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Sen. Patty Murray (D)

Washington

Leadership: Senate Democratic Conference Secretary

N/A

murray.senate.gov

Biography

Elected: 1992, term expires 2016, 4th term.

Born: October 11, 1950, Bothell, WA

Home: Seattle, WA

Education: WA St. U., B.A. 1972

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married (Robert Randall Murray) , 2 children

Patty Murray is the senior senator from Washington, first elected in 1992. She has come a long way from her entry into politics as a parent-activist. Murray is now a powerful backroom player, with a seat at her party's leadership table and a key role in advancing the Democrats’ positions -- a lofty status she ascribes partly to her training as an educator of young children. "You don't walk into a class with 4-year-olds without a direction of where you're going to go," she told The Huffington Post in 2013.

Murray grew up in the Seattle suburb of Bothell, one of seven children of a disabled World War II veteran. She graduated from Washington State University in 1972, married, and stayed home to raise her children. In 1980, she was in Olympia trying to save a parent education class she was teaching at Shoreline Community College, which was the target of budget cuts. A state legislator told her gruffly, “You’re just a mom in tennis shoes. You can’t make a difference.” As she said later, “Almost every woman I’ve ever met in politics got into it because she was mad about something.” She won her fight over the parents’ class and then ran for the Shoreline School District board. She eventually was chosen board president. In 1988, she challenged a Republican state senator, knocked on 17,000 doors and won the seat. Then in late 1991, Murray decided to run against U.S. Sen. Brock Adams, a Democrat who was under a cloud following charges of sexual harassment. He ultimately decided not to seek reelection.

Amid a crowd of better-known, conventional male politicians, Murray, with her flat, Midwestern-style accent and “mom in tennis shoes” line, attracted most of the attention. In the 1992 all-party primary, her main Democratic opponent was former U.S. Rep. Don Bonker, who had narrowly lost a Senate nomination in 1988. But Murray won 28% of the vote to Bonker’s 19%. She then sprinted to a big lead in polls against Republican U.S. Rep. Rod Chandler, winning 54%-46% in November.

In the Senate, Murray has had a largely liberal voting record. But she is known for being attuned to the needs of more conservative members. “She’s a pretty good arbiter and proxy for the caucus as a whole,” Rich Tarplin, a lobbyist close to Senate Democrats, told National Journal. Murray generally leaves the spotlight to others, but does not shy from openly taking on administration officials. In what she calls her “angry mom” voice, she has rebuked Republican and Democratic secretaries of the Department of Veterans Affairs for proposals that would make veterans pay more for health care. “Ask my kids about it,” she said of such confrontations to The Olympian newspaper in October 2010. “There is a line they knew they shouldn’t cross.”

Murray assumed the chairmanship of the Budget Committee in January 2013, replacing North Dakota’s retired Kent Conrad. To counter the controversial budget proposal offered by her House counterpart, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, she unveiled a proposed fiscal 2014 budget that was the first from her party since 2009. It included about $1 trillion in new revenues while advocating the closing of tax loopholes and incentives to match about $1 trillion in spending cuts. Unlike Ryan’s budget, which some House GOP moderates found draconian, her plan was geared toward getting broad Democratic support. It included $100 billion for a new “economic recovery protection plan” that would fund infrastructure projects and education programs. But in something of a surprise, it contained more than double the cuts to the biggest health entitlement, Medicare, than Ryan’s. Though Republicans vilified her proposal as unworkable, they said Murray was easy to work with. “You’ve allowed us to have free ability to speak out; you’ve been respectful,” Budget ranking Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama told her at a hearing.

She also was able to forge a working relationship with Ryan, and their partnership enabled them in December 2013 to strike a two-year budget deal that called for raising new revenue through fee increases without tax increases or controversial reforms to Social Security or Medicare. It also replaced steep budget cuts under the looming "sequester" in January with targeted spending cuts. Democrats groused about the deal, which didn't add much money for party priorities such as infrastructure spending and failed to close any of the tax loopholes they sought to close. But it easily passed both chambers and was signed into law.

The Budget chairmanship represented Murray’s second turn as a leader on the issue. After the protrated standoff over raising the federal debt limit in 2011, she and Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling were named as co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the “super committee” charged with finding a bipartisan consensus on future spending in just a few months. To almost no one’s surprise, the effort was fruitless, but she said it was important for her to stick to her guns. “The one thing the Republicans wouldn’t put on the table was revenue,” Murray told The Seattle Times about her experience. “I knew what a bad deal would mean for the middle class in this country. Many of us are where we are in our lives because we had a country that was there for us.”

On the Appropriations Committee, Murray also is influential and makes a point of getting along with more senior senators. After Alaska’s Ted Stevens, the former GOP chairman, lost his bid for reelection in 2008, he gave Murray the desk that once belonged to legendary Washington Democrat Warren Magnuson (1944-81). And when West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd was too ill in 2007 and 2008 to manage spending bills on the floor as chairman, he gave Murray the task ahead of more-senior members. Murray chaired the Appropriations subcommittee on transportation and housing and urban development. She has delivered for the state, and then some: $219 million in home-state projects in 2010, which was the ninth highest amount among senators that year. The Washington watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense dubbed her the “Queen of Pork.” Despite a subsequent ban on earmarking, Murray still worked to include funding for a variety of Washington projects in the fiscal 2013 bill, including money for a Seattle light-rail system and a bridge over the Columbia River.

Murray moved over to take the top Democratic seat in 2015 on the panel dealing with the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. With the retirement of Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, she also claimed the ranking-member post on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in 2015. She was expected to play a leading role in fighting Republican attempts to rewrite the No Child Left Behind education law to make it hostile to teachers' unions, an extremely powerful constituency for her party. She said she sought a bipartisan measure that would permit states to reduce tests while expanding access to early-childhood education. "I've heard from parent after parent and teacher after teacher in Washington state who has told me that not only are students taking too many tests, oftentimes the tests are of low quality or redundant," Murray said.

In the 2012 election, Murray chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Senate Democrats’ campaign recruiting and fundraising arm. Several of her colleagues had reportedly turned down the post, prompting Majority Leader Harry Reid and others to persuade her that she could succeed in the job. The assignment was daunting: Twenty-three Democratic senators faced reelection in 2012. But even her political opponents predicted that she would not be outworked. “She’s a mechanic, not a visionary. But she’s really good at it,” said Chris Vance, a former chairman of Washington’s Republican Party. Not only were Murray and fellow Democrats able to hold the Senate, they picked up two seats. They got some fortunate breaks, most notably the disastrous comments on rape and abortion by Republicans Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana that spelled their political doom in those races. But Murray also recruited a number of successful female candidates, such as Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp. “Oftentimes, when you're looking at people to run, they rule the women out, saying they can’t win,” Murray told The Oregonian of Portland. “I ruled them in.”

It was Murray’s second stint in the role. She led the DSCC in the 2002 election cycle and had less fortune then. She nearly doubled the committee’s fundraising, bringing in $158 million during the cycle, and her recruiting efforts were mostly successful. But the results were disappointing for her. Democrats lost more seats than they won, and they lost their Senate majority. Still, Murray’s efforts got high marks. In 2004, Reid appointed Murray assistant floor leader, and after Democrats won back the majority in 2006, her colleagues elected her Democratic Conference Secretary, the fourth-ranking position in the leadership.

To take the Budget chairmanship, Murray gave up the helm of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. She has long been one of the most persistent advocates for veterans’ funding, and during the 2011 debt-limit negotiations she aggressively rejected a Republican proposal to expose veterans’ benefits to steep domestic and military spending cuts. She has sponsored bills for more benefits for National Guard and Reserve troops called up to active duty, and she successfully fought for more health care funding for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Republicans initially rejected her attempt to add $2 billion for veterans’ health care, but relented and added $1.5 billion after it was revealed that the VA was using dated cost estimates and expected a shortfall.

In her first years, Murray was criticized as too staff reliant, but she grew into the role of senator. She immersed herself in Washington state issues, becoming one of the Senate’s staunchest proponents of normal trade relations with China, a position strongly backed by Boeing. Murray also has worked to remove restrictions on abortion rights and has prevailed in the Senate on legislation allowing abortions in military hospitals. With then-Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, she waged a fight with the Bush administration regarding the approval of over-the-counter sales of the Plan B contraceptive.

Murray has won reelection three times by steadily diminishing margins. In 1998, she was challenged by U.S. Rep. Linda Smith, a Republican and a strong opponent of abortion and free trade deals. Murray raised far more money than Smith and won 58%-42%. In 2004, she faced Republican George Nethercutt, another House member, who in 1994 earned a reputation as a giant killer by defeating Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley. But the former mom in tennis shoes had become a hardball fundraiser: An aide put out the word to lobbyists that the senator would regard contributions to Nethercutt as hostile, even if contributors gave to her too. Murray raised $11.5 million, much more than Nethercutt’s $7.7 million. He campaigned vigorously, and big-name Republicans came in for him. On Election Day, Murray won 55%-43%. It was almost as if the election had been held in two states: Nethercutt carried every county east of the Cascades, and Murray carried all but two counties to the west.

Republicans initially considered Murray vulnerable in 2010. They landed a top-tier recruit in former state Sen. Dino Rossi, a fiscal conservative who had twice run impressive but losing campaigns against Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire. He criticized her involvement in shaping the Democratic agenda. But Murray did not back down from her record and said Rossi would bankrupt the nation by giving tax breaks to the wealthy. She got a substantial boost from Boeing, whose machinists’ union called her reelection its top priority, and from campaign stops by Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama. She won 52%-48%. Exit polls showed Murray beating Rossi among women, 56%-44%. And even though national Republicans won the senior citizens’ vote by 19 percentage points, Murray carried it by 10 points.

Murray announced in February 2014 that she would seek a fifth term, and she was a clear favorite for reelection absent a top-tier competitor and a GOP wave in 2016.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 154
Washington, DC 20510-4704

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 154
Washington, DC 20510-4704

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

Henry M. Jackson Federal Building Suite 2988
Seattle, WA 98174-1003

DISTRICT OFFICE

(206) 553-5545

(206) 553-0891

Henry M. Jackson Federal Building Suite 2988
Seattle, WA 98174-1003

DISTRICT OFFICE

(509) 624-9515

(509) 624-9561

10 North Post Street Suite 600
Spokane, WA 99201-0707

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

10 North Post Street Suite 600
Spokane, WA 99201-0707

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

950 Pacific Avenue Suite 650
Tacoma, WA 98402-4450

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

950 Pacific Avenue Suite 650
Tacoma, WA 98402-4450

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

The Marshall House
Vancouver, WA 98661-3856

DISTRICT OFFICE

(360) 696-7797

(360) 696-7798

The Marshall House
Vancouver, WA 98661-3856

DISTRICT OFFICE

(509) 453-7462

(509) 453-7731

402 East Yakima Avenue Suite 420
Yakima, WA 98901-2760

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

402 East Yakima Avenue Suite 420
Yakima, WA 98901-2760

DISTRICT OFFICE

(425) 259-6515

(425) 259-7152

2930 Wetmore Avenue Suite 9D
Everett, WA 98201-4067

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

2930 Wetmore Avenue Suite 9D
Everett, WA 98201-4067

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 3662
Seattle, WA 98124-3662

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 224-2621

(202) 224-0238

PO Box 3662
Seattle, WA 98124-3662

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Aerospace

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Adam Goodwin
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Kevin Stockert
Legislative Aide

Appropriations

Adam Goodwin
Legislative Assistant

Arts

Ryan Mace
Legislative Aide

Banking

Zach Mallove
Legislative Assistant

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Budget

Benjamin Merkel
Legislative Assistant

Campaign

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Zach Mallove
Legislative Assistant

Crime

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Economics

Zach Mallove
Legislative Assistant

Education

Ed O'Neill
Deputy State Director for Constituent Services

Energy

Josephine Eckert
Legislative Assistant

Kevin Stockert
Legislative Aide

Environment

Josephine Eckert
Legislative Assistant

Anna Sperling
Legislative Assistant

Kevin Stockert
Legislative Aide

Shawn Bills
Legislative Director; State Director

Finance

Zach Mallove
Legislative Assistant

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Foreign

Ryan Pettit
Legislative Assistant

Ryan Mace
Legislative Aide

Govt Ops

Zach Mallove
Legislative Assistant

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Ed O'Neill
Deputy State Director for Constituent Services

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Grants

Ed O'Neill
Deputy State Director for Constituent Services

Richard Lazaro
Seattle Metropolitan Director

Gun Issues

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Rachel Peterson
Legislative Aide

Adam Goodwin
Legislative Assistant

Benjamin Merkel
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Kevin Stockert
Legislative Aide

Shawn Bills
Legislative Director; State Director

Human Rights

Ryan Mace
Legislative Aide

Immigration

Ryan Mace
Legislative Aide

Intelligence

Rachel Peterson
Legislative Aide

Benjamin Merkel
Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Land Use

Anna Sperling
Legislative Assistant

Shawn Bills
Legislative Director; State Director

Military

Ryan Pettit
Legislative Assistant

Rachel Peterson
Legislative Aide

Adam Goodwin
Legislative Assistant

Native Americans

Anna Sperling
Legislative Assistant

Kevin Stockert
Legislative Aide

Shawn Bills
Legislative Director; State Director

Public Works

Josephine Eckert
Legislative Assistant

Kevin Stockert
Legislative Aide

Rules

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Ryan Mace
Legislative Aide

Science

Adam Goodwin
Legislative Assistant

Small Business

Zach Mallove
Legislative Assistant

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Tax

Zach Mallove
Legislative Assistant

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Technology

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Benjamin Merkel
Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Zach Mallove
Legislative Assistant

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Trade

Anna Sperling
Legislative Assistant

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Transportation

Zach Mallove
Legislative Assistant

Ed O'Neill
Deputy State Director for Constituent Services

Shavenor Winters
Legislative Aide

Veterans

Ryan Pettit
Legislative Assistant

Rachel Peterson
Legislative Aide

Adam Goodwin
Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

Kevin Stockert
Legislative Aide

Women

Jason Smith
Legislative Assistant

** denotes a leadership staffer

Election Results

2010 GENERAL
Patty Murray
Votes: 1,314,930
Percent: 52.36%
Dino Rossi
Votes: 1,196,164
Percent: 47.64%
2010 PRIMARY
Patty Murray
Votes: 670,284
Percent: 46.0%
Dino Rossi
Votes: 483,305
Percent: 33.0%
Clint Didier
Votes: 185,304
Percent: 13.0%
2004 GENERAL
Patty Murray
Votes: 1,549,708
Percent: 55.0%
George Nethercutt
Votes: 1,204,584
Percent: 43.0%
2004 PRIMARY
Patty Murray
Votes: 709,497
Percent: 92.0%
Warren Hanson
Votes: 46,490
Percent: 6.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2004 (55%), 1998 (58%), 1992 (54%)

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