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Democrat

Sen. Mark Udall (D)

Mark Udall Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-224-5941

Address: 730 HSOB, DC 20510

Mark Udall Committees
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Mark Udall Biography
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  • Elected: 2008, term expires 2014, 1st term.
  • State: Colorado
  • Born: Jul. 18, 1950, Tucson, AZ
  • Home: Eldorado Springs
  • Education:

    Williams Col., B.A. 1972

  • Professional Career:

    CO Outward Bound, course dir., 1975-85, exec. dir., 1985-95.

  • Political Career:

    CO House, 1996-98; U.S. House, 1998-2008.

  • Religion:

    no religious affiliation

  • Family: Married (Maggie L. Fox); 2 children

Mark Udall, Colorado’s senior senator, is a Democrat first elected to the House in 1998 and to the Senate in 2008. He is best known for his work on energy and environmental issues and as an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's domestic surveillance policies. He found himself locked in a tight re-election race against Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in 2014. Read More

Mark Udall, Colorado’s senior senator, is a Democrat first elected to the House in 1998 and to the Senate in 2008. He is best known for his work on energy and environmental issues and as an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's domestic surveillance policies. He found himself locked in a tight re-election race against Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in 2014.

Udall grew up in Tucson, Ariz., in a family with deep political roots in the West. His grandfather, Levi Stewart Udall, a Republican, was a justice on Arizona’s Supreme Court from 1947 to 1960. An uncle, Democrat Stewart Udall, was the representative from the Tucson district from 1955 to 1961 and then secretary of the Interior for eight years. Stewart was succeeded in the House by Morris Udall, Mark’s father, who served from 1961 until 1991. He was the longtime Democratic chairman of the Interior Committee and an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1976. As a child, Mark listened in on living room conversations between his father and prominent political figures like Robert Kennedy and Supreme Court Justice William Douglas. In Tucson, the two Udall brothers lived a bike-ride apart, and young Mark used to ride over to see Stewart’s son, cousin Tom Udall, who was elected to the Senate from New Mexico in 2008. Mark Udall says he and his cousin have been as close as brothers throughout their lives.

Udall graduated from Williams College in 1972. The same year, he was arrested for possession of marijuana, and after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, moved to Boulder, Colo., where he worked for the Colorado Outward Bound School and became an accomplished mountaineer. He has climbed Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, and Kanchenjunga, the third-highest peak in the world, and he has scaled the north face, though he did not reach the top, of Mount Everest. (In 2014, his office said Udall had climbed all but one of Colorado's 100 tallest mountains.) He was executive director of the school from 1985 to 1995. In 1996, Udall ran for the state House and with his family’s connections raised 40% of his money out of state and won. When 2nd District Democratic Rep. David Skaggs retired in 1998, Udall ran for his seat against Republican Bob Greenlee, the mayor of Boulder. Udall stressed environmental protection, growth management, and education. Greenlee was popular in usually Democratic Boulder. But Udall won Boulder, and he defeated Greenlee 50%-47%.

In the House, Udall compiled a mostly liberal voting record. On environmental issues, he opposed allowing states to designate roads in wilderness areas, but dismayed some local environmental groups by supporting cutbacks in forests to combat infestation by bark beetles and to reduce the threat of wildfires. In 2004, he championed Colorado’s Amendment 37, which imposed a renewable energy standard on the state, and he helped persuade the U.S. House to pass renewable energy standards in 2007. Udall served on the House Armed Services Committee and voted against the Iraq war resolution in October 2002, citing his father’s regret over supporting the Tonkin Gulf resolution in 1964. But by May 2007, he had softened his anti-war stance somewhat, voting in favor of funding for the war and against an amendment that called for troops to be withdrawn within 180 days. In response, anti-war protesters stormed his Washington office and were arrested.

Udall was often mentioned as a contender for statewide office. In 2003, he declined to challenge Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, but the following year, when Campbell suddenly announced he would retire, Udall entered the race. Within 24 hours, however, under pressure from Democrats who thought they needed a more moderate candidate, Udall dropped out and endorsed state Attorney General Ken Salazar, who went on to win the Senate seat in 2004. But Udall made it clear he would run for the Senate seat up in 2008, when Republican Sen. Wayne Allard would be at the end of the two terms he promised to serve.

Udall was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Former Rep. Scott McInnis, considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination, dropped out of the race, which cleared the way for former Rep. Bob Schaffer, who retired from the House in 2002 in line with his pledge to serve only three terms. In 2004, Schaffer ran for the Senate and lost the nomination to beer company executive Pete Coors. So, two candidates who were passed over in the 2004 Senate race faced each other in 2008.

There was a fairly sharp contrast between the candidates’ views. Republicans constantly referred to Udall as a “Boulder liberal,” while Democrats referred to Schaffer as “Big Oil Bob.” Udall emphasized his support of renewable energy sources, but said he also supported clean coal development and nuclear power. In July 2008, he endorsed additional forms of recreation beyond skiing, such as mountain biking and concerts, in ski-permit areas on U.S. Forest Service land. Schaffer, who had earlier in his career attacked conservation programs as infringement on property rights, cited his work after he left Congress on seismic technology. And he said he supported renewable energy. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ran an ad criticizing Schaffer for supporting tax breaks for energy companies and then subsequently earning $800,000 as an oil-company executive.

Then in May 2008, gas prices hit $4 a gallon, and public opinion shifted in favor of offshore oil drilling. Schaffer attacked Udall for his longstanding opposition to offshore drilling. In August, as Congress was about to adjourn, Udall cast one of the last votes for the Democratic leadership’s move to adjourn without, as Republicans demanded, voting on offshore drilling. In mid-August he switched and supported proposals for offshore and more domestic drilling, a move that Schaffer derided as a “fig leaf.”

Udall won 53%-42%, while Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was carrying the state 54%-45%. Schaffer ran well ahead in Colorado Springs, in exurban Douglas County and the Eastern Plains, and also in mining areas on the Western Slope. But Udall strongly carried the other Denver suburbs, and his big margins in ski resort areas and Pueblo enabled him to carry the 3rd Congressional District, something many Democrats feared impossible. It was the widest margin for a Democrat in a Colorado Senate race since Gary Hart’s victory in 1974.

When home-state colleague Ken Salazar was confirmed as Interior secretary and resigned from the Senate in early 2009, Udall became a senior senator after just 16 days as a junior senator. His new cohort was Michael Bennet, the Denver schools chief who was appointed to replace Salazar in the Senate. Udall and Bennet voted together on many issues, and Udall endorsed Bennet for a full term when he ran for election to the seat in 2010. Like other Western Democrats, they depart from their party on gun issues. In May 2009, they supported an amendment to allow guns in national parks, and in July 2009, they supported one to allow holders of concealed weapons permits in one state to possess guns in states that have reciprocal laws. In June 2011, Udall introduced a measure giving more federal money to improve safety at public shooting ranges, though it failed to get traction. But on another divisive social issue, Udall joined most Democrats in 2010 in supporting repeal of the ban on openly gay service personnel in the military.

Udall has broken with most Democrats in proposing an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget. Though this has mainly been a pet issue for conservative Republicans and tea party activists, Udall has insisted that the national debt is a threat to U.S. national security. In December 2011, Udall’s bill was offered alongside a Republican version by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Hatch’s bill contained stricter spending restrictions and was defeated, 47-53. Udall’s amendment contained a clause preventing income tax reductions for millionaires and was rejected, 21-79.

Energy issues are important to Colorado, and Udall is active in that realm. In spring 2010, as the Senate debated a major energy bill to cap carbon emissions, he expressed support for bipartisan versions of the bill and emphasized the importance of carbon pricing. “If you don’t put a price on carbon, you don’t unleash this job creation engine that all the economists tell us will unfold if we put a price on carbon,” he said. Having supported “responsible and environmentally sensitive offshore oil drilling” in 2008, he called for closer regulation of offshore apparatus after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. “This is a case where we ought to trust, but we ought to verify,” Udall said. After China cut off sales of rare earth minerals in the fall of 2010, Udall called for the reopening of a shuttered rare earth mineral mine in California owned by the Colorado firm Molycorp.

Colorado is also the nation’s largest beer-producing state, and Udall has pushed legislation to slash excise taxes paid by breweries. To promote credit access for small businesses, also important in the state, Udall introduced a bill in September 2012 to increase the lending authority cap for credit unions from 12.25% to 27.5% of assets.

With a seat on the Armed Services Committee, Udall has supported the Obama administration’s policies on Iraq and Afghanistan, and also voted for the New START treaty with Russia. He said, “Failure to ratify the treaty would make the broad ‘resetting’ of U.S.-Russian relations harder. The distrust it would engender would also reduce or even eliminate the possibility of further bilateral strategic weapons reductions.”

As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Udall has been skeptical of expanded surveillance powers. In August 2011, Udall and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. offered an amendment requiring the Justice Department inspector general to estimate how many Americans have had emails and phone conversations monitored. The committee defeated the amendment. When Congress tried to automatically mandate that the Obama administration hold certain terrorism suspects in military custody, Udall offered an amendment to block the provision until a study was conducted. But his bill was voted down, 38-60, in November 2011.

When former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden set off a furor with his revelations about the NSA's domestic snooping, Udall called on the Obama administration to overhaul its practices. "It’s time to have real reform, not a veneer of reform," he said in December 2013. He also was one of a group of senators to call for the firing of CIA Director John Brennan after an inspector general's report revealed in July 2014 that the agency improperly accessed Senate computers that were being used to research detention and interrogation practices. On a separate matter, Udall also was the first Democrat to call for Veterans' Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign after scandals emerged at the VA.

Udall was regarded as a strong favorite for re-election, but Gardner's decision to challenge him turned the contest into one of the most-watched campaigns of 2014. Udall and other Democrats initially blasted Gardner for his prior support of measures that could outlaw some forms of birth control, and Gardner disavowed one of the criticized proposals and said he supports over-the-counter contraception. Gardner billed himself as a "new kind of Republican" who supports renewable energy. Udall, for his part, sought to distance himself from an unpopular Obama, going so far as to remain out of state when the president traveled there for a fundraiser on the senator's behalf.

 

 

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Mark Udall Election Results
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2008 General
Mark Udall (D)
Votes: 1,230,994
Percent: 52.8%
Spent: $11,787,048
Bob Schaffer
Votes: 990,755
Percent: 42.49%
Spent: $7,387,843
Douglas Campbell
Votes: 59,733
Percent: 2.56%
Bob Kinsey
Votes: 50,004
Percent: 2.14%
2008 Primary
Mark Udall (D)
Votes: 194,227
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
House: 2006 (68%), 2004 (67%), 2002 (60%), 2000 (55%), 1998 (50%)
Mark Udall Votes and Bills
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National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 65 (L) : 34 (C) 63 (L) : 36 (C) 60 (L) : 39 (C)
Social 59 (L) : 39 (C) 57 (L) : 36 (C) 52 (L) : - (C)
Foreign 71 (L) : - (C) 68 (L) : 19 (C) 76 (L) : 17 (C)
Composite 70.3 (L) : 29.7 (C) 66.2 (L) : 33.8 (C) 72.0 (L) : 28.0 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC140
LCV10093
CFG913
ITIC-100
NTU1413
20112012
COC64-
ACLU-75
ACU54
ADA9095
AFSCME100-
Key Senate Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Block faith exemptions
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve gas pipeline
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve farm bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Let cyber bill proceed
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Block Gitmo transfers
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass balanced budget amendment
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Stop EPA climate regulations
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Proceed to Cordray vote
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Require talking filibuster
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Limit Fannie/Freddie
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Ratify New START
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Confirm Elena Kagan
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop EPA climate regs
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Block release of TARP funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $787 billion stimulus
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Repeal DC gun laws
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Confirm Sonia Sotomayor
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar budget rules for climate bill
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass 2010 budget resolution
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Let judges adjust mortgages
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow FDA to regulate tobacco
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Protect gays from hate crimes
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Cut F-22 funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Label North Korea terrorist state
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Build Guantanamo replacement
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow federal funds for abortion
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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