|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 7th district
January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Ed Bryant|
|Member of the Tennessee Senate
from the 23rd district
January 12, 1999 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Keith Jordan|
|Succeeded by||Jim Bryson|
June 6, 1952
Laurel, Mississippi, U.S.
|Education||Mississippi State University (BS)|
Marsha Blackburn (née Wedgeworth; June 6, 1952) is an American politician and former businesswoman. . A member of the Republican Party, she represents southwest Tennessee's 7th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2003. She has served as a deputy whip for congress since 2005 and as chair on Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet since 2017. She first ran for the US Congress in 1992, finishing second in the election to incumbent Democrat. Formerly, she was a member of the Tennessee State Senate, serving from 1999 to 2003.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early political career
- 3 U.S. House of Representatives
- 4 2018 United States Senate elections
- 5 Electoral history
- 6 Political positions
- 7 Personal life
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life and education
Early political career
Blackburn's professional career began in 1973 when she was hired as a sales manager for Times Mirror, Inc. In 1975 she was named Director of Retail Fashion and Special Events of the Castner Knott Division of Mercantile Stores, Inc. She held this position until 1978, when she became the owner of Marketing Strategies, a promotion-event management and image consulting firm. She continues to run this business.
Blackburn was a founding member of the Williamson County Young Republicans. She became chair of the Williamson County Republican Party in 1989. In 1992, she was a candidate for Congress and a delegate to the 1992 Republican National Convention. She lost the congressional race, but remained active in politics.
In 1995, Blackburn was appointed executive director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment, and Music Commission by Tennessee governor Don Sundquist, and held that post through 1997. In 1998, she was elected to the Tennessee Senate, where she served for six years and rose to be minority whip.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 2002, Republican Ed Bryant gave up his seat as representative from Tennessee's 7th District so that he could run for the Senate. Blackburn ran against Democrat Tim Barron for the seat and was overwhelmingly elected. In 2004, she ran unopposed and was re-elected.
She joined Mitt Romney's presidential campaign as a senior advisor. In May 2007, she resigned her position in the Romney campaign and endorsed former U.S. senator Fred Thompson for president. She was re-elected in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016.
- Committee on Energy and Commerce
- Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, vice chair
- Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet, chair
- Subcommittee on Health Care
- Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, vice chair – Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade
- Select Investigative Panel on Planned Parenthood, chair
- Republican Study Committee, former communications chair
- National Republican Congressional Committee, communications chair
She was also a member of the following caucuses:
- Privacy and Data Security Working Group, chair.
- Congressional Songwriters Caucus, co-founder, co-chair
- Reliable Energy Caucus
- International Conservation Caucus
During the 110th Congress she was the communications chair for the Republican Study Committee. She served as a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee for a third consecutive term. In 2008, she won her primary race by gaining 62 percent of the vote against Shelby County registrar of deeds, and fellow former state senator Tom Leatherwood.
Redistricting after the 2000 Census moved Blackburn's home from the 6th district into the 7th district. The 6th District's Democratic incumbent congressman, Bart Gordon, had faced three tough races in the 1990s, including a near-defeat in 1994, in part due to the growing Republican trend in Nashville's suburbs. This was especially pronounced in Williamson County, the richest county in the state and the most Republican county in Middle Tennessee. It appeared that the Democratic-controlled Tennessee General Assembly wanted to protect Gordon by moving Williamson County into the already heavily Republican 7th District.
To maintain approximately equal district sizes (as required by Wesberry v. Sanders) and to compensate for the substantial increase in the 7th's population by the addition of Williamson County, the legislature shifted some of the more Democratic parts of Clarksville to the nearby 8th district. This created a district that, in the words of Memphis Magazine, stretched "in reptilian fashion" for 200 miles from eastern Memphis to southwest Nashville. Some parts of the Middle Tennessee portion of the district were only two miles wide.
In 2002, 7th District incumbent Republican congressman Ed Bryant decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Fred Thompson. Blackburn entered the primary to replace Bryant—the real contest in this Republican stronghold. Of the four main candidates, she was the only one from the Nashville suburbs. The other three, future state senate majority leader Mark Norris, conservative activist and future U.S. Attorney and Representative David Kustoff, and city councilman Brent Taylor, were all from Memphis and its suburbs. She garnered the endorsement of the conservative Club for Growth. The three Memphians split the vote in that area, allowing her to win the primary by nearly 20 percentage points.
In the general election, she easily defeated Democratic nominee Tim Barron, winning more than 70% of the vote. She was the fourth woman elected to Congress from Tennessee, but the first not to serve as a stand-in for her husband. (Irene Bailey Baker and Louise Reece had served as caretakers after their husbands died in office, and Marilyn Lloyd replaced her husband on the ballot when he died after the primary election.)
She ran unopposed for reelection in 2004, which is somewhat unusual for a freshman member of Congress, even from a district as heavily Republican as the 7th. A 2004 survey of congressional aides by the Washingtonian identified her as one of the three "best newcomers" in the House of Representatives.
Redistricting after the 2010 census made the 7th district more compact; it lost its shares of Nashville and Memphis while regaining all of Clarksville. However, it is no less Republican than its predecessor; with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+18, it is one of the most Republican districts in the South.
2018 United States Senate elections
As a long-term House Republican, on June 7, 2017, Tennessee Republican voters' poll showed that Blackburn was already popular in Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee, but she was not so popular in East Tennessee territory far away from her 7th district.
In October 2017, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, former Knoxville mayor, declined to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Bob Corker. Shortly after, Blackburn announced she will run for the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate elections. In her announcement, she stated that House Republicans are frustrated with Senate Republicans who they believe act like Democrats on important issues such as the repeal of Obamacare. She is backing President Donald Trump's policies, as with the U.S.-Mexico border wall, as well as NFL players' proper etiquette during the playing of the national anthem. Tennessee Democrats have not held either of the state's U.S. Senate seats since 1994.
|1992||Bart Gordon||120,177||57%||Marsha Blackburn||86,289||41%||H. Scott Benson||Independent||5,952||3%||*|
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, write-ins received 10 votes.
|2002||Tim Barron||51,790||26%||Marsha Blackburn||138,314||71%||Rick Patterson||Independent||5,423||3%||*|
|2004||(no candidate)||Marsha Blackburn||232,404||100%|
|2006||Bill Morrison||73,369||32%||Marsha Blackburn||152,288||66%||Kathleen A. Culver||Independent||1,806||1%||*|
|2008||Randy Morris||98,207||31%||Marsha Blackburn||214,214||69%|
|2010||Greg Rabidoux||54,341||25%||Marsha Blackburn||158,892||72%||J.W. Stone||Independent||6,319||3%||*|
|2012||Credo Amouzouvik||61,050||24%||Marsha Blackburn||180,775||71%||Howard Switzer||Green||4,584||2%||*|
|2014||Daniel Cramer||42,280||26.8%||Marsha Blackburn||110,534||69.9%||Leonard Ladner||Independent||5,093||3.2%|
|2016||Tharon Chandler||65,226||23.5%||Marsha Blackburn||200,407||72.2%||Leonard Ladner||Independent||11,880||4.3%|
In April 2009, she questioned former Vice President Al Gore during an energy-related congressional hearing: "The legislation that we are discussing here today, is that something that you are going to personally benefit from?". The Independent, a London-based periodical, has credited her for "famously put[ting Gore] on the spot about his business interests in the [energy] industry" during this confrontation. Gore denied the implied accusation, claiming all income earned from renewable technology investment goes to non-profits.
In 2013, she was chosen to manage debate on a bill promoted by House Republicans which would criminalize all abortions after 22 weeks' gestation, with limited exceptions for rape or incest. She replaced the bill's sponsor, congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), after Franks made controversial claims that the chances of pregnancy resulting from rape were "very low".
At October 2013 congressional hearings on the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare", Blackburn charged the health.gov website violated HIPAA and health information privacy rights. The next day, when a CNN interviewer pointed out that the only health-related question that the web site asks is "do you smoke?", Blackburn repeated her criticism of the site for violating privacy rights.
In November, 2016, Blackburn joined Donald Trump's presidential transition team. On November 2, 2016, Blackburn, as vice chair of Donald Trump's presidential transition team, advised the team to be "very judicious" with their words.
Health care and pharmaceuticals
Blackburn opposed the Affordable Care Act, stating that with the passage of the bill, "freedom dies a little bit today." She subsequently supported efforts to repeal the legislation, arguing that it "means well" but fails to live up to its promise. When pressed by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on the claim that the legislation included "death panels" for the elderly, she did not retract this assertion.
According to the Washington Post and 60 Minutes, Blackburn co-sponsored legislation that limited the ability of the Drug Enforcement Agency to combat the opioid epidemic. The law, which passed both the House and the Senate unanimously, weakened "aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market".
Previously, the DEA could suspend shipments of drugs that they deemed an "imminent danger" to the community. The agency must now demonstrate that the shipments constitute "a substantial likelihood of an immediate threat". The new legislation makes it "virtually impossible" for the DEA to stop these sales, according to internal agency documents, the Justice Department documents and the DEA’s chief administrative law judge. According to the Washington Post, Tennessee is in the region "in the grip of the opioid epidemic".
On February 16, 2014, Blackburn appeared on NBC's Meet The Press as a guest in a climate change segment alongside Bill Nye. She reiterated a belief that scientists do not sufficiently understand the climate to make long term predictions, and argued that a cost/benefit analysis did not support taking any action against further carbon emission increases.
Blackburn is a climate change denier and she stated her belief in 2015 that the world had cooled over the prior 13 years. She stated, "I think we've cooled almost 1 degree (F)." Data indicates that the earth's temperature had neither risen nor cooled significantly during that period. She also added that there was no evidence that could convince her that man-caused global warming was real.  Blackburn rejects the theory of evolution. Scientifically, her views on these subjects have been described as "complete nonsense".
Blackburn issued a "Statement on Stem Cell Research" in 2008. In this statement, Blackburn claimed there was an "absence of evidence that could justify the continued research into embryonic stem cells." She added that "no journals have published successful embryonic studies" and "research tells us adult stem cells are equivalent or superior to embryonic stem cells".
In March 2016, Blackburn chaired the Republican-led Select Investigative Panel, a committee convened ostensibly to "explore the ethical implications of using fetal tissue in biomedical research". Before expert testimony was heard, however, Democratic opposition objected to subpoenas demanding "names of researchers, technicians and medical personnel involved in fetal tissue handling".
Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky called the demand an "abuse of her [Blackburn's] position". Subpoenaed biotechnology executives Eugene Gu of the Ganogen Research Institute and Cate Dyer of StemExpress published an article in Nature further criticizing the intimidation of researchers and patients. Gu went on Science Friday on NPR and detailed his experiences living in close proximity to Blackburn's Congressional district and having armed United States Marshals deliver the subpoena to his home.
Blackburn has been closely associated with the telecommunications industry over the course of her career, as of 2017, Blackburn had accepted at least $693,000 in campaign contributions from telecom companies over her 14-year career in Congress.
She supported bills that restrict municipalities from creating their own broadband networks, and wrote a bill to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from preempting state laws that blocked municipal broadband.
In early 2017, Blackburn introduced to the House a measure to dismantle an Obama-administration online privacy rule that had been adopted by the FCC in October 2016. Blackburn's measure, which was supported by broadband providers but criticized by privacy advocates, repealed the rule which required broadband providers to obtain consumers' permission before sharing their online data, including browsing histories.
The measure passed the House in a party-line vote in March 2017, after a similar measure had been passed by the Senate the same week. She subsequently proposed legislation which expanded the requirement to include internet companies as well as broadband providers.
Blackburn has been a longtime advocate against marriage equality. In 2006, she voted in favor a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between one man and one woman..
Upon the Supreme Court ruling granting marriage equality to same-sex couples in all fifty states: “Today's Supreme Court decision is a disappointment. I have always supported traditional marriage. Despite this decision, no one can overrule the truth about what marriage actually is -- a sacred institution between a man and a woman.”
Blackburn voted against repealing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy.
Blackburn voted in favor of the Violence Against Women Act in the House, but voted against the Senate version reportedly because the legislation included protections for LGBT victims of violence.
Blackburn is married to Chuck Blackburn, and they live in Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville in Williamson County. The couple have two children. Her husband is the founder of the International Bow Tie Society (IBTS). She is a Presbyterian.
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- Elizabeth Bewley (March 6, 2012). "Blackburn says Romney victory in TN wouldn't surprise her". The Tennessean.
- David Lightman and Chris Echegaray (November 16, 2010). "TN senators back freeze on special spending". The Tennessean. p. 2.
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- Lawmakers Who Championed Repeal of Web Browsing Privacy Protections Raked in Telecom Campaign Cash, theintercept.com, April 13, 2017.
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- "New Poll Shows Bob Corker and Marsha Blackburn Statistically Tied in Potential Tennessee U.S. Senate GOP Primary Matchup". Tennessee Star. June 7, 2017.
- Sarah Smith (2017-10-05). "GOP Rep. Blackburn announces Senate run, says failure to repeal ObamaCare a 'disgrace'". FOX news.
- Dave Boucher and Joel Ebert and Jordan Buie (2017-10-08). "Analysis : shifting political winds forecast trouble Tennessee's establishment Republicans". The Tennessean.
- Michael Collins (2017-09-26). "In wake of Trump's NFL comments, Marsha Blackburn files resolution on national anthem etiquette". The Tennessean.
- "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
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- Usborne, David (November 4, 2009). "Al Gore denies he is 'carbon billionaire'". The Independent.
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- Peters, Jeremy (June 17, 2013). "G.O.P. Pushes New Abortion Limits to Appease Vocal Base". The New York Times.
- Tiron, Roxana; James Rowley (June 13, 2013). "Republicans Pick Female Lawmaker to Manage Abortion Bill". Bloomberg News.
- Parkinson, John (June 12, 2013). "Rep. Trent Franks Claims 'Very Low' Pregnancy Rate From Rape". ABC News.
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- "2005 Votes by State Delegation". ACU Ratings. Archived from the original on July 6, 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
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- Halper, Daniel (2016-11-11). "Mike Pence takes over Trump transition from Chris Christie". Nypost.com. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
- STEVE CHAGGARIS (May 19, 2017). "Marsha Blackburn's advice for Trump team: "Be very judicious" with your words". CBS NEWS.
- Blake, Aaron. "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Denver Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
- Nagourney, Adam (March 22, 2010). "Republicans Face Drawbacks of United Stand on Health Bill". The New York Times.
- Steinhauer, Jennifer (January 19, 2011). "Approaching Civility (if Perhaps Falling Short of Eloquence) in Debate". The New York Times.
- "Blackburn wont deny reform will create death panels". MSNBC. 2009-08-25.
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- "How Congress allied with drug company lobbyists to derail the DEA's war on opioids". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
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- Harrabin, Roger (September 23, 2015). "Ignore Pope on climate, says Republican Marsha Blackburn".
- "Blackburn Statement On Stem Cell Research". Blackburn.house.gov. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
- DeBonis, Mike (March 2, 2016). "In first hearing, GOP panel casts doubt on fetal tissue research".
- Gu, E.; Dyer, C. "Fetal tissue: US panel risks infant and researcher lives". Nature. 535: 37. doi:10.1038/535037c. PMID 27383974. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
- "Science in the Crosshairs". Science Friday. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
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- Sam Gustin. "Meet Marsha Blackburn, Big Telecom's Best Friend in Congress". Motherboard. Vice Media.
Blackburn has also been a major recipient of financial support from the nation's largest telecom and cable companies.
- Sam Gustin. "Why Marsha Blackburn's Rise Is Bad News for Net Neutrality and Science". Motherboard. Vice Media.
Blackburn has waged a relentless campaign against the FCC's policy safeguarding net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible, which she has disparaged as "socialistic."
- Brodkin, Jon. "Republicans' "Internet Freedom Act" would wipe out net neutrality". Arstechnica.com. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
- Brodkin, Jon. "Congresswoman defends "states' rights" to protect ISPs from muni competition". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
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- "House Votes To Let Internet Providers Sell Your Browsing History". Vocativ.com. 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
- Ali Breland, House Republican unveils internet privacy bill, The Hill, May 19, 2017.
- "Congressional Scorecard". HRC. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
- "10 Top Anti-Gay House GOP Members and Their Absurd Beliefs". Mic. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
- "10 Top Anti-Gay House GOP Members and Their Absurd Beliefs". Mic. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
- "Blackburn Statement on SCOTUS Marriage Ruling". House.gov. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
- "House Vote 638 - Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". ProPublica. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
- "Congresswoman Votes Against VAWA Because of LGBT Inclusiveness". The Advocate. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
- Inside The C Street House Archived 2009-07-24 at the Wayback Machine., Salon.com, July 21, 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marsha Blackburn.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Marsha Blackburn|
- Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn official U.S. House site
- Marsha Blackburn at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- MSNBC transcript, Meet the Press (February 16, 2014.
|Member of the Tennessee Senate
from the 23rd district
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 7th congressional district
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Representatives by seniority