Patty Murray

Patty Murray
Senate Assistant Democratic Leader
Taking office
January 3, 2017
Leader Chuck Schumer (elect)
Succeeding Position established
United States Senator
from Washington
Assumed office
January 3, 1993
Serving with Maria Cantwell
Preceded by Brock Adams
Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Leader Harry Reid
Preceded by Debbie Stabenow
Succeeded by Tammy Baldwin (Designate)
Chair of the Senate Budget Committee
In office
January 3, 2013  January 3, 2015
Preceded by Kent Conrad
Succeeded by Mike Enzi
Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
In office
January 3, 2011  January 3, 2013
Preceded by Daniel Akaka
Succeeded by Bernie Sanders
Member of the Washington Senate
from the 1st district
In office
January 9, 1989  January 11, 1993
Preceded by Bill Kiskaddon
Succeeded by Rosemary McAuliffe
Personal details
Born Patricia Lynn Johns
(1950-10-11) October 11, 1950
Bothell, Washington, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Rob Murray
Children Randy
Alma mater Washington State University, Pullman (BA)
Website Senate website

Patricia Lynn "Patty" Murray (née Johns; October 11, 1950) is the senior United States Senator from the State of Washington and a member of the Democratic Party. Murray was first elected to the Senate in 1992, becoming Washington's first female senator. Murray was re-elected in 1998, 2004, 2010, and 2016.

Murray has served as the Senate Majority Conference Secretary since 2007, making her the fourth-highest-ranking Democrat and the highest-ranking woman in the Senate.[1][2] Murray chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2001 to 2003 and again from 2011 to 2013.[3] Murray chaired the Senate Budget Committee from 2013 to 2015.[4] She also previously served as co-chair of the United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.[5] Beginning in January 2015, Murray will be the Ranking Democratic Member on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.[6] She is currently the 12th most senior member of the United States Senate.

On December 10, 2013, Murray and Republican Representative Paul Ryan announced that they had negotiated a two-year, bipartisan budget, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.[7]

Early life

One of seven children, Murray was born in Bothell, Washington, the daughter of Beverly A. (née McLaughlin) and David L. Johns.[8] Her mother was an accountant. Her father fought in World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart. Her ancestry includes Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and French-Canadian.[8] When she was a teenager, her family was forced to apply for welfare assistance when her father became disabled due to the onset of multiple sclerosis. He had been the manager of a five-and-ten store.[9] 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 preschool teacher for several years and taught a parenting class at Shoreline Community College from 1984–87.[10]

Early career

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 grassroots support to strike down proposed preschool program budget cuts.[11][12]

Her 1988 State Senate campaign was successful and she unseated two-term incumbent Republican Bill Kiskaddon.

United States Senator

Senator Murray at the podium, joined by (left to right), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), launching an interactive website regarding the nomination of Judge John Roberts as the Chief Justice of the United States.

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships


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.[13] 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.[14] 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."[14] 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.

Political positions

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Galen Jackman briefs Senator Patty Murray on the Manned Ground Vehicle program in Washington D.C.

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 constituted support for bin Laden[15][16][17]

Global Trade Exchange

Senator Patty Murray put the controversial intelligence ports-data project Global Trade Exchange into the Homeland security budget.

Fiscal year 2014 federal budget

On December 10, 2013, Murray announced that she and Republican Representative Paul Ryan had reached a compromise agreement on a two-year, bipartisan budget bill, called the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.[18]

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.[19] 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."[20] Van Hollen said that "it is too early to say" whether a majority of House Democrats would vote in favor of the budget bill.[20] The deal was also unpopular with many conservatives.[21]

Health care

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.[22] 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.[23]


In May 2006, Murray, along with 38 of 44 Senate Democrats, voted in favor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611).[24] 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),[25] and creates a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country.[26] 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.[27] She eventually succeeded, with the bill being signed by President Bush on May 8, 2008.[28] Murray has also supported legislation to increase the size of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, also in the Washington Cascades.[29]

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."[30]

2008 presidential election

On January 30, 2008, Murray endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.[31] 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.[32]

Political campaigns


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.[33] 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."[34] 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
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray 318,455 57.91
Democratic Don Bonker 208,321 37.88
Democratic Gene David Hart 15,894 2.89
Democratic Jeffrey Brian Venezia 7,259 1.32
United States Senate election in Washington, 1992[35]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray 1,197,973 53.99
Republican 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."[36] Murray won re-election by 58% to 42%.


Democratic primary election results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray (incumbent) 479,009 94.78
Democratic Amundson Amundseon 10,905 2.16
Democratic James Sherwood Stokes 5,989 1.19
Democratic Harvey Vernier 3,882 0.77
Democratic Robert Tilden Medley 3,350 0.66
Democratic Charlie Jackson 2,234 0.44
General election results[37]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray (incumbent) 1,103,184 58.41
Republican 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
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray (incumbent) 709,477 92.20
Democratic Warren Hanson 46,487 6.04
Democratic Mohammad Said 13,526 1.76
General election results[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray (incumbent) 1,549,708 54.98
Republican George R. Nethercutt, Jr. 1,204,584 42.74
Libertarian J. Mills 34,055 1.21
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%.[39][40] Leading up to the election, Murray was endorsed by several prominent Washington State newspapers.[41][42][43][44] 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.


General election results[45]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray (incumbent) 1,314,930 52.36
Republican Dino Rossi 1,196,164 47.64
Blanket primary election results[46][47]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Green tickY Patty Murray (incumbent) 670,284 46.22
Republican Green tickY Dino Rossi 483,305 33.33
Republican Clint Didier 185,034 12.76
Republican Paul Akers 37,231 2.57
Independent Skip Mercer 12,122 0.84
Democratic Charles Allen 11,525 0.79
Democratic Bob Burr 11,344 0.78
Republican Norma Gruber 9,162 0.63
Republican Michael Latimer 6,545 0.45
Democratic Mike the Mover 6,019 0.42
Democratic Goodspaceguy 4,718 0.33
Reform William Baker 4,593 0.32
Independent Mohammad Said 3,387 0.23
Independent Schalk Leonard 2,818 0.19
Republican William Chovil 2,039 0.14
Total votes 1,450,126 100


Murray ran for a fifth term in 2016. She faced three Democratic challengers in the August 2, 2016 primary election.[48] In the general election, she faced Chris Vance. She defeated Vance 60% to 40% and won a fifth term.

General election results[49]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patty Murray (incumbent) 1,332,232 60.24
Republican Chris Vance 879,174 39.76

Electoral history

Washington State Senate District 1 election, 1988
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Patty Murray 22,948 53%
Republican Bill Kiskaddon (inc.) 20,480 47%
Washington Senator (Class III) results: 1992–2010[50]
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 1,330,917 60% Chris Vance 879,174 40%

Personal life

Murray is married to Rob Murray and has two grown children, Sara and Randy. Murray's hometown is Bothell, Washington, but she now lives on Whidbey Island, Washington.[51]


  1. "Reid announces Democratic leadership for the 110th Congress". November 14, 2006. Retrieved January 10, 2007.
  2. "Senator Harry Reid, Majority Leader". November 18, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  3. "Washington State Sen. Patty Murray To Head DSCC For 2012 Election Cycle – ABC News". November 30, 2010. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  4. Sahil Kapur Thursday November 15, 2012 (November 15, 2012). "Patty Murray To Chair The Senate Budget Committee | TPM LiveWire". Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  5. Walsh, Deirdre (August 10, 2011). "Reid taps Sen. Murray to co-chair debt committee". CNN. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  6. "Senate Democrats lock in key committee memberships." The Hill. (December 12, 2014).
  7. "Murray and Ryan Introduce Bipartisan Budget-Conference Agreement". House of Representatives Committee on the Budget. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  8. 1 2 Patty Murray Genealogy
  10. "MURRAY, Patty -- Biographical Information". U.S. Congress. Retrieved August 24, 2007.
  11. "Senator Patty Murray – About". U.S. Senate.
  12. "Senator Patty Murray co-chairs the deficit commission but can't connect dots". August 11, 2011. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  13. "S. 404 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  14. 1 2 Cox, Ramsey (April 3, 2014). "Senate approves small bill to help Oso recovery". The Hill. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  15. "Nethercutt uses Osama bin Laden in ad assailing Murray". USA Today. September 29, 2004. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  16. Gregg Herrington (December 19, 2002). "U.S. Sen. Patty Murray – Senator asks students to ponder". The Columbian. Archived from the original on December 28, 2002. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  17. "Murray's remarks on bin Laden draw GOP ire". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Associated Press. December 21, 2002. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  18. Eric Wasson; Russell Berman (December 11, 2013). "Ryan deal gets positive review at closed-door GOP conference". The Hill. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  19. Kasperowicz, Pete (December 11, 2013). "Wednesday: Assessing the budget deal". The Hill. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  20. 1 2 Cusack, Bob (December 12, 2013). "Van Hollen: 'Too early to say' if most Democrats will back budget deal". The Hill. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  21. Wasson, Erik (December 11, 2013). "Conservatives: Ryan not tarnished by 'bad' deal". The Hill. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  22. Alter, Charlotte (September 23, 2014). "Lawmakers Push Increased Access to Emergency Contraception". TIME Magazine. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  23. Song, Kyung M. (July 16, 2014). "Senate GOP blocks Patty Murray's contraception coverage bill". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  24. "On Passage of the Bill (S. 2611 As Amended )". United States Senate. May 25, 2006. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  25. "Senate immigration bill raises H-1B limit". InfoWorld. May 25, 2006. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  26. "S.2611". Library of Congress. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  27. Sam Goldfarb (February 7, 2007). "Wild Sky wilderness bill back in Congress". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  28. Daly, Matthew (May 8, 2008). "Bush signs Wild Sky wilderness bill". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
  29. Lynda V. Mapes (March 27, 2009). "More land sought for Alpine Lakes Wilderness". Seattle Times. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  30. Joel Connelly (February 4, 2013). "Sen. Thurmond's mixed race daughter dies at 87". Seattle PI. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  31. "Washington Senator Patty Murray Endorses Clinton" (Press release). Hillary for President. January 30, 2008. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  32. "Murray Gets Behind Obama". The Columbian. June 9, 2008.
  33. David Wilma (September 10, 2004). "Adams, Brock (1927–2004)". Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  34. Cantwell snubs McGavick on debates By Joel Connelly Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  39. Balter, Joni (January 29, 2010). "Dino Rossi and the Scott Brown effect in Washington". The Seattle Times.
  40. Time Archived from the original on April 26, 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  41. The Times endorses the re-election of Sen. Patty Murray. The Seattle Times, October 8, 2010
  42. Re-elect Patty Murray to the U.S. Senate, The News Tribune, October 10, 2010.
  43. Murray has earned a fourth term, editorial board, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 11, 2010
  44. On balance, Murray is better choice for Senate, The News Tribune, October 24, 2010
  46. "August 17, 2010 Primary - Federal". 2010-08-17. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
  47. "The 2010 Results Maps". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
  48. , Washignton Sectary of State Missing or empty |title= (help)
  50. "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved August 8, 2007.
  51. Brunner, Jim (February 9, 2014). "Patty Murray to seek fifth Senate term in 2016". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Brock Adams
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Washington
(Class 3)

1992, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2016
Most recent
Preceded by
Robert Torricelli
Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
Jon Corzine
Preceded by
Debbie Stabenow
Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference
Succeeded by
Tammy Baldwin
Preceded by
Bob Menendez
Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
Michael Bennet
New office Senate Assistant Democratic Leader

Taking office 2017
United States Senate
Preceded by
Brock Adams
United States Senator (Class 3) from Washington
Served alongside: Slade Gorton, Maria Cantwell
Preceded by
Daniel Akaka
Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Bernie Sanders
New office Chair of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee
Position abolished
Preceded by
Kent Conrad
Chair of the Senate Budget Committee
Succeeded by
Mike Enzi
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Barbara Boxer
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Jim Inhofe
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