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West Wing Wiki

John Hoynes is an American politician of the Democratic Party, who served as Vice President of the United States under Josiah Bartlet from 1999 to 2003, when he resigned due to a sex scandal. He returned to the political arena as a strong contender in the 2006 United States Presidential Election, and again his ambition was dashed by another sex scandal.

Prior to his Vice Presidency, he served as a U.S. Senator from Texas.


Hoynes is in many ways the counterweight to Jed Bartlet, the moderate pragmatist to the President's 'ivory tower idealism'. This, however, makes him similar to Leo McGarry and potentially overlooked because much of what he might have brought has already been provided by the Chief of Staff. Like Bartlet, he draws a thick black line between his professional role and obligations and his private life. He and McGarry have some lulls in their rolling battle, often engendered by a recognition of their mutual alcoholism, and its consequences.

Hoynes in his resignation shows a willingness to shoulder the responsibility for his actions and their outcomes which belies the glad-handing figure has sometimes appeared to be. Despite being, in general, a consummate politician, and thus playing to his audience, John Hoynes on occasion sticks to his guns irrespective of the cost because he is passionate of his position.


Pre-Vice Presidency[]

Hoynes' home town was Abilene, west Texas.[2] He was born in the 1950s.[3] Hoynes was a lawyer, but made his money in the oil industry. He was elected to the US Senate for Texas in 1990 and re-elected in 1996. Hoynes had served on the Judiciary Committee with conservative Senator Sam Wilkinson (R-KS), consistently voted against ethanol subsidies and was one of few Democrats to sponsor Social Security reform legislation (but was reluctant to talk about it in his 1998 campaign, calling Social Security the "third rail of American politics").

By the end of 1997, Hoynes was the presumptive favorite for the Democratic Presidential nomination in the 1998 election, with a $58 million dollar war chest and a lead in the Iowa Caucuses, despite his opposition to ethanol subsidies. After a long primary battle, Hoynes lost the nomination to New Hampshire Governor Josiah Bartlet. Incidentally, he started losing momentum in that campaign exactly when Josh Lyman, his chief strategist, quit and defected to the Bartlet operation. During the Democratic National Convention, Bartlet invited Hoynes to his hotel room to ask him to join the ticket as his running mate. Bartlet counted on Hoynes to deliver the South, but eventually lost Texas in the general election, possibly due to Texans taking offense to Bartlet's then-frequent jokes about the Lone Star State. In an attempt to show that he trusted him, Bartlet disclosed to Hoynes that he had multiple sclerosis. Hoynes refused to give Bartlet an answer immediately but eventually accepted. Leo McGarry had initially advised Bartlet to select Hoynes as running mate, a choice with which Lyman and the other top campaign staff members agreed.

Bartlet's Terms and 2006 run[]

Hoynes frequently complained he was sidelined as vice president. In 2000, he objected to being asked to break a Senate tie on the ethanol subsidies, due to his longstanding personal opposition. He objected to being sent to Texas to call for gun control in 2001, but did however help secure a crucial win for the Bartlet Administration's gun bill in 1999. While generally regarded as a competent political operator, in 2004 the Bartlet-Russell White House were prepared to cite a number of gaffes Hoynes made during his vice presidency in order to prevent him discrediting the administration in a tell-all book. These included a "mess he made with Mexico on immigration," legislative errors with an Energy Bill and a Transport Bill, and managing to "offend 7 South American heads of states in a five-day trip."

Hoynes leaked classified information to a Washington, D.C. socialite named Helen Baldwin, a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair. He told her that he had seen evidence of life on Mars. Hoynes later confessed, "I like to show off." When President Bartlet asked Hoynes if he was in a position to deny the affair, Hoynes informed him that he was resigning the Vice Presidency. President Bartlet and White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry tried to convince him not to, but he insisted, partly because he never really liked the vice presidency and also because he wished to spare his family further pain.[4]

Hoynes received a $5 million advance to write a tell-all book entitled Full Disclosure.[5] Its aim was to repair his image so that he could run for president the 2006 Election. He did an interview with Diane Mathers, his wife by his side, as part of this effort. His candidacy was announced shortly after; however, he was unable to convince his 1998 campaign strategist Josh Lyman to run his campaign, instead recruiting Dylan Clark.[6]

During the primaries it was revealed that Hoynes had made inappropriate sexual advances to a Georgetown University senior while still a senator. In response California Governor Tillman endorsed Matt Santos instead of Hoynes, effectively ending Hoynes's campaign.[7] He made another play for the nomination during the Democratic National Convention that year as a "voice of experience" amid the chaos, though Josh tried to convince him to throw his support behind Santos. In the end he lost the nomination to Santos.[8] Hoynes would later attend Leo McGarry's funeral service.[9]


Hoynes was a leading moderate Democrat and a member of the Democratic Leadership Council, and boasted that he was once "every Republican's favorite Democrat". He had strong corporate ties, particularly to the oil industry - as a result was the strongest fundraiser the party had ever seen, but also an opponent of campaign finance reform. C.J. Cregg and Toby Ziegler speculated that if he ran as a third-party candidate for president, he would be able to draw upon "his own base of conservative Democrats and populist Independents". Senate Minority Leader Wendell Tripplehorn objected to Hoynes' stances on guns, trade and school choice, fearing he would "drag the party to the middle" after the presidency of the more liberal Bartlet. As a senator he was sometimes critical of free trade, in contrast to primary opponent Bartlet's supportive view, though Josh Lyman characterized this as "mostly politics". He is a proponent of more opportunities for technology use in rural areas, and federal government legislation funding that. He believes that the second amendment is archaic, but is disinclined to support harsh gun restrictions. He has avoided explicitly endorsing constitutional changes or legislation prohibiting gay marriage but has not endorsed legalizing it (saying the issue deserves "thoughtful study"). In his 2006 presidential campaign, he emphasized character education in the education system, called for military action against Iran, and reversed his previous longstanding opposition to ethanol subsidies in Iowa.

Personal Life[]

Hoynes speaks fluent French and is a recovering alcoholic, although this latter is a closely guarded secret.[10] He attended Southern Methodist University and was a lawyer, but made his money in the oil industry. He has several children and is in his second marriage, to wife Suzanne.

White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg correctly inferred that Hoynes was a womanizer long before he became the Vice President. They had a one-night stand ten years before the fifth season, in which she noted his practiced approach suggested he probably was hiding a long list of mistresses.[5] This conversation foreshadowed the second sex scandal that sank his presidential campaign.




  • Lawyer in San Antonio, Texas
  • Head Counsel for Connex Energy
  • After Resignation: Partner in Washington, D.C. law firm


  • 1991-1999: US Senator for Texas
  • early 1998: Democratic Presidential Candidate
  • late 1998: Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee
  • 1999-2003: Vice President of the United States
  • 2006: Democratic Presidential Candidate

Behind the scenes[]

Similarities to Lyndon Johnson

It has been noted that the character Hoynes has some parallels to former President Lyndon Johnson. Like Johnson, Hoynes is a U.S. Senator from Texas and became Democratic floor leader after serving in the Senate for a short time. Also like Johnson, Hoynes ran for the Democratic nomination for President, only to be defeated by a New England Democrat. In Johnson's case, this was U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy, in Hoynes' case this was New Hampshire, Governor Josiah Bartlet. Johnson was also in the race with a western Democrat Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, similarly, Hoynes was running against Senator William Wiley of Washington.

Hoynes, like Johnson, became the candidate for vice president after Bartlet begged him to accept in order to gain support in the South and win the general election. Hoynes was treated dismissively by members of the Bartlet administration. Johnson was treated similarly by JFK, members of the administration and Kennedy family.

Unlike Johnson and Kennedy, however, Hoynes served in a time when a politician's marital infidelity was aggressively reported by mainstream media outlets.


  1. John states he’s “15 years” younger than Bartlett, who was born in 1942.
  2. Commencement
  3. CJ says in Bartlet for America that Bartlet has "10 years on Hoynes", but Hoynes himself states in Enemies he is actually 15 years younger than Bartlet (himself thought to be born in the early 1940s)
  4. Life On Mars
  5. 5.0 5.1 Full Disclosure
  6. A Change Is Gonna Come
  7. La Palabra
  8. 2162 Votes
  9. Requiem
  10. Stirred

1 Elected but never served. 2 Designated as VP, but unconfirmed.
bartlet cabinet
Vice President   John HoynesBob Russell
Secretary of State   Lewis Berryhill
Secretary of the Treasury   Ken KatoKaren Browning
Secretary of Defense   Miles Hutchinson
Attorney General   Dan LarsonAlan Fisk
Secretary of the Interior   Bill Horton
Secretary of Agriculture   Roger Tribbey
Secretary of Commerce   Mitch Bryce
Secretary of Labor   Carl ReidJack Buckland
Secretary of Health and Human Services   Blieden
Secretary of Education   Jim Kane
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development   Deborah O'LearyBill Fisher
Secretary of Transportation   Keaton
Secretary of Energy   Bill TrotterBen ZaharianGerald Deloit
Secretary of Veterans Affairs   Jason Weaver
White House Chief of Staff   Leo McGarryC.J. Cregg
Director of Central Intelligence   TomRob KonradGeorge Rollie

Hoynes (D)
Cor | Fields (D) | Lien (D) | Santos (D) | Tillinghouse (D)

Senate Majority Leader
prior to 1999
eventually Jack Moseley
Democratic Candidate for Vice President of the United States
1998, 2002
Leo McGarry
Vice President of the United States
Bob Russell