A fighter for Washington State working families
Maria Cantwell is the junior senator from the state of Washington and is one of the most committed progressive fighters in Congress. The second of five children, Maria grew up in a working-class family and paid her own way through college, becoming the first in her family to graduate. Maria began her political career working on a successful campaign in her Washington community to raise money for a new library building. At age 28, Maria 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. Maria 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, Maria launched her campaign for the U.S. Senate to challenge GOP Senator Slade Gorton in 2000 and defeated him by 2,229 votes. That year, Maria and Debbie Stabenow became the first women to defeat sitting U.S. senators in a general election.
A champion for expanding opportunity
A determined defender of civil rights, Maria 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. In the Senate, Maria 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 women’s reproductive rights, and fought to increase women’s access to reproductive health care. Maria 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 Maria. 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 forceful advocate victorious in her high-stakes re-election fight
When Maria ran for re-election in 2012, Washington State was the only state in the nation in which the governor and both U.S. senators were pro-choice Democratic women (all elected with support from EMILY’s List). Years later, the GOP is very much alive in the state, where narrow victories — like the 2000 race that first brought Maria to the Senate and briefly went to a recount — are common. There’s simply no question that we need Maria’s voice in the Senate now more than ever, and the EMILY’s List community is proud to have supported her victorious campaign to continue her fight for women and families.