Elizabeth Holtzman (born August 11, 1941) is an American Democratic politician. As of 2005, she was the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress, elected at the age of 31. In 1972, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for New York's 16th Congressional District, defeating - in the Democratic primary - Judiciary Committee chairman Emanuel Celler, a fifty-year incumbent and the House's longest serving member at that time. Later victorious in the November general election, she served from January of 1973 until January of 1981. During her tenure, Holtzman was considered a staunch liberal. She served on the House's Judiciary Committee as that panel held impeachment hearings on the activities of President Richard Nixon in the summer of 1974. In 1978, her House Joint Resolution No. 638 was approved by the 95th Congress, which purported to extend the originally agreed-upon deadline for the state legislatures to ratify the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. She also served on the House Budget Committee and as Chairwoman of the House Immigration Subcommittee.
Holtzman was the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1980, having defeated such luminaries as former Miss America Bess Myerson, former New York City Mayor John Lindsay, and Queens District Attorney John Santucci in the Democratic primary. She ran against Republican challenger Al D'Amato and incumbent Senator Jacob Javits on the Liberal Party ticket. Holtzman was narrowly defeated by D'Amato, a loss many observers attributed to Javits' splitting with her the liberal and Jewish votes.
In 1981, Holtzman made a comeback, winning election as District Attorney in Kings County (Brooklyn), a post she was reelected to in 1985. While district attorney, she formed new bureaus to focus on sex crimes and domestic violence, along with children's issues. She won citywide office when she was elected New York City Comptroller in 1989. She has said that she first considered a race for Mayor of New York in 1989 before deciding to seek the comptroller's post instead. Holtzman viewed the comptroller's post as an extension of her work in Congress and as district attorney.
In 1992, Holtzman sought the Democratic nomination to again challenge D'Amato; she lost the primary to New York Attorney General Bob Abrams, who was himself defeated by the Republican incumbent in the November general election. This was a bitter primary in which Holtzman faced not only Abrams, but former Representative and 1984 vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. Holtzman finished fourth in the primary, behind Abrams, and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Accusations were raised about Holtzman's association with Fleet Bank, charges which came back to haunt her in 1993 when she was defeated in an attempt to retain her office as Comptroller. The Senate race was marked by a high amount of rancor in the debates with Holtzman frequently sparring with Ferraro on ethics issues.
During Holtzman's 1993 reelection race for city comptroller she faced Assemblyman Alan Hevesi and former Congressman Herman Badillo in the Democratic primary. Badillo was also the Republican nominee for comptroller on a fusion ticket with mayoral nominee Rudolph Giuliani. The Fleet Bank loan from the Senate race was made an issue by Hevesi and Badillo and lead to Holtzman dropping in the polls, which had showed her an easy winner for reelection. In the primary, Holtzman finished first but was forced into a runoff with Hevesi. Hevesi defeated Holtzman in the runoff primary and went on to defeat Badillo in the general election.
Holtzman now practices law in New York City. She has written a memoir (ISBN 1559703024) called Who Said it Would be Easy: One Woman's Life in the Political Arena and is currently serving on a commission investigating the connections of the OSS and CIA with Nazis in the post-World War II period. On January 11, 2006 The Nation published an essay by Holtzman calling for the impeachment of U.S. President George W. Bush for authorizing "the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."