Rep. Jim McGovern (D)
Elected: 1996, 7th term.
Born: Nov. 20, 1959, Worcester .
Education: American U., B.A. 1981, M.P.A. 1984.
Family: Married (Lisa); 2 children.
Professional Career: Aide, U.S. Sen. George McGovern, 1977-80; Sr. aide, U.S. Rep. Joseph Moakley, 1982–96.
The congressman from the 3rd District is Jim McGovern, a Democrat first elected in 1996. McGovern grew up in Worcester, where his parents owned a liquor store. He attended American University in Washington, and, while in graduate school, he worked in the office of then-Sen. George McGovern (no relation), a South Dakota Democrat. He ran McGovern’s 1984 campaign in the Massachusetts presidential primary, where the senator finished third with 21% of the vote. He also nominated McGovern at the Democratic convention in San Francisco. He went to work as an aide to Boston-area Rep. Joe Moakley’s office and became chief of staff just as Moakley ascended to chairman of the Rules Committee. McGovern got into the spotlight himself, leading a 1989 investigation of the murders of six Jesuits and two lay women in El Salvador, which led to a cutoff of U.S. aid to the country. In 1994, he ran for the House and lost in the Democratic primary, 38%-30%. In 1996, he ran again, this time with no primary opposition. In the general election, two-term Republican Rep. Peter Blute stressed his “independence” from the conservative Republican leadership in the House and attacked McGovern for liberal stands on abortion rights and Cuba. McGovern ran a humorous spot that asked, ‘‘If you wouldn’t vote for Newt, why would you ever vote for Blute?’’ At age 36, McGovern won, 53%-45%.
|Jim McGovern (D)||227,619||(98%)||($848,694)|
|Jim McGovern (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (100%), 2004 (71%), 2002 (100%), 2000 (100%), 1998 (57%), 1996 (53%)
With deft maneuvers reflecting his Capitol Hill experience, McGovern has positioned himself to become a power broker in the Democratic majority. In 2001, the dying Moakley personally asked Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt to help McGovern get a seat on Rules, which schedules most legislation for the House floor. As it turned out, the next seat went to Florida’s Alcee Hastings, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, but McGovern got a commitment for the next available Democratic seat, with seniority over Hastings. On Rules, he immediately showed familiarity with House procedures. As the No. 2 Democrat and in the majority for the first time, he said he gladly moved from “being a pain in the ass [in the minority] to more of an advocate for respect, inclusion, and fairness.” With the roles reversed, he showed a sharp partisan edge as he embraced parliamentary maneuvers that led to cries of outrage from House Republicans. McGovern conceded, “We’re not as open as I’d like,” and said that Democratic leaders should be more willing to lose a few votes for the sake of inclusion. He also took a seat on the Budget Committee. With his considerable leverage, he became a party leader on strategizing Iraq war policy, though with little immediate success. In February 2007, he sponsored a bill to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in six months. The House defeated it in May on a surprisingly close 255-171 vote. In October 2007, he along with Democrats David Obey of Wisconsin and John Murtha of Pennsylvania proposed a war surtax, but Democratic leaders rejected it. In June 2008, McGovern called for the United Nations to replace U.S. forces in Iraq. The House Judiciary Committee in July 2008 approved his bill to prevent the summary deportation of foreign spouses of deceased U.S. citizens.
McGovern has a solid liberal voting record. He is a member of the Cuba Working Group, which has called for easing sanctions against the Castro regime. He has won bipartisan House votes to lift the travel ban to the island. He contends that the U.S. embargo has not achieved its goal of improving human rights and the economic situation in Cuba, and that only a change in policy, not continued sanctions, will improve living conditions and foment democratic reforms there. He also worked to release U.S. hostages held by the Colombian militant group FARC months before their July 2008 liberation in a government-led effort. Citing human rights violations, he has been a leading opponent of the U.S. free trade deal with Colombia. As the co-chair of the Human Rights Caucus, he called for a U.S. boycott of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. McGovern chairs the Congressional Hunger Center, and in 2007 he participated in a one-week “food stamp challenge” in which he spent no more than $21 on food. He has pushed for more spending on international nutrition and for less support of biofuels, which he says have driven up food costs.
On issues affecting his district, McGovern led opposition to a proposed liquefied natural gas plant on the Taunton River. The Coast Guard ruled that the river was not safe for LNG tankers and blocked construction. In December 2007, he got $750,000 to redevelop the Blackstone Canal between Worcester and Providence. Although Republicans held this seat not long ago, they have given up on it. McGovern was unopposed in four of the past five congressional elections.