Patricia Lynn Murray (née Johns; October 11, 1950) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Washington, a seat she was first elected to in 1992. A member of the Democratic Party, Murray is Washington State's first female U.S. Senator.
She served as the Senate Majority Conference Secretary from 2007 until 2017, which made her the fourth-highest-ranking Democrat and the highest-ranking woman in the Senate. In 2017, Murray became the Senate Assistant Minority Leader, making her the third-highest-ranking Democrat and still the highest-ranking woman in the Senate. Murray chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2001 to 2003, and again from 2011 to 2013. Murray chaired the Senate Budget Committee from 2013 to 2015. She also previously served as co-chair of the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Since January 2015, Murray has been the Ranking Democratic Member on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. She is currently the 8th most senior member of the United States Senate, the 3rd most senior Democrat, and the dean of Washington's congressional delegation.
|Senate Assistant Democratic Leader|
January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Ranking Member of the Senate Health Committee|
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Lamar Alexander|
|Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Debbie Stabenow|
|Succeeded by||Tammy Baldwin|
|Chair of the Senate Budget Committee|
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Kent Conrad|
|Succeeded by||Mike Enzi|
|Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee|
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Daniel Akaka|
|Succeeded by||Bernie Sanders|
|United States Senator
January 3, 1993
Serving with Maria Cantwell
|Preceded by||Brock Adams|
|Member of the Washington Senate
from the 1st district
January 9, 1989 – January 11, 1993
|Preceded by||Bill Kiskaddon|
|Succeeded by||Rosemary McAuliffe|
|Born||Patricia Lynn Johns
October 11, 1950
Bothell, Washington, U.S.
|Education||Washington State University (B.A.)|
One of seven children, Murray was born in Bothell, Washington, a daughter of David L. Johns and Beverly A. McLaughlin. Her mother was an accountant. Her father served in World War II, and was awarded a Purple Heart. Her ancestry includes Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and French-Canadian. When she was a teenager, her family was forced to apply for welfare assistance when her father became disabled by the onset of multiple sclerosis. He had previously been the manager of a five-and-ten store. She attended Saint Brendan Catholic School as a young child.
Murray received her Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education from Washington State University in 1972. She was a pre-school teacher for several years, and taught a parenting class at Shoreline Community College from 1984–1987.
As a citizen-lobbyist for environmental and educational issues, she says she was once told by a state representative that she could not make a difference because she was just a "mom in tennis shoes". The phrase stuck, and she later used it in her successful campaigns for Shoreline School District Board of Directors (1985–1989), Washington State Senate (1989–1993), and United States Senate (1993–present). Murray was successful in gathering grass-roots support to strike down proposed pre-school program budget cuts.
On February 28, 2013, Murray introduced the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act into the United States Senate. The bill would prevent the United States Forest Service from removing a building from the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area in the State of Washington unless the agency determines that the structure is unsafe for visitors. Murray argued that the bill should be passed in order to help the tourism industry in the area, but protecting the lookout point in question. The bill would be "a very small step in what will be a very long recovery" and that it would "provide a glimmer of hope for the long-term recovery of this area." Murray was referring to the recovery of the area from the casualties and damage caused by the 2014 Oso mudslide. The bill passed in both the House and the Senate.
In October 2002, Murray was one of 21 Democrats in the Senate to vote against the War Authoritization for invading Iraq. Quoted from her Senate speech:
Mr. President, if we do take action in Iraq, there is no doubt that our armed forces will prevail. We will win a war with Iraq decisively, and, God willing, we will win it quickly. But what happens after the war? That will have as big an impact on our future peace and security. Will we be obligated to rebuild Iraq? If so, how? Our economy is reeling, our budget is in deficit, and we have no estimate of the cost of rebuilding. And with whom? As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman points out, there's a retail store mentality that suggests to some – if "you break it, you buy it."
In December 2002, while speaking to students at Columbia River High School in Vancouver, Murray made a number of remarks about Osama bin Laden, as she attempted to explain why the US had such problems winning hearts and minds in the Muslim world, and how bin Laden had garnered support among some in the Middle East. Among other things, she had stated that bin Laden has "been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building daycare facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. He's made their lives better. We have not done that." This attracted attention from political opponents, who argued that this was inaccurate and constituted support for bin Laden.
On December 10, 2013, Murray announced that she and Republican Representative Paul Ryan had reached a compromise agreement on a two-year, bi-partisan budget bill, called the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.
The deal was scheduled to be voted on first in the House and then the Senate. Some people believed House Democrats would pass the deal as a way to reduce the sequester cuts. However, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told a morning news show on December 12, 2013, that "members of his party are outraged that House Republicans are planning to adjourn without addressing unemployment benefits." Van Hollen said that "it is too early to say" whether a majority of House Democrats would vote in favor of the budget bill. The deal was also unpopular with many conservatives.
In 2014, Murray introduced legislation in the Senate called The Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act. The bill would require hospitals that receive federal funding to provide rape victims with emergency contraception. In July 2014, she introduced an amendment to a bill in the Senate to require health insurance plans to offer contraceptive coverage to patients regardless of employers' beliefs, religious or otherwise. Her amendment required 60 votes to move forward, and all but three Republicans voted against the measure.
In May 2006, Murray, along with 38 of 44 Senate Democrats, voted in favor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611). The bill includes provisions to improve border security, increases fines and other punishments for employers of illegal immigrants, creation of a guest worker program (which includes an almost doubling of the number of H-1B visas), and creates a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. The bill, with support from some in the GOP leadership, passed 62-36.
Murray repeatedly cosponsored legislation to create the Wild Sky Wilderness area in the Washington Cascade Range. She eventually succeeded, with the bill being signed by President Bush on May 8, 2008. Murray has also supported legislation to increase the size of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, also in the Washington Cascades.
On August 2, 2006, the New York Times wrote that, "In 1994, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was said to have engaged in excessive touching of his then-freshman colleague Patty Murray of Washington.The Seattle Post-Intelligencer that Murray asked for, and received, an apology. Through a spokeswoman, Ms. Murray declined to comment."
On January 30, 2008, Murray endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries. One month later, the Washington Democratic caucus awarded two-thirds of its delegates to Barack Obama and one-third to Clinton. After Clinton's June 7 concession, Murray switched her endorsement to Obama.
In 1992, Murray announced her intention to run for the U.S. Senate following the publication of a series of articles by The Seattle Times alleging that incumbent Democratic Senator Brock Adams had sexually assaulted a number of women. Adams denied the allegations, but his popularity statewide was weakened considerably by the scandal and he chose to retire rather than risk losing the seat for his party. Murray defeated Representative Don Bonker to win the Democratic nomination. In the general election she faced Republican Representative Rod Chandler, whom she defeated 54% to 46% despite being outspent by a wide margin. Chandler seemed to have the upper hand in one of the debates until for some unknown reason he quoted the Roger Miller song "Dang Me." He was further damaged by the unpopularity of President George H. W. Bush in the Pacific Northwest.
|United States Senate Democratic primary election in Washington, 1992|
|Democratic||Gene David Hart||15,894||2.89|
|Democratic||Jeffrey Brian Venezia||7,259||1.32|
|Democratic (Wash.)||Patty Murray||1,197,973||53.99|
|Republican (Wash.)||Rod Chandler||1,020,829||46.01|
In 1998, Murray faced Representative Linda Smith, a staunch conservative and maverick who was one of nine House Republicans to vote against confirming House Speaker Newt Gingrich in early 1997, opposed gay rights and viewed homosexuality as a "morally unfit inclination." Murray won re-election by 58% to 42%.
|Democratic primary election results|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||479,009||94.78|
|Democratic||James Sherwood Stokes||5,989||1.19|
|Democratic||Robert Tilden Medley||3,350||0.66|
|Democratic (Wash.)||Patty Murray (incumbent)||1,103,184||58.41|
|Republican (Wash.)||Linda Smith||785,377||41.59|
In 2004, Murray faced another Republican Representative, George Nethercutt. Term limits became an issue in the campaign, as Democrats seized on Nethercutt's broken term-limits pledge that he had made when he unseated Speaker Tom Foley in 1994. Nethercutt was also hampered by his lack of name recognition in the more densely populated western part of the state, home to two-thirds of the state's population. Washington has not elected a Senator from east of the Cascades since Miles Poindexter in 1916. Other important issues included national security and the war in Iraq. Nethercutt supported the invasion of Iraq, while Murray opposed it. Nethercutt was a heavy underdog from the start and his campaign never gained much traction. In the general election, Murray was re-elected by 55% to 43%.
|Democratic primary election results|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||709,477||92.20|
|Democratic (Wash.)||Patty Murray (incumbent)||1,549,708||54.98|
|Republican (Wash.)||George R. Nethercutt, Jr.||1,204,584||42.74|
|Green||Mark B. Wilson||30,304||1.08|
The 2010 election was the first Senate election to be held under the new blanket primary since Initiative 872 had passed in 2004. In the August 17 primary, Murray appeared on the ballot alongside four other Democratic candidates, six Republican candidates, a Reform Party candidate and three Independent candidates. Murray received a plurality, 46%, and advanced to the general election along with her main Republican challenger, former State Senator and two-time gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi, who received 33%. Leading up to the election, Murray was endorsed by several prominent Washington State newspapers. Rossi conceded the election to Murray on November 4, 2010, two days after election day. The final tally showed Murray with 52.36% to Rossi's 47.64%, enabling Murray to go on to serve a fourth term in the United States Senate.
|Democratic (Wash.)||Patty Murray (incumbent)||1,314,930||52.36|
|Republican (Wash.)||Dino Rossi||1,196,164||47.64|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||670,284||46.22|
|Democratic||Mike the Mover||6,019||0.42|
Murray ran for a fifth term in 2016. She faced three Democratic challengers in the August 2, 2016, primary election. In the general election, she faced Chris Vance. She defeated Vance 59% to 41%, and won a fifth term.
|Democratic (Wash.)||Patty Murray (incumbent)||1,913,979||59.01|
|Republican (Wash.)||Chris Vance||1,329,338||40.99|
|Washington State Senate District 1 election, 1988|
|Republican||Bill Kiskaddon (inc.)||20,480||47%|
|Year||Democratic||Votes||Pct||Republican||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct|
|1992||Patty Murray||1,197,973||54%||Rod Chandler||1,020,829||46%|
|1998||Patty Murray||1,103,184||58%||Linda Smith||785,377||42%|
|2004||Patty Murray||1,549,708||55%||George R. Nethercutt, Jr.||1,204,584||43%||J. Mills||Libertarian||34,055||1%||Mark B. Wilson||Green||30,304||1%|
|2010||Patty Murray||1,314,930||52%||Dino Rossi||1,196,164||48%|
|2016||Patty Murray||1,913,979||59%||Chris Vance||1,329,338||41%|
|Party political offices|
|Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Washington
1992, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2016
|Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
|Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference
|Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
|New office||Senate Assistant Democratic Leader
|United States Senator (Class 3) from Washington
Served alongside: Slade Gorton, Maria Cantwell
|Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
|New office||Chair of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee
|Chair of the Senate Budget Committee
|Ranking Member of the Senate Health Committee
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority