An outstanding lifelong public servant
Senator Debbie Stabenow has dedicated her career to fighting for women and working families to have a fair shot in her home state of Michigan and across the country. Debbie got her start in public service at age 24, fighting plans to close a local nursing home that primarily served low-income seniors. “We succeeded, and I decided to run for the Ingham County Commission against the man who led the opposition,” she recalls, noting that her opponent referred to her as “that young broad” during the campaign. She won that race, then was elected commission chair — the first woman and youngest chair ever. Debbie went on to serve 12 years in the state House and four in the state Senate, all while raising two children. In 1996, she unseated a wealthy Republican congressman and served two terms in the U.S. House before ousting ultra-conservative Republican Senator Spencer Abraham to become Michigan’s first woman senator, in spite of being outspent two to one. That year, Debbie and her EMILY’s List colleague, Senator Maria Cantwell, became the first women in U.S. history to defeat sitting senators in the general election. A lifelong Michigander, Debbie is a powerful advocate for Michigan’s economy while also ensuring the protection of its natural resources, from supporting innovation and growth in the state’s manufacturing economy to protecting its Great Lakes. As the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, she is a fierce advocate for sustainable policies that protect family farms. Debbie led the fight to save the state’s auto industry, and along with it, thousands of jobs; and as a member of the Senate Energy Committee she has championed legislation to protect public lands and combat climate change. In 2016, Debbie took charge of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, the caucus’ messaging and policy arm. In this key leadership role, she now leads strategy meetings and retreats to ensure that the Democrats are effectively communicating their values-driven message with working families across the country.
A proven fighter and innovative champion for Michiganders
Debbie has been at the forefront of the fight to reform the nation’s health care system — making sure that women’s health needs are met and protecting reproductive rights from repeated assaults. She delivered one of the most memorable lines of the health care reform debate after her GOP colleague, then-Senator Jon Kyl, wondered why maternity coverage should be included in standard policies, since he (and other men) would never need it. “I think your mom probably did,” Debbie shot back. As Republicans work to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and to roll back our reproductive rights, she is an outspoken advocate for the progressive policies that women know are common sense. In the Senate, Debbie served on the finance committee, the budget committee, the energy committee, and as the ranking member on the agriculture committee — and is in a powerful position to hold several of Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointees accountable. In a confirmation hearing for Tom Price, Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Debbie confronted him for his outrageous suggestion that women should have to pay more for coverage if they want it to include maternity care. As Republicans targeted her seat, Debbie continued to fearlessly fight back against their dangerous agenda.
A victorious fight for re-election in a swing state
One of the most influential and energetic leaders in the Senate, Debbie was a top target for deep-pocketed Republicans, who hold substantial sway in this perennial swing state. But Debbie, a veteran of local, state, and national politics, has made a career out of overcoming big spenders and vicious attacks. In 2016, Donald Trump won Michigan in a shocking upset. Emboldened and well-funded, Republicans believed that 2018 was their best shot at gaining a Senate seat in the Great Lakes State. With so much at stake, she said she proudly stands “shoulder to shoulder with my EMILY’s List colleagues in the Senate — some familiar faces and some new ones — because women across the country need us to move forward.” Debbie Stabenow is a tireless champion for women and families, and in 2018 the EMILY’s List community showed her that we will always have her back. “I was elected to the Senate thanks to the support of EMILY’s List, and EMILY’s List has helped keep me in the Senate, fighting for middle-class families in Michigan and across the country,” Debbie has said. We are proud to stand with this champion for women and working families in Michigan and across the country.