Maria Cantwell

  • U.S. Senate
  • Washington

A fighter for Washington State working families

Sen. Maria Cantwell is a proven leader running for reelection to continue serving 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.

A champion for expanding opportunity

A determined defender of civil rights, Sen. Cantwell was a major force behind the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; she has been a forceful proponent of marriage equality and she has pushed for legislation to prohibit racial profiling. She has worked to reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil by promoting biodiesel production and green energy solutions that would produce millions of jobs — and she has fought back against GOP denials of climate science. She is a pro-choice champion who has repeatedly and courageously stood up to anti-choice Republicans working to roll back the clock on people’s reproductive rights, and fought to increase access to reproductive health care. Cantwell is deeply committed to fighting for economic fairness for working families and has supported paid family and medical leave and introduced a bill to help families save for retirement. As a first generation college student who worked her way through college with the help of Pell Grants, expanding access to education is personal for her. Referring to her amendment to expand the use of technology in classrooms she said, “I will always be proud that my first piece of successful legislation supported K-12 education.”

A high-stakes reelection fight​

When Sen. Cantwell ran for reelection in 2012, Washington State was the only state in the nation in which the governor and both U.S. senators were Democratic pro-choice women — all elected with support from EMILYs List. Years later, the GOP is very much alive in the state, where narrow victories — like the 2000 race that first brought her to the Senate and briefly went to a recount — are common. We need her voice in the Senate now more than ever, and the EMILYs List community is proud to support her campaign to continue her fight for women and families