Mark Pocan

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Mark Pocan
Mark Pocan official photo.jpg
Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
Assumed office
May 23, 2017
Preceded byKeith Ellison
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded byTammy Baldwin
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 78th district
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byTammy Baldwin
Succeeded byBrett Hulsey
Personal details
Born (1964-08-14) August 14, 1964 (age 54)
Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
Philip Frank (m. 2006)
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison (BA)
WebsiteHouse website

Mark William Pocan (/ˈpkæn/; born August 14, 1964) is an American politician and businessman serving as the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district since 2013. The district is based in the state capital, Madison. A member of the Democratic Party, Pocan serves as Co-Chair of both the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. From 1999 to 2013 he served as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing the 78th district,[1] succeeding Tammy Baldwin there,[2] whom he also replaced in Congress when Baldwin was elected to the Senate.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Pocan was born and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He graduated from Harvey Elementary School, Washington Junior High School, and Mary D. Bradford High School in 1982. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, earning a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1986.

Shortly after graduating, Pocan opened up his own small business, a printing company named Budget Signs & Specialties, which he continues to own and run as of 2012. He is a member of the AFL-CIO, which he joined as a small business owner.[3]

Pocan's active years at UW-Madison in College Democrats led to his election in 1991 to the Dane County Board of Supervisors where he served Madison’s downtown community for three terms, leaving the board in 1996.

Wisconsin Assembly[edit]

Pocan at the 2012 Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools banquet

Elections[edit]

In 1998 Pocan's longtime friend and ally, Tammy Baldwin, gave up her seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly to make a successful run for Congress. Pocan ran to succeed her in the state legislature and won a three-way Democratic primary with 54% of the vote. He faced no Republican opponent in the general election and won with 93% of the vote against an independent. He won reelection in 2000 with 81%—the only time he faced a Republican challenger. He was unopposed for reelection from 2002 to 2010.[4]

Tenure[edit]

As a state legislator, Pocan earned a reputation for moving the Wisconsin political debate to the left. One of the most outspoken progressive members of the state assembly, he focused on difficult issues including corrections reform, the state budget, education funding, and fighting privatization schemes.[citation needed]

For six years Pocan sat on the Joint Finance Committee, including a term as co-chair. He also took on a leading role among Assembly Democrats, running caucus campaign efforts in 2008 when Democrats went from five seats down to retaking the majority for the first time in 14 years.

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Committee on Urban and Local Affairs
  • Committee on Colleges and Universities
  • Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems
  • Joint Finance Committee

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

2012

In 2012 Baldwin gave up her congressional seat in order to run for the U.S. Senate and Pocan decided to run in the open 2nd congressional district. He won a four-candidate Democratic primary with 72% of the vote. He won all 7 counties in the district, including the heavily populated Dane County with 74% of the vote.[5] The 2nd is so heavily Democratic that Pocan's victory in the primary was widely regarded as tantamount to election.[6] On November 6, 2012, Pocan won the general election, defeating Republican Chad Lee 68%-32%.[7][8]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucuses[edit]

Political activism[edit]

Pocan in July 2018

Pocan identifies as a progressive Democrat, and is a member of organizations including Wisconsin Citizens Action, the American Civil Liberties Union, Fair Wisconsin[12] and Midwest Progressive Elected Officials Network. He is also one of the few progressive Democrats to have joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative-leaning organization that produces model legislative proposals. Pocan used his membership to investigate the organization's agenda and sponsors and wrote a series of articles on his experiences with ALEC for the Madison-based magazine The Progressive.[13][when?] On the September 29, 2012 edition of Moyers and Company, Pocan said, "ALEC is a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests that eventually the relationship culminates with some special interest legislation and hopefully that lives happily ever after as the ALEC model. Unfortunately what’s excluded from that equation is the public."[14]

In September 2018 Pocan supported legislation invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to stop U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, saying, "The world’s worst humanitarian crisis has been triggered by our secretive, illegal war in Yemen waged alongside the Saudi regime. As the Saudis use famine as a weapon of war, starving millions of innocent Yemenis to near death, the United States fuels, coordinates and provides bombs for Saudi airstrikes, and secretly deploys the military to participate in on-the-ground operations with Saudi troops.”[15]

Pocan has been critical of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician criticized for misogynistic, homophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views.[16] In March 2019 he and 29 other Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that read in part, "Since the election of far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as president, we have been particularly alarmed by the threat Bolsonaro’s agenda poses to the LGBTQ+ community and other minority communities, women, labor activists, and political dissidents in Brazil."[16][17]

In April 2019, after the House passed the resolution withdrawing American support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Pocan was one of nine lawmakers to sign a letter to President Trump requesting a meeting with him and urging him to sign "Senate Joint Resolution 7, which invokes the War Powers Act of 1973 to end unauthorized US military participation in the Saudi-led coalition's armed conflict against Yemen's Houthi forces, initiated in 2015 by the Obama administration." They asserted the "Saudi-led coalition's imposition of an air-land-and-sea blockade as part of its war against Yemen’s Houthis has continued to prevent the unimpeded distribution of these vital commodities, contributing to the suffering and death of vast numbers of civilians throughout the country" and that Trump's signing the resolution would give a "powerful signal to the Saudi-led coalition to bring the four-year-old war to a close".[18]

Personal life[edit]

Pocan is openly gay. He credits his political activism in part to an incident soon after he graduated from college and opened his printing business, when two men followed him after he left a gay bar and beat him with a baseball bat while they called him "faggot" and other slurs. This gaybashing incident spurred him to become active in the Madison LGBT community.[19] Pocan was the only openly gay member of the state Assembly after Tammy Baldwin's election to Congress, and one of three LGBT members of the 100th Wisconsin Legislature,[3] alongside Sen. Tim Carpenter (D–Milwaukee) and bisexual Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D–Milwaukee).

On November 24, 2006, Pocan and his long-term partner, Philip Frank, were legally married in Toronto, Ontario.[20]

Pocan's brother William Pocan serves as a circuit court judge in Milwaukee County.[21]

Awards and honors[edit]

Pocan has received the following recognitions while in office:

  • Fair Wisconsin Statewide Leader Award (2009)
  • Planned Parenthood Rebecca Young Leadership Award (2009)
  • Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin Legislator of the Year (2008)[22]
  • Wisconsin Library Association’s Public Policy Award (2008)
  • Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault Voices of Courage Public Policy Award (2008)[23]
  • Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Honor Roll (2008)[24]
  • Wisconsin Aids Fund award (2007)
  • Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Conservation Champion (2006)
  • Wisconsin Counties Association Outstanding Legislator Award (2006 & 2008)
  • Clean Wisconsin Clean 16 Award (2004, 2002 & 2000)
  • ACLU Special Recognition Award (2001)
  • Wisconsin Federation of Teachers State Employees Council Representative of the Year (2003 & 2002)
  • Outreach Man of the Year (1999)[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wisconsin Blue Book 2011-2012. p. 71.
  2. ^ "Mark Pocan wins Madison-area US House race, keeping Baldwin's vacated seat with Democrats". chron.com. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Weier, Anita (October 28, 2004), "UW Student Challenges Rep. Pocan", The Capital Times, retrieved March 12, 2008
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns - Candidate - Mark Pocan". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  5. ^ "Our Campaigns - WI - District 02 - D Primary Race - Aug 14, 2012". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  6. ^ Weisberg, Louis. "Pocan wins Democratic Primary, on track to become next out member of Congress" Wisconsin Gazette August 14, 2012
  7. ^ "Our Campaigns - WI - District 02 Race - Nov 06, 2012". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  8. ^ Zinck, Shaun. "Pocan inherits Baldwin's seat". beloitdailynews.com. Beloit Daily News. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  10. ^ "Members of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus". Veterinary Medicine Caucus. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  11. ^ "Congressional Animal Protection Caucus - Members". Congressman Earl Blumenauer. September 13, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  12. ^ "Fair Wisconsin – Advancing, achieving and protecting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Wisconsinites". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  13. ^ ""Inside ALEC" - The Progressive". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  14. ^ "United States of ALEC - Moyers & Company - BillMoyers.com". Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  15. ^ "House lawmakers pursue end to US military role in Yemen". Stars and Stripes. September 26, 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Brazil's far-right president tweeted out a pornographic video to condemn Carnival". Vox. March 6, 2019.
  17. ^ "Reps. Susan Wild and Ro Khanna Urge Sec. of State Pompeo to Condemn Human Rights Abuses in Brazil". www.wild.house.gov.
  18. ^ Haitiwanger, John (April 5, 2019). "Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, Ro Khanna, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Trump imploring him to end US support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen". sfgate.com.
  19. ^ Pocan, Mark. "A Seat at the Table" Our Lives March/April 2012; p. 23
  20. ^ Conklin, Melanie (December 13, 2006), "Gay Legislator's Marriage Is About Being A Couple", Wisconsin State Journal, retrieved March 12, 2008
  21. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 2011-2012,' Wisconsin Circuit Court Judges, pg. 573
  22. ^ "Professional Fire Fighters" (PDF). Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, Inc. Summer 2008. p. 14. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  23. ^ "Events: Voices of Courage Awards - WCASA". Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  24. ^ "Conservation Scorecard Reports Historic Conservation Wins" (PDF). Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. July 16, 2008. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  25. ^ "Past OutReach Awards Recipients". OutReach. Retrieved June 2, 2017.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tammy Baldwin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district

2013–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Keith Ellison
Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
2017–present
Served alongside: Raúl Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Scott Peters
United States Representatives by seniority
226th
Succeeded by
Tom Rice