Katherine Clark

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Katherine Clark
Katherine Clark, official portrait, 116th Congress.jpg
Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
LeaderNancy Pelosi
Preceded byLinda Sánchez
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 5th district
Assumed office
December 12, 2013
Preceded byEd Markey
Member of the Massachusetts Senate
from the 5th Middlesex district
In office
January 5, 2011 – December 10, 2013
Preceded byRichard Tisei
Succeeded byJason Lewis
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 32nd Middlesex district
In office
March 13, 2008 – January 5, 2011
Preceded byMike Festa
Succeeded byPaul Brodeur
Personal details
Katherine Marlea Clark

(1963-07-17) July 17, 1963 (age 57)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Rodney Dowell
(m. 1992)
ResidenceMelrose, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationSt. Lawrence University (BA)
Cornell University (JD)
Harvard University (MPA)
WebsiteHouse website

Katherine Marlea Clark (born July 17, 1963) is an American politician who has served as the United States representative for Massachusetts's 5th congressional district since 2013. The district includes many of the northern and western suburbs of Boston, such as Medford, Framingham, Woburn, and Clark's hometown of Melrose. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 2008 to 2011 and a member of the Massachusetts Senate from 2011 to 2013.

Born in Connecticut, Clark worked as an attorney in several states before moving to Massachusetts in 1995, where she worked in state government. She joined the Melrose School Committee in 2002, becoming committee chair in 2005. She was first elected to the state legislature in 2008 and contributed to legislation regarding criminal justice, education, and municipal pensions. She won the 2013 special election for the U.S. House of Representatives to succeed Ed Markey in the 5th district and sits on the House Appropriations Committee. She serves as Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus,[1][2] the sixth-ranking post in the Democratic House leadership behind the Speaker.

Early life and career[edit]

Katherine Marlea Clark[3] was born July 17, 1963, in New Haven, Connecticut.[4] She attended St. Lawrence University, Cornell Law School, and Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.[5] She studied in Nagoya, Japan, in 1983.[3]

In her early career, she worked as an attorney in Chicago. She then moved to Colorado where she worked as a clerk for a federal judge Alfred Albert Arraj of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and later as a staff attorney for the Colorado District Attorneys' Council.[6] She moved to Massachusetts in 1995 and became general counsel for the state Office of Child Care Services.[7]

Local politics[edit]

In 2001, Clark moved to Melrose, where she was elected to the Melrose School Committee, taking her seat in January 2002.[6] Clark first ran for the Massachusetts Senate in 2004 but lost to Republican incumbent Richard Tisei.[8][9] In January 2005, she was unanimously elected chairwoman of the Melrose School Committee.[10] In 2006, she decided to run for the 32nd Middlesex seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives when incumbent Mike Festa began a run for Middlesex district attorney but withdrew after he dropped out of the race.[11]

Clark was appointed co-chair of Victory 2006, the state Democratic Party's campaign and fundraising effort for the 2006 gubernatorial election.[12] She spent some time as Chief of Policy and Government Relations in the Massachusetts Attorney General's office.[13]

Massachusetts legislature[edit]

At an event with then U.S. Representative Ed Markey in 2008.
At an event with then U.S. Representative Ed Markey in 2008.

Massachusetts House of Representatives[edit]

Festa resigned his state House seat in October 2007 to become Secretary of Elder Affairs in the Deval Patrick administration, and Clark entered the special election to succeed him. During the campaign, she emphasized her experience as an attorney and made "developing stability in state aid" her top policy issue. She won the Democratic primary in January with 65% of the vote, defeating two other Melrose Democrats.[13][14] She defeated Republican real estate businessman Mark B. Hutchison 63 to 37 percent.[15][16] In November 2008, she won re-election to a full term unopposed.[17]

Sworn on March 13, 2008,[18] she represented Melrose and Wakefield. Clark served on the Education, Judiciary, and Municipalities and Regional Government committees.[19]

Massachusetts Senate[edit]

When Tisei resigned his state Senate seat to run for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, she ran for his seat. In the Democratic primary, she defeated Stoneham attorney Michael S. Day 64%-36%.[20][21] She defeated Republican Craig Spadafora in the November 2010 general election 52%-48%.[22]

Clark was sworn on January 5, 2011.[23] She is a pro-choice legislator and has been endorsed in her campaigns by both NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund.[24][25][26]

In 2011, she was co-chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service, where she was lead author of the Senate version of a bill to reform municipal pensions.[27][28] For her work in 2011, she received legislator of the year awards from the Massachusetts Municipal Association and the Massachusetts Police Association.[29][30] In 2012, she authored a law that takes steps to ensure that all Massachusetts students are reading at grade level by third grade.[31] Also in 2012, her bill extending restraining orders in domestic violence cases to also cover victims' pets, which are often used as pawns in abusive relationships, was signed as part of a larger law on animal shelters.[32][33] In 2013, she co-sponsored a bill expanding the state's wiretapping authority, which was strictly limited under existing law, in order to help police better investigate violent street crime.[34] At the same time, she co-sponsored a bill to secure electronic privacy protections, requiring police to have probable cause before investigating the electronic records of individuals.[35] She filed another bill tightening sex offender laws, imposing stricter penalties and making offender data more accessible to agencies and the public.[36][37] The Women's Bar Association of Massachusetts honored Clark as their 2013 Legislator of the Year for her service on women's issues.[38]

Clark's committee assignments in the state Senate were as follows:

  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse (Vice Chair)
  • Post Audit and Oversight (Vice Chair)
  • Public Health
  • Public Safety and Homeland Security
  • Steering and Policy (Chair)[39]

Congressional career[edit]

Committee assignments
115th Congress (2017–19)[40]

Clark was the Democratic nominee in the 2013 special election for the U.S. House of Representatives in Massachusetts's 5th congressional district. The district's longtime incumbent, Ed Markey, had just been elected to the United States Senate six months into his 19th term. In a heavily-contested Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic district—she was endorsed by Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley[41] and also received the endorsement of EMILY's List.[42] On October 15, 2013, she won the Democratic primary with a plurality of 32% of the vote. Her closest competitor was Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, who won 22% of the vote.[43][44] On December 10, 2013, as expected, she easily won the special election.[45]

Clark was sworn into office December 12, 2013, and sits on the House Appropriations Committee.[40] In a 2014 interview with The Boston Globe, she compared the television series House of Cards to life in Washington, saying "It's exactly like here; minus the murders."[46]

Clark was unopposed in her bid for a full term in 2014.

In March 2015, Clark decided not to attend the speech by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint session of Congress. Clark affirmed a commitment to maintaining and strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and Israel but noted that the invitation was offered without first consulting the Obama administration.[47]

Clark has introduced legislation in response to Internet harassment, most notably resulting from the Gamergate controversy, and she has advocated for more stringent enforcement of existing laws.[48] After introducing legislation that would criminalize "swatting" (falsely reporting an ongoing critical incident to dispatch an emergency response), she was herself targeted by a false report of an active shooter at her home.[49][50]

In January 2017, Clark announced a boycott of the inauguration of Donald Trump. She was part of a small group of House and Senate members who chose to boycott Trump's swearing-in ceremony. Her reasons, according to The Boston Globe, for not attending were due to her desire not to "normalize" Trump's promotion of "bigoted, misogynist, anti-Semitic, and racist claims."[51]

She is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus[52] and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.[53]

House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair[edit]

On November 28, 2018, it was announced that Clark had defeated California congressman Pete Aguilar to succeed Linda Sánchez as Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

Clark is married to Rodney S. Dowell, Chief Bar Counsel for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, the state entity that regulates the legal profession in Massachusetts.[54] They live in Melrose and have three sons, Addison, Jared, and Nathaniel Dowell.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b https://thehill.com/homenews/house/418836-clark-wins-spot-as-dem-caucus-vice-chair
  2. ^ a b https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/11/28/katherine-clark-elected-leadership-post/s0r4bKfw6e0EO1i8CO6kCN/story.html
  3. ^ a b Miller, John (December 4, 2013). "A look at the two candidates in Tuesday's special election". The Boston Globe.
  4. ^ Welch, William F.; James, Stephen F. (eds.). "Katherine M. Clark". Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2009–2010). Commonwealth of Massachusetts. p. 107.
  5. ^ a b "About". State Senator Katherine Clark (official website).
  6. ^ a b Laidler, John (February 8, 2004). "Tisei faces rare challenge". The Boston Globe.
  7. ^ Official Congressional Directory, 2013-2014 113th Congress. Joint Committee on Printing. 2014. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-0-16-091922-0.
  8. ^ "MA State Senate - Middlesex & Essex Race - November 2, 2004". Our Campaigns.
  9. ^ Laidler, John (November 7, 2004). "Area GOP candidates strike out in 5 races". The Boston Globe.
  10. ^ Cole, Caroline Louise (January 9, 2005). "Melrose: New leader for school board". The Boston Globe.
  11. ^ Cole, Caroline Louise (March 16, 2006). "Melrose: Clark withdraws from race". The Boston Globe.
  12. ^ Laidler, John (October 8, 2006). "Political Notebook: On the move to boost party". The Boston Globe.
  13. ^ a b Laidler, John (February 10, 2008). "Primaries over, final races begin". The Boston Globe.
  14. ^ "MA State House - Thirty-Second Middlesex - Special Election - D Primary Race - Feb 05, 2008". Our Campaigns.
  15. ^ "Our Campaigns - MA State House - Thirty-Second Middlesex - Special Election Race - Mar 04, 2008". Our Campaigns.
  16. ^ Laidler, John (March 9, 2008). "Newly elected are ready: Two special votes fill House seats". The Boston Globe.
  17. ^ "Our Campaigns - MA State House - Thirty-Second Middlesex Race - Nov 04, 2008". Our Campaigns.
  18. ^ "Journal of the House" (PDF). Massachusetts House of Representatives. March 13, 2008. pp. 1154–1155.
  19. ^ "Katherine Clark". Ballotpedia.
  20. ^ "Race Details". Our Campaigns.
  21. ^ "Melrose Primary: Clark wins Senate; Lucas takes GOP nomination in House race". Melrose Free Press. September 15, 2010.
  22. ^ "Our Campaigns - MA State Senate - Middlesex & Essex Race - Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns.
  23. ^ "Journal of the Senate". Massachusetts Senate. January 5, 2011.
  24. ^ "NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts releases voters guide". NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. August 26, 2010.
  25. ^ "The Pro-Choice Voters Guide". NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. Fall 2012. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  26. ^ "We're Proud to Congratulate Our Endorsed Candidates". Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, Inc. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  27. ^ Bierman, Noah (May 25, 2011). "Unions soften tone on health: Put positive spin on Senate plan; Bill aims to cut municipal costs". The Boston Globe.
  28. ^ "Governor Patrick Signs Pension Reform Legislation". Office of the Governor of Massachusetts (press release). November 18, 2011.
  29. ^ "MA honors 9 Legislators of Year". The Massachusetts Municipal Association. January 25, 2012. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  30. ^ Laforme, William (November 2, 2012). "Clark is MA Police Association's Legislator of the Year". Wakefield Patch.
  31. ^ "Governor Patrick signs legislation to help close achievement gaps in reading and get all students to proficiency by Grade 3". Office of the Governor of Massachusetts (press release). September 26, 2012.
  32. ^ "Pets and Domestic Violence". MSPCA-Angell (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center).
  33. ^ O'Connell, Joe (August 3, 2012). "Patrick signs animal control reform bill in Ashland". MetroWest Daily News.
  34. ^ Andersen, Travis (January 28, 2013). "Bill seeks end to strict limit on targets of wiretap law". The Boston Globe.
  35. ^ "An Act updating privacy protections for personal electronic information". The 188th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  36. ^ Smith, Erin (May 8, 2013). "More info on Level 1 offenders urged". Boston Herald.
  37. ^ McKim, Jenifer B. (January 24, 2013). "Bill tightens law on sex offenders: Would give public more data". The Boston Globe.
  38. ^ "WBA Holds Annual Meeting and Newly Admitted Lawyers Reception". Women's Bar Association of Massachusetts. March 21, 2013. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  39. ^ "Member Profile: Katherine Clark". Massachusetts General Court.
  40. ^ a b "Committee Information". United States House of Representatives.
  41. ^ Miller, Joshua (July 18, 2013). "Coakley backs Katherine Clark in bid for Markey's seat". The Boston Globe.
  42. ^ "EMILY's List Endorses Katherine Clark for Congress". EMILY's List. September 20, 2013.
  43. ^ Miller, Joshua (October 17, 2013). "Katherine Clark, Frank Addivinola win primaries in race to replace Ed Markey in US House". The Boston Globe.
  44. ^ Schultheis, Emily (October 15, 2013). "Katherine Clark wins Massachusetts special primary". Politico.
  45. ^ "Some Mass. Lawmakers Already Eyeing Markey Seat". WBUR News. Associated Press. February 22, 2013. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  46. ^ Jan, Tracy (June 26, 2014). "Clark on making connections across the aisle". The Boston Globe.
  47. ^ Randall, Eric (March 3, 2015). "Which Massachusetts Delegates Sat Out the Netanyahu Speech in Congress?". Boston. Metrocorp, Inc. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  48. ^ Clark, Katherine (March 10, 2015). "Sexism in Cyberspace". The Hill.
  49. ^ Joshua Miller. Police swarm Katherine Clark’s home after apparent hoax. Boston Globe, 1 Feb 2016.
  50. ^ Tim Murphy. This Democratic Congresswoman Wants the FBI to Take on Gamergate. Mother Jones, 12 Mar 2015.
  51. ^ Herndon, Astead W. (January 5, 2017). "Katherine Clark to skip Trump's inauguration in protest". Boston Globe. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  52. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  53. ^ "Members". Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  54. ^ "BBO names new chief bar counsel". Massachusetts Lawyer's Weekly (official website).

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ed Markey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 5th congressional district

December 10, 2013 – present
Party political offices
Preceded by
Linda Sánchez
Vice Chair of the House Democratic Conference
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jason Smith
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Bradley Byrne