Court judgeship in Upstate New York.[3] On June 27, 2006, the White House announced that Donohue has been nominated to the judgeship. Her nomination went to the U.S. Senate for confirmation, where it was not brought up by the Senate Judiciary Committee before the 109th Congress adjourned on December 10, 2006. Sen. Charles Schumer indicated that he did not see Donohue's nomination being able to be confirmed by the United States Senate in the 110th Congress, when the Democrats have the Senate majority.

State Court of Claims

On December 13, 2006, Pataki nominated her to a seat as a Judge of the New York Court of Claims.[4] She was confirmed that day by the State Senate for term expiring in March 2015. Court of Claims Judges preside over lawsuits against the State of New York and various independent state agencies. She took office as a judge after her term as lieutenant governor expired at midnight on December 31, 2006. She retired from the Court of Claims in May, 2009.[5]

State tickets Donohue has run on

1998 NYS Republican and Conservative Party Tickets

2002 NYS Republican and Conservative Party Tickets

2002 NYS Independence Party Ticket

  • Governor: B. Thomas Golisano
  • Lieutenant Governor: Mary Donohue
  • Comptroller: John Faso
  • Attorney General: Eliot Spitzer

Electoral history


Political offices
Preceded by
Betsy McCaughey Ross
Lieutenant Governor of New York
Succeeded by
David Paterson
Party political offices
Preceded by
Laureen Oliver
Independence Party Nominee
for Lieutenant Governor of New York

Succeeded by
David Paterson
Preceded by
Betsy McCaughey Ross
Republican Party Nominee
for Lieutenant Governor of New York

1998 and 2002
Succeeded by
C. Scott Vanderhoef

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