Jeff Bingaman

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Jeff Bingaman
Official Photo of Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) 2008.jpg
Chair of the Senate Energy Committee
In office
January 4, 2007 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byPete Domenici
Succeeded byRon Wyden
In office
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Preceded byFrank Murkowski
Succeeded byPete Domenici
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 20, 2001
Preceded byFrank Murkowski
Succeeded byFrank Murkowski
United States Senator
from New Mexico
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byHarrison Schmitt
Succeeded byMartin Heinrich
25th Attorney General of New Mexico
In office
January 1, 1979 – January 1, 1983
GovernorBruce King
Preceded byToney Anaya
Succeeded byPaul Bardacke
Personal details
Jesse Francis Bingaman Jr.

(1943-10-03) October 3, 1943 (age 77)
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Anne Kovacovich
Children1 son
EducationHarvard College (BA)
Stanford University (JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1968–1974
UnitUnited States Army Reserve

Jesse Francis "Jeff" Bingaman Jr. (born October 3, 1943) is an American politician who served as a United States Senator from New Mexico from 1983 to 2013, for 5 terms. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as Chairman of Committee Outreach for the Senate Democratic Caucus. Previously, Bingaman was Attorney General of New Mexico from 1979 to 1983. On February 18, 2011, he announced that he would not seek reelection in 2012.[1][2] He was succeeded by Democratic US Representative Martin Heinrich. During his time in the Senate, Bingaman served as the long time chair of the Senate Energy Committee.

After he left the Senate, he returned to his alma mater, Stanford Law School, as a fellow of their Steyer–Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance.[3]

Early life[edit]

Bingaman was born in El Paso, Texas, the son of Frances Bethia (née Ball) and Jesse Francis Bingaman.[4] He grew up in Silver City, New Mexico. His father taught at Western New Mexico University and his mother taught in the public schools system. At age 15, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout.[5] The Boy Scouts of America later presented Bingaman with their Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.[6]

After graduating from Silver High School in 1961, Bingaman went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Harvard College in 1965. He then entered Stanford Law School, graduating in 1968. He met his wife Anne Kovacovich while attending law classes. They have one son.

After his admission to the bar, Bingaman commenced work as a private practice attorney alongside his wife. He also served as counsel to the New Mexico Constitutional Convention of 1969. From 1968 to 1974, Bingaman was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve. He attended basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey as a private and graduated from the chaplain enlisted assistant technician course at the Army Chaplain School, Fort Hamilton, New Jersey in April 1969.[7][8]

State Attorney General[edit]

Bingaman had worked briefly in the state attorney general's office. He ran for the leadership position of this office in 1978 and was elected. Environmental and antitrust issues were some of his biggest concerns while in this position.

U.S. Senate[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]


Bingaman with President Obama in 2010

In 1982, Bingaman was elected the Senate, defeating one-term Republican incumbent Harrison Schmitt. Bingaman accused Schmitt of not paying enough attention to local matters; his campaign slogan was "What on Earth has he done for you lately?"—a jab at Schmitt's previous service as an astronaut.[9] He was reelected four times.

Bingaman was Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Finance Committee; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; and Joint Committee on the Economy.

Generally, Bingaman kept a fairly low national profile, even though he was the ninth most senior member of the Senate at the time of his retirement. He was very popular in New Mexico, facing substantive opposition only once, in 1994.

Bingaman and his Senate colleague Pete Domenici were the longest-serving duo among senators in the 110th United States Congress (2007–2009). In second place were Ted Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts. Due to serving alongside Domenici, the longest-serving Senator in New Mexico's history, Bingaman spent 26 years as New Mexico's junior Senator, though he had more seniority than all but a few of his colleagues. Their combined seniority gave New Mexico clout in national politics well beyond its modest population. He was the most-senior junior senator in the 110th United States Congress.

On April 28, 2008, Bingaman endorsed Senator Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

On December 13, 2008, Bingaman was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from New Mexico State University at the university's Fall 2008 commencement ceremony.

On February 13, 2011, Bingaman announced he would not seek a sixth term. He formally retired on January 3, 2013, ending the second-longest Senate tenure in the state's history, behind only Domenici.

On December 31, 2018, Democratic Governor-Elect Michelle Lujan Grisham, announced that Bingaman's son John would serve as her chief of staff. He took office on January 1, 2019.

Political positions[edit]


Being from a border state with Mexico, Bingaman has been much involved in the debate over illegal immigration. He believes in increased enforcement of borders to stem the flow of illegal immigrants, including more patrol agents and the use of surveillance cameras. However, he also believes that the U.S. should enact a guest worker program so that immigrants looking for honest work can arrive legally.[10] Bingaman voted against the Secure Fence Act in 2006.[11] He voted against declaring English to be the official language of the US government and voted in favor of continuing federal funds to self-declared "sanctuary cities."[11]

Energy and the environment[edit]

Throughout his political career, Bingaman has burnished a pro-environmental record. He has worked consistently to protect wildlife and public lands. He spoke publicly about the necessity of the Clean Energy Act of 2007, citing the importance of developing clean technology and green jobs. He stated his support for the bill's principle of eliminating tax breaks on gas and oil companies.[12]

Since 2006, Bingaman has been working on a bill that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions via a "cap and trade" system. He has stated that he would like to see his plan implemented so that emissions would be reduced to 1990 levels by 2030. His bill would also increase levels of federal funding for research and development of green technologies.[13]

Social issues[edit]

Bingaman has voted in line with the majority of his party on abortion, and he has received a 100% rating from the pro-choice NARAL. He has voiced his support to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.[14] Although he voted in 1996 for the Defense of Marriage Act, he voted against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and has been ranked favorably by gay rights groups (89% from the HRC). He has also voted twice against a proposed amendment to ban flag desecration and has supported affirmative action.[15]

Iraq War[edit]

On October 11, 2002, Jeff Bingaman was among the 23 Senators who did not vote for authorizing the Iraq War.[16]

Crime and torture[edit]

Bingaman has a generally pro-rehabilitation stance on crime, supporting more programs to prevent youth crime, lower high school dropout rates, and stop drug use. Bingaman has been an outspoken critic of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. He cites the need for due process of law for detainees by saying:

The current practice of holding detainees or prisoners indefinitely, without affording them basic due process rights, has been widely criticized in this country and throughout the world. For a country such as ours that has consistently advocated for the rule of law, the policies of the current administration are nothing short of a major embarrassment ... How we handle prisoners can have a dramatic impact on how our own men and women are treated in the event they are themselves taken prisoner.[3]

Health care reform[edit]

Bingaman supported President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[17] and he voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[18]

Electoral history[edit]


  1. ^ McPike, Erin (2011-02-18). "Jeff Bingaman to Retire". Real Clear Politics. Retrieved 2011-02-18.
  2. ^ Cillizza, Chris (2011-02-18). "Jeff Bingaman to retire". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-02-18.
  3. ^ Romero, Judith (1 April 2013). "Former Senator an Energy Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman to Lead Stanford University Steyer–Taylor Center Initiative on Renewable Portfolio Standards as Distinguished Feellow". Stanford. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  4. ^ 1
  5. ^ "About Jeff Bingaman". Jeff Bingaman, US Senator from New Mexico. Archived from the original on 2006-11-04. Retrieved 2006-11-07.
  6. ^ "Distinguished Eagle Scouts" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-07-20. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  7. ^ "Town and Country", Silver City Daily Press, Silver City, New Mexico, volume LXXIII, number 159, December 23, 1968, page 3.
  8. ^ "Completes Course", El Paso Times, El Paso, Texas, 89th year, number 107, April 17, 1969, page 11-A.
  9. ^ "40th Anniversary of Apollo 11: Moonstruck", Time Magazine, July 27, 2009
  10. ^ "U.S. Senator Bingaman: Border Issues". 2009-02-13. Archived from the original on 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  11. ^ a b [1]
  12. ^ Andrews, Edmund L. (January 19, 2007). "House Votes to Rescind Oil Drillers' Tax Breaks". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "New Mexico Democrat Supports Revival of Fairness Doctrine". 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  15. ^ "Jeff Bingaman on the Issues". Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  16. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2010-08-29.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Toney Anaya
Attorney General of New Mexico
Succeeded by
Paul Bardacke
Party political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Montoya
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from New Mexico
(Class 1)

1982, 1988, 1994, 2000, 2006
Succeeded by
Martin Heinrich
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Harrison Schmitt
U.S. Senator (Class 1) New Mexico
Served alongside: Pete Domenici, Tom Udall
Succeeded by
Martin Heinrich
Preceded by
Frank Murkowski
Chair of the Senate Energy Committee
Succeeded by
Frank Murkowski
Chair of the Senate Energy Committee
Succeeded by
Pete Domenici
Preceded by
Pete Domenici
Chair of the Senate Energy Committee
Succeeded by
Ron Wyden