Sen. Maria Cantwell is a proven leader who serves the state of Washington and is one of the most committed progressive fighters in Congress. The second of five children, Cantwell grew up in a working-class family and paid her own way through college, becoming the first in her family to graduate. Cantwell began her political career working on a successful campaign in her Washington community to raise money for a new library building. At age 28, she successfully ran for a seat in the Washington State House of Representatives, and in 1992 she ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and became the first Democrat in 40 years to represent Washington State’s 1st District in Congress. She lost her seat in a GOP wave in 1994 and returned home to Seattle, where she became a successful technology entrepreneur, helping to build a company that created hundreds of jobs. In 2000, Cantwell launched her campaign for the U.S. Senate to challenge GOP Sen. Slade Gorton in 2000 and defeated him by 2,229 votes. That year, Cantwell and Sen. Debbie Stabenow became the first women to defeat sitting U.S. senators in a general election. She was reelected in 2006, 2012, and again in 2018, and works tirelessly to create affordable opportunities for consumers, businesses and families, to make our nation more secure today, to foster innovation for tomorrow, and to stand with parents as they educate and care for their children.