Betsy Markey

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Betsy Markey
Rep Betsy Markey Portrait.JPG
Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Homeland Security
In office
Preceded by Juliette Kayyem
Succeeded by Philip A. McNamara
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 4th district
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Marilyn Musgrave
Succeeded by Cory Gardner
Personal details
Born (1956-04-27) April 27, 1956 (age 61)
Cresskill, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jim Kelly
Residence Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.
Alma mater University of Florida, American University
Profession Small business owner
Website Congresswoman Betsy Markey

Elizabeth Helen “Betsy” Markey (born April 27, 1956) is the former U.S. Representative for Colorado's 4th congressional district, serving from 2009 to 2011 and the former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Homeland Security. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She was defeated on November 2, 2010 by Republican nominee Cory Gardner.

The district includes most of the eastern portion of the state outside the Denver and Colorado Springs metropolitan areas.

Early life and education[edit]

Betsy Markey was born in Cresskill, New Jersey as the sixth of seven children.[1] Markey attended college at the University of Florida from 1974 through 1978. Her last semester was completed abroad at a university in Poznań, Poland. After completing a degree in Political Science, Markey worked for a short period of time on the staff of U.S. Senator John A. Durkin (D-NH). She later went on to work for U.S. Congressman Herbert Harris (D-VA) as a Caseworker/Legislative Assistant on one of the Congressman’s subcommittees. Markey was hired as a Staff Assistant to the Vice President for Development and Planning at American University in 1981. Markey completed a Masters of Public Administration in 1983 from American University.

Public service career[edit]

In 1983 Markey was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow, a competitive two-year management program track in the federal government. Markey went on to hold positions in the United States Treasury Department as budget and program analyst, as human resources specialist, and as staff assistant to the Deputy Commissioner of the Customs Service.

In 1984, during the Reagan Administration, she was recruited by the U.S. Department of State to develop computer security policies for the newly formed Office of Information Systems Security. Markey served as Director of Computer Security Policy and Training and worked with all bureaus to craft computer security policy. She created the Department’s first comprehensive computer security training program for management, security personnel and support staff globally. For her work, Markey received the State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award. Markey left the Department in 1988 at the GS-14 level.

Business career[edit]

After leaving the State Department in 1988, Markey co-founded a software firm, Syscom Services. By 1995, Syscom ranked #99 in the Inc. 500 listing of America’s fastest-growing private companies.

In the mid-1990s, Markey was also the owner of Huckleberry’s, a successful and popular coffee and ice cream shop in Old Town Fort Collins, Colorado. She sold her small business in 2000.

Early political career[edit]

Markey was hired as Regional Director of Colorado’s North Central and Eastern Plains for U.S. Senator Ken Salazar in January 2005. She resigned the position in May 2007. Markey announced her decision to run for United States House of Representatives for Colorado's 4th congressional district in June 2007.

Local activism[edit]

Markey served as President of the Board of Directors of the Food Bank for Larimer County.[2] She chaired the Food Bank’s capital campaign which raised nearly a million dollars to expand the Food Bank facility and the services they provide. As Chair of the Larimer County Democratic Party she oversaw a large expansion in the role the party played in Northern Colorado. Markey also founded the Larimer County Democratic Business Coalition, a network of small business owners in the community. During that time she also participated in the Local Legislative Affairs Committee (LLAC) for the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political campaigns[edit]


Markey meeting with constituents in Eastern Colorado

In June 2007, Markey filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, and formally announced her intention to run in Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District against Marilyn Musgrave. She quickly garnered numerous key supporters including many past and present elected officials.

The 4th District had been in Republican hands since 1973, and had long been reckoned as a safe Republican district. However, Democrats thought Musgrave was vulnerable. The three-term incumbent had never been able to establish a secure footing in the district, in part because her Democratic opponents attacked her for her focus on social issues (such as the Federal Marriage Amendment) and her allegedly poor constituent services. After winning the open 4th District seat fairly easily in 2002, Musgrave barely held on in 2004 and 2006.

Another factor that made Democrats hopeful of defeating Musgrave was the district's demographics. The 4th is a large and mostly rural district. While the rural counties are some of the most Republican counties in Colorado, the district's politics are dominated by two counties--Larimer and Weld—home to Fort Collins and Greeley, respectively. These two counties have only a third of the district's land, but cast 85 percent of its vote. In the past two elections, Musgrave had only been able to stay in office by running up the votes in Weld County.

In the 2008 election, Markey won by an unexpectedly wide margin, taking 56 percent of the vote to Musgrave's 44 percent—the third largest margin of victory for a congressional challenger in the 2008 cycle. While Markey lost most of the rural counties in the district by margins of 2-to-1 or more, she crushed Musgrave in Larimer County, winning it by 36,500 votes. She also won Weld County by seven points.[3][4]


Markey was challenged by Republican nominee, state representative Cory Gardner, American Constitutional Party nominee Doug Aden, and Independent Ken "Wasko" Waszkiewicz.

The race was rated as a toss-up per polling aggregation and was cited as one of the most competitive races in the nation.[5][6][7] Markey was defeated in her reelection bid in 2010.[8]

Post-Congressional career[edit]

After her defeat, Markey became Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Homeland Security. She resigned that position in January 2013.[9][10] In June 2013, she announced that she was running for Colorado State Treasurer in the 2014 elections.[11] She won the Democratic nomination, but lost the general election to incumbent Walker Stapleton.

Personal life[edit]

Betsy Markey married husband Jim Kelly in May 1984. Her first daughter, Katherine, was born in 1986. After giving birth to her second of three children, Erin, in 1987, Markey left the State Department to raise her family. Markey later gave birth to son James Albert in 1991. The family moved to their current home in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1995.

Markey’s past professional affiliations and honors include: Pi Alpha Alpha (the National Honor Society for Public Administrators), National Association of Female Executives, National Association of Women Business Owners, International Network for Women in Enterprise and Trade, Who’s Who in American Women 1988, Who’s Who in Executives 1996/97, and the 2002 Colorado Institute for Leadership Training.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Marilyn Musgrave
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Cory Gardner