Mark Udall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mark Udall
United States Senator
from Colorado
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byWayne Allard
Succeeded byCory Gardner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2009
Preceded byDavid Skaggs
Succeeded byJared Polis
Member of the Colorado House of Representatives
from the 13th district
In office
January 1997 – January 1999
Preceded byPeggy Lamm
Succeeded byTom Plant
Personal details
Mark Emery Udall

(1950-07-18) July 18, 1950 (age 73)
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Maggie Fox
(m. 1982)
EducationWilliams College (BA)

Mark Emery Udall (/ˈjudɔːl/ YOO-dawl; born July 18, 1950) is an American politician who served as a United States Senator from Colorado from 2009 to 2015. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served in the United States House of Representatives, representing Colorado's 2nd congressional district. Prior to being elected to Congress, he represented parts of Boulder, Colorado in the Colorado House of Representatives.

Throughout his career he has proposed legislation to support renewable energy, expand national parks and protect natural resources. Born in Tucson, Arizona, he is the son of former U.S. Representative Mo Udall and the nephew of former U.S. Representative Stewart Udall. A member of the Udall family, a western American political family, his relatives include New Mexico's Tom Udall and Utah's Mike Lee. Udall ran for reelection in 2014 to a second term in the U.S. Senate, but was narrowly defeated by Republican challenger Cory Gardner.

Early life and education[edit]

The Blue Peter nautical flag which indicates a vessel is "Outward Bound" is used as the program's symbol.

Mark Udall was born in Tucson, Arizona, to Patricia J. (née Emery) and Morris "Mo" Udall, the U.S. representative for Arizona's 2nd congressional district from 1961 to 1991, and candidate for the 1976 Democratic nomination for President. Udall attended and graduated from Canyon del Oro High School in 1968, where he was elected student body president.[1] Udall won the Arizona State Golf Championship Boy's division in 1968.[2]

Udall later graduated from Williams College in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts in American civilization.[1] In 1976 Udall worked as a field coordinator for his father's campaign to win the Democratic nomination against Jimmy Carter.[3]

After college, Udall moved to Colorado and began his career with Outward Bound, a non-profit outdoor education organization.[4][5] For ten years Udall worked as a course instructor, in which he would bring patrons on outdoor expeditions. During his career in Outdoor Adventure Education he also was an instructor at DoDDS's Project Bold, located at the Hinterbrand Lodge in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Afterward, Udall served as Outward Bound's Executive Director for ten years, after which Udall decided to retire, completing his twenty-year career with Outward Bound.[6]

Colorado House of Representatives[edit]

In 1996, Udall was encouraged to run for the Colorado House of Representatives by Peggy Lamm of the 13th district, who had decided to retire.[7] After running a grassroots campaign in the swing district, Udall narrowly defeated Republican Drew Bolin to represent the Longmont and Boulder district.[8] During his two years in office, Udall served on the Judiciary and Agriculture Livestock & Natural Resources Committees.[9]

While in the Colorado House, Udall proposed legislation titled "Renewable Electricity Standard." It would have required at least 10% of energy consumed in Colorado to be provided by renewable sources rather than fossil fuels. The bill died in committee.[7] Udall chose not to run for re-election, instead decided to run for the United States Congress. He was succeeded by fellow Democrat, Tom Plant.[8]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


After one term in the Colorado House of Representatives, Udall opted to run for Colorado's 2nd congressional district, which was being vacated by incumbent David Skaggs. In the primary, Udall had four opponents: Gene Nichol, Paul Weissmann, and Dave Thomas. He won with 44% of the vote, defeating his closest opponent Nichol by 7 percentage points.[10] He faced the Republican nominee, Boulder, Colorado Mayor Bob Greenlee in the general election. The race was unexpectedly close, with Udall narrowly winning, 49–47%. Udall was consecutively elected to five terms in the House, without major opposition. He was eventually succeeded by Jared Polis, after he decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Wayne Allard.[11]

U.S. Senate[edit]



In 2004, Udall announced his candidacy for the Senate seat which was being vacated by Ben Nighthorse Campbell. However, the following day, Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar announced his candidacy as well. Udall bowed out of the race and endorsed Salazar.[12]

Senate election results by county.

On January 15, 2007, incumbent Senator Wayne Allard announced he would not run for a third term.[13] In April 2007, Udall announced his campaign for the Senate.[14] Udall became the Democratic nominee for the race after running unopposed in the primary.[15] In the general election, Udall faced former U.S. Representative Republican Bob Schaffer. By August 28, 2008, over $10 million had been spent on attack ads against Udall by political parties and political action committees, an amount higher than in any other Senate race that year.[16]

The race was especially competitive, with Democrats wanting to expand their majority as much as possible due to that year's presidential election.[17] While both CQ Politics[18] and The Rothenberg Political Report[19] estimated Udall would win, and The Cook Political Report considered it a 'Toss Up,'[20] Udall maintained a steady lead in the polls, but with neither candidate usually topping 50%.[21] Udall described the race as "the toughest climb I've ever taken."[17] On November 4, Udall won the election with 52% of the vote.

Senate election results by county.

On January 7, 2013, Udall announced he was running for re-election.[22] Udall was unopposed in the Democratic primary, and faced Republican U.S. Representative Cory Gardner in the general election. Although Udall was heavily favored in early polls, around September, Gardner gained and held a steady lead thereafter.[23]

Udall's re-election campaign focused on reproductive and women's rights. Throughout, Udall attacked Gardner for his former support of a fetal personhood initiative, and claimed in ads that Gardner "championed an eight-year crusade to outlaw birth control here in Colorado." rated his claim "half-true," saying that it "leaves out important details."[24][25] On MSNBC's The Last Word, Alex Wagner attributed Udall's trailing poll numbers to his "focus on reproductive rights."[26] Due to his campaign's emphasis on these issues, Udall was ridiculed as "Mark Uterus."[27] In an October 2014 Denver Post endorsement of his opponent, the editorial board stated that "Udall's campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision."[28]

Towards the end of his campaign, Udall was accompanied by Second Lady of the United States Jill Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.[29] In July 2014, President Barack Obama headlined a fundraiser for Udall's campaign.[30]

Senate tenure[edit]

Less than one month after Udall took office in the Senate, newly elected President Obama nominated senior Colorado Senator Ken Salazar to serve as his Secretary of the Interior. After his confirmation, Udall became the Senate's most junior senior Senator.[31]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]


NARAL Pro-Choice America gives Udall a 100% rating for abortion rights,[32] while his opponent in 2014, Cory Gardner, earned a 0% rating.[33]


In February 2014, Udall voted for the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, a $1 trillion bill that ended direct payments to farmers but expanded crop insurance by $7 billion over the next decade, created new subsidies for rice and peanut growers that will kick in if or when prices drop, and cut food stamp subsidies for 1.7 million people in 15 states.[34][35]

In 2011, Maine Senator Susan Collins and Udall successfully introduced an amendment to the Senate's agriculture appropriations bill. The amendment to the appropriations bill removed a limit placed on potatoes in the USDA new school nutrition guidelines.[36]

Campaign finance reform[edit]

Udall is a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One,[37] a bipartisan organization dedicated to reducing the influence of money in politics.


Although Senator to the first state to legalize the recreational sale of marijuana, Udall took no official stance on Colorado Amendment 64 during its campaign.[38] After Amendment 64 and Washington state's similar initiative passed in 2012, Udall and the Senate delegations from Washington addressed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, imploring them to "let this experiment unfold," as Udall characterized it.[39]

Domestic security[edit]

Udall has been an opponent of the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance programs.[40] Following the revelation of the NSA's mass surveillance of Americans, Udall has been an advocate for reform.[41][42] Udall, along with Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul, published an Op-ed in the Los Angeles Times expressing their collective desire to "end the dragnet — and to affirm that we can keep our nation secure without trampling on and abandoning Americans' constitutional rights."[43] Udall expressed his support for Edward Snowden to return to America to "make his case."[44] After reports that the Central Intelligence Agency improperly spied on U.S. Senators, Udall called for the resignation of Agency Director John O. Brennan.[45]

After the September 11 attacks, the one-term Representative Udall was one of 66 House members to vote against the Patriot Act.[1] In 2011, Udall voted against reauthorizing the Patriot Act.[46] In July 2014, Udall voted against the CISPA bill, a proposed law which would allow for the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and technology and manufacturing companies, voicing his concerns that it "lacks adequate protections for the privacy rights."[47]

During the 2011 debate over the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA), Udall introduced an amendment to end the practice of military detention of American citizens indefinitely and without trial. In response to the amendment's introduction, the Obama administration threatened to veto the bill.[48] The amendment was rejected by a vote of 60–38 (with 2 abstaining).[49] Udall subsequently voted for the Act in the joint session of Congress that passed it, and though he remained "extremely troubled" by the detainee provisions, he promised to "push Congress to conduct the maximum amount of oversight possible".[50]

Udall has supported PRISM, a clandestine anti-terrorism mass electronic surveillance data mining program launched in 2007 by the National Security Agency (NSA); however, he has also expressed support for introduction of measures to reform and limit the scope of the Patriot Act; 'The Patriot Act should be reformed so Americans' phone records do not get indiscriminately swept up in a federal government database.'[51]


Udall voted for the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007, which would have eliminated secret ballot in voting to unionize businesses, and said that he supported the measure because the National Labor Relations Board would be the best forum to deal with concerns raised by the bill's opponents.[52]

On February 13, 2009, Udall voted to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (commonly referred to as The Stimulus or The Recovery Act).[53]

In December 2010, Udall was one of seven Democrats to vote against a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years as well as fund unemployment benefits for an additional 13 months, having stated, "Days after the most substantive national conversation we've had about addressing the debt, the debate suddenly has turned to extending tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires that — alone — will cost $700 billion over the next decade."[54]

Energy and environment[edit]

Udall has supported tax breaks for renewable energy and the expansion of national parks. Udall has a lifetime rating of 97% from the League of Conservation Voters.[55][56][57][58]

In 2004, Udall helped lead a statewide ballot initiative (Amendment 37) to adopt the Renewable Electricity Standard, a standard he originally introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives. Working with the Republican Colorado House Speaker, the measure mandating 10% of energy consumed be from renewable sources, passed by a close margin 52% to 48%.[59][60][61]

Throughout his career Udall has introduced the "Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act," which was passed in 2011. The act allows ski resorts to offer activities in the summer.[1][62] In 2009, Udall introduced legislation to address the environmental damage caused by the pine beetle infestation in Colorado's forests, in what Udall described as one of the "biggest natural disasters."[63]

In July 2014, Udall came out in opposition of two Colorado ballot initiative that would have limited hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", and created an "Environmental Bill of Rights." While his opposition to the initiative aligned him Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, it put him at odds with the main proponent of the bills and his House district successor, Jared Polis.[64] Udall has repeatedly voted against the Keystone XL pipeline, having said that he wants to wait until a technical review of the project by the State Department is complete.[65]

Gun policy[edit]

One week after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Colorado Senators Udall and Michael Bennet came out in support of a Federal Assault Weapons Ban.[66] On the issue, Udall commented "if we can save one child in the future from being killed in such a way, I'm ready to push those kinds of policies."[67] On April 17, 2013, Udall supported a failed amendment to expand background checks for gun purchases.[68]

In 2009, Udall upset gun control advocates for supporting an amendment that would have allowed concealed weapons to be transported across state lines.[1][69] The National Rifle Association of America gave an "F" grade during his time in the House of Representatives. While during his tenure in the Senate, they have given him a "C".[70][71]

In 2023, Udall said if “in a time machine and going back” he would bring a grim message to himself: “This is going to get worse and worse. More and more people are going to be deeply affected by this.” He would vote for the ban and “take the political heat.”[72]

Health policy[edit]

In December 2009, Udall voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[73][74] Udall has also stated his support for a public option about which he stated, "[t]he reason I support a public option, if it's done in a fiscally responsible way, is it would create competition. Competition drives down cost and what we want to do is make insurance affordable for all Americans."[75]

In November 2013, Udall was critical of the Colorado Division of Insurance concerning the Division's estimates of the number of Colorado residents whose medical insurance was cancelled in response to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.[76][77] Udall's office wanted the Division to lower the number from 250,000 because it believed the majority of individuals counted had received renewal options. The Division refused to change the numbers. Administrators at the Colorado Division of Insurance said they felt pressured by members of Udall's staff to change their estimates of policy cancellations.[78] A panel which investigated the matter concluded Udall's office behaved appropriately, however the investigation was criticized because the chair was appointed by Democratic governor John Hickenlooper; all other members of the panel were selected by the chair, who refused to name the other members of the panel, and left no written records of its investigation.[77]

Personal life[edit]

Udall is married to Maggie Fox, an environmental lawyer who previously served as CEO of The Climate Reality Project.[11] The two met while working at Outward Bound, and were married in 1982.[7][79] They have two children, Jedediah and Tess.[1][6][80] A golfer, Udall was referred to as one of Congress' better players.[81]

Udall has said "there isn't a Coloradan out there who doesn't cycle, hunt, hike... We're an outdoor state. It fits our worldview, and it's how we define ourselves."[5] An experienced mountaineer, Udall has climbed many peaks during his work as an Outward Bound instructor, and in his personal life. Udall has climbed Colorado's 100 tallest peaks, known as "The Colorado Centennials," as well as Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas and Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America. He has also attempted Mount Everest multiple times.[1][5][82][83]

In 1986, Udall and his wife went on a group trek of Mount Garmo. During the climb, Maggie broke her leg, and their fellow climber, Steve Monfredo, died on the mountainside.[84] Udall's 61-year-old brother, Randy Udall, went missing on June 26, 2013, after going on a solo hike in Wyoming's Wind River Range.[85] On July 3, 2013, a body, later identified as that of Randy Udall, was found approximately 80 miles southeast of Grand Teton National Park.[86]

Electoral history[edit]

Year Office District Democrat Republican
1996 Colorado House of Representatives 13th district Mark Udall 50% Drew Bolin 45%
1998[87] United States House of Representatives Colorado's 2nd District Mark Udall 49% Bob Greenlee 47%
2000[88] United States House of Representatives Colorado's 2nd district Mark Udall 55% Carolyn Cox 38%
2002[89] United States House of Representatives Colorado's 2nd district Mark Udall 61% Sandy Hume 37%
2004[90] United States House of Representatives Colorado's 2nd district Mark Udall 67% Stephen Hackman 30%
2006[91] United States House of Representatives Colorado's 2nd district Mark Udall 68% Rich Mancuso 28%
2008 United States Senate Colorado (Class 2) Mark Udall 52% Bob Schaffer 42%
2014 United States Senate Colorado (Class 2) Mark Udall 46% Cory Gardner 48%

See also[edit]


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  38. ^ Valerie Richardson (September 25, 2014). "Colorado marijuana VIPs raise green stuff for Sen. Mark Udall". The Washington Times.
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  42. ^ Owen Bowcott & Spencer Ackerman (October 14, 2014). "Mass internet surveillance threatens international law, UN report claims". The Guardian.
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  45. ^ Igor Bobic (July 31, 2014). "Sen. Mark Udall Calls For CIA Director John Brennan To Resign". Huffington Post.
  46. ^ Allison Sherry (May 27, 2011). "Colorado Sen. Mark Udall votes against Patriot Act extension". Denver Post.
  47. ^ Jason Koebler (July 9, 2014). "CISPA's Privacy-Killing Successor Just Cleared Its First Hurdle". Vice.
  48. ^ Michael McAuliff & Jennifer Bendery (November 30, 2011). "Senate Votes To Let Military Detain Americans Indefinitely, White House Threatens Veto". Huffington Post.
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  50. ^ "Despite concerns, Udall gives nod to Defense Authorization bill." Denver Post, December 15, 2011.
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  85. ^ "Sen. Mark Udall's brother, James, missing after hiking in Wyoming". UPI. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
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  91. ^ "STATISTICS OF THE CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION" (PDF). Federal government of the United States. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. 2006.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Colorado
(Class 2)

2008, 2014
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Colorado
Served alongside: Ken Salazar, Michael Bennet
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Senator Order of precedence of the United States Succeeded byas Former US Senator