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Profile of Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota


Profile of Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota:

Kent Conrad of North Dakota was first elected to the Senate in 1986. Sen. Conrad announced on January 18, 2011 that he is not running for reelection in 2012.

Sen. Conrad is a Democratic fiscal moderate, and was Senate Budget Committee Chair in the 110th and 111th Congresses.

Sen. Conrad led Congress in passing controversial Farm Bill legislation in 2002. Conrad voted against approving use of military force in Iraq in both 1991 and 2002. (Also see The Obama Budget: Why Sen. Kent Conrad Is So Angry.)

Recent Notability:

On February 6, 2006, Conrad, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, said that the Bush budget proposal for 2007 "represents the same reckless fiscal course the Bush Administration has followed for the last five years."

Major Areas of Interest:

Senator Conrad has focused his 20-year Senate career on fiscal and agricultural matters. He's a renowned advocate of fiscal discipline and a fierce defender of the integrity of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. He reviews every legislative bill involving fiscal matters prior to Senate votes. Hailing from an agricultural state, Conrad is also intensely involved in farm legislation and matters.

Senate Committees in 112th Congress, 2011-2012:

  • Budget Committee, Chair
  • Finance Committee
  • Finance Subcommittee on Taxation & IRS Oversight, Chair
  • Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, Family Policy
  • Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee
  • Agriculture Subcommittee on Energy, Science & Technology, Chair
  • Agriculture Subcommittee on Production, Income Protection & Price Support
  • Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation
  • Indian Affairs Committee
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry

Agriculture Subcommittee on Production & Price Competitiveness, Chairman

Agriculture Subcommittee on Marketing, Inspection & Product Promotion

Prior Experience:

  • 1974-80 - Assistant to the Bismarck Tax Commissioner
  • 1980 - North Dakota Tax Dept, Diretor of Management Planning
  • 1981-86 - Tax Commissioner, State of North Dakota
  • 1986 - present Elected to the United States Senate

The Only Person to Hold Two Senate Seats on the Same Day:

During his 1986 campaign, Conrad promised that if the federal deficit hadn't fallen by 1992, he wouldn't rerun for his Senate seat. When the deficit was not reduced, Conrad stuck to his word, despite urgings of North Dakotans.

In September 1992, the state's senior senator unexpectedly died. As this wasn't rerunning for his seat, Conrad ran and won to fill the remaining two years of that term. In December, Conrad was sworn-in to fill this seat and the next day, resigned the first seat.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - March 12, 1948 in Bismarck, North Dakota
  • Education - attended Wheelus High School in Libya; 1966 graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy. BA in 1971, Stanford University. MBA in 1975, George Washington University.
  • Family - Married to Lucy Calautti since 1987. One daughter, Jessamyn, from first marriage to Pam Schafer, sister of a former North Dakota Republican governor. A stepson, Ivan Miluski, who is active in the Sierra Club.
  • Faith - Christian, Universal Unitarian
  • Abiding hobby - Baseball

The Senator's Wife, Major League Baseball Lobbyist Lucy Calautti:

The Queens-born daughter of an Italian chandelier-maker and his Orthodox Jewish wife, Lucy Calautti is a Navy veteran and self-described baseball maniac. After earning degrees from NDSU, she was hired in 1974 by state tax commissioner Byron Dorgan. When Dorgan was elected to Congress, she was made an aide, then his Chief of Staff until her 2000 retirement. In 2004, Calautti became a lobbyist for major league baseball, maintaining at office at prestigious DC law firm, Baker & Hostetler.

Interesting Personal Notes:

In childhood, Senator Conrad was orphaned and raised by his grandparents. He attended several years of high school in Tripoli, Libya. The senator's daughter, Jessamyn Abigail Conrad, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 2000 with a BA in Islamic Architecture, and earned a Master's degree in 2001 from Cambridge University in Great Britain.

Memorable Quotes:

"The abuse we've discovered is appalling....We shut down Saddam Hussein's torture chambers and then turned around and opened some of our own. We will feel the repercussions of these actions for years to come."

About President Bush's 2007 federal budget proposal, made public on February 6, 2006, "We have seen this playbook before. Every year, the Bush administration talks about fiscal responsibility, but in the end, its policies dig us deeper into deficit and debt. It is results that matter, not talk. The results so far have been serious for our country and the ones who lose most are future generations. It is time to cut up the charge card and start paying our bills."

About representing North Dakota in the US Senate, "I understand very, very well why I'm here. I negotiated the farm bill, and that's a North Dakota priority. This week, I've seen people from North Dakota on pulse crops, sugar interests, rural schools, bankers, the Devils Lake situation. I'm very focused on North Dakota. I always have been and I always will be."

"The biggest challenge will be ensuring that all seniors are treated fairly. As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implements the new policy, it must do so in a way that provides as many Medicare beneficiaries as possible access to additional health benefits. Unfortunately, the final version of the bill included limitations on the number of eligible beneficiaries and on spending for new benefits. I vigorously opposed these caps, but now that they are in place, we must ensure that seniors are treated fairly as CMS works to determine how to implement this provision."

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