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Profile of Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington


Profile of Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington

US Senator Maria Cantwell

Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington:

Maria Cantwell of Washington was first elected as senator in 2000 over four-decade Republican incumbent Slade Gorton, with campaign help from Bill and Hillary Clinton. She was reelected in 2006 and 2012.

Cantwell is best known for her passionate pro-environment stances, and her political leadership in developing alternative energy sources and financial industry reform. Senator Cantwell is a hardworker and policy "wonk" with terrific political skills. Veteran Sen. Patrick Leahy has referred to her as a workhorse.


The White House made Senator Cantwell among their top targets in the 2006 Senatorial elections. Cantwell was the victor, though, in part due to campaign stump appearances by Bill Clinton.

Maria Cantwell also came to national prominence for her spirited support of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill. Both senators singled her out for praise when Congress first passed the legislation.

Major Areas of Interest:

Senator Maria Cantwell battles passionately for environmental protections; Patriot Act privacy concerns, especially for libraries; college affordability; and for alternative sources of energy. She was a bitter opponent of drilling in the Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and of the Bush plan to open 58 million acres of pristine U.S. forests to logging and drilling. She's a leading Senate voice on high-tech issues and small business.

Senate Committees in 112th Congress, 2011-2012:

  • Energy & Natural Resources Committee
  • Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee
  • Indian Affairs Committee
  • Congressional Internet Caucus

Prior Experience:

After college, Cantwell worked on the failed gubernatorial campaign of ex-Cincinnati mayor Jerry Springer in his pre-TV days. In 1984, she ran the Northwest arm of Senator Alan Cranston's presidential bid. Once settled in Seattle, she led a successful drive to build a new public library. In 1986, she was elected to the state legislature, and in 1992, to the US House. Defeated in 1994, she accepted a top position at RealNetworks, where she became an internet expert. She remained for 5 years.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - October 13, 1958 In Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Education - B.A. in public administration in 1980 from Miami University of Ohio
  • Family - Single, shares a modest home in Edmond, Washington with her mother
  • Faith - Roman Catholic
Sen. Cantwell worked to pay her way through college, and is the first member of her family to earn a college degree. She's an avid Seattle Mariners baseball fan and season-ticket holder.

Senator Cantwell and Her Father:

Sen. Cantwell's father, a construction worker, was a lifelong Democratic party activist who served as county commissioner, city councilman and state legislator. As a child, she accompanied him to rallies and meetings, and knocked on doors to turn out election day votes. Paul Cantwell instilled in her a deep love of baseball. He took her to her first game at RFK stadium, home of the defunct Washington Senators. She's reputed to still have an excellent throwing arm. Her father died in 1997.

Interesting Personal Notes:

In a tongue-in-cheek Washingtonian magazine contest in Fall 2004, Senator Cantwell was voted tops in the "Looks Good in a Bathing Suit" Senate category. When first urged in 1986 to run for elected office, she responded, "No way. I always thought I'd get married and have kids and do politics later."

Memorable Quotes:

"My parents instilled in me that if you work hard and you care about something---but particuarly the hard work part---if you work hard you can accomplish things."

"The civil liberties that our nation's founders fought so hard to provide us with should not be the very liberties that are on the table whenever we face a potential domestic threat. In particular, our nation's traditions demand a respect for the privacy of people's personal effects. That's why I am very conerned about provisions in the Patriot Act that compromise the privacy of bookstore proprietors, librarians and their customers."

"Even though it's the United States Senate, it's a ittle bit better (work) pace than an Internet startup or a campaign in high gear."

"....the GI Bill opened the door to higher education, helping millions of service members and veterans who wouldn't otherwise have had the chance to pay for college. But there are many others who did not, or could not, use their earned education benefits within that time frame. We should not stop veterans from going to school because of an arbitrary time limit. The GI Bill for Life, would ensure that educational opportunities are lifelong, allowing service members and veterans the flexibility to seek education and job training opportunities when it is the right time for them to do so."

"There is so much potential for technology to improve the daily lives of people, from delivering better health care to creating higher paying jobs at home."

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