|United States Senator|
|Assumed office |
January 21, 2009
Serving with Cory Gardner
|Preceded by||Ken Salazar|
|Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee|
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Patty Murray|
|Succeeded by||Jon Tester|
|Superintendent of Denver Public Schools|
July 1, 2005 – January 21, 2009
|Preceded by||Jerome Wartgow|
|Succeeded by||Tom Boasberg|
Michael Farrand Bennet
November 28, 1964
New Delhi, India
Susan Daggett (m. 1997)
|Education||Wesleyan University (BA)|
Yale University (JD)
Michael Farrand Bennet (born November 28, 1964) is an American businessman, lawyer, and politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Colorado, a seat he has held since 2009. A member of the Democratic Party, he was appointed to the seat when Ken Salazar resigned to become Secretary of the Interior. Bennet previously worked as managing director for the Anschutz Investment Company, chief of staff to then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and superintendent of Denver Public Schools.
Bennet is the son of Douglas J. Bennet, a former State Department official and president of Wesleyan University. Early in his career, Bennet worked for Ohio Governor Richard Celeste. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree, after which he worked as a law clerk and later as Counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration.
Bennet became superintendent of the Denver public school system in July 2005. Bennet was speculated in late 2008 as a candidate for Obama's United States Secretary of Education. He was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar when Salazar became Secretary of the Interior in January 2009. Bennet was elected in the 2010 Senate election where he defeated Republican Ken Buck. He chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2014 cycle and was reelected in the 2016 elections.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career before U.S. Senate
- 3 U.S. Senate
- 4 Political positions
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Electoral history
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and education
He was born in New Delhi while his father, Douglas J. Bennet, was serving as an aide to Chester Bowles, then the U.S. ambassador to India. Douglas Bennet ran the United States Agency for International Development under President Jimmy Carter, served as President and CEO of National Public Radio (1983–93), and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs in the Clinton Administration (1993–95).
His grandfather, Douglas Bennet, had been an economic adviser in Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. Bennet's mother, Susanne Christine (née Klejman), immigrated to the United States with her family in 1950. Her parents were Polish Jews and survived imprisonment in the Warsaw Ghetto. Bennet's mother is a retired elementary school librarian.
Bennet grew up in Washington, D.C. as his father served as an aide to Vice President Hubert Humphrey, among others. Bennet was held back in second grade because of his struggle with dyslexia. He was enrolled at St. Albans School, an elite all-boys preparatory school, and served as a page on Capitol Hill.
In 1987, Bennet earned his B.A. degree in history from Wesleyan University, the alma mater of his father and grandfather. At Wesleyan, Bennet was a member of Beta Theta Pi. Bennet earned his J.D. degree from Yale Law School, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal.
Career before U.S. Senate
From 1988 until 1990, when he left to attend Yale, he served as an aide to Ohio Governor Richard Celeste. After law school he served as a law clerk for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals[dead link] and as an associate to Washington attorney Lloyd Cutler. He then served as Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General during Bill Clinton's administration. Douglas Bennet worked in the Clinton White House as well, as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs. Following a stint as an assistant to the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, Bennet left the legal world and moved West. After briefly living in Montana, he moved with his fiancé to Colorado in 1997. Bennet worked for six years in Denver as Managing Director for the Anschutz Investment Company, where he led the reorganization of an oil company and helped consolidate three movie theater chains into the Regal Entertainment Group.
While working for Anschutz, Bennet befriended fellow Wesleyan alumnus John Hickenlooper, informally advising the latter's successful campaign for mayor of Denver. Moving back into public service, Bennet served for two years as Hickenlooper's Chief of Staff.
Bennet was appointed superintendent of Denver Public Schools on June 27, 2005, taking office on July 1. He had no experience as a school administrator. In 2008, Bennet persuaded the Denver Board of Education to enter into a 30-year, $750 million financial bond transaction with variable interest rates designed to fluctuate as economic conditions changed. The New York Times wrote that "In short order, the transaction went awry because of stress in the credit markets, problems with the bond insurer and plummeting interest rates." As of 2010, the school system had paid $115 million in interest and other fees, at least $25 million more than it originally anticipated.
Bennet was among the many officials whose names were circulated for United States Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration, which was eventually filled by Arne Duncan. Bennet and his wife were early supporters of Obama's presidential bid during the 2008 Democratic primaries and he was among those who advised Obama on education issues.
On January 3, 2009, he was named by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to fill the seat in the United States Senate vacated by United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on January 20. Ritter chose Bennet after interviewing several prominent Colorado Democrats, and Bennet took the job with the blessing of Hickenlooper. Upon taking office on January 21, 2009, he stated that he would seek election at the end of his term in 2010.[not in citation given]
In a January 2011 article in Time titled "Shaking Schools Up in an Already Tumultuous Year," the author, Andrew J. Rotherham, said of Bennet: "If the federal No Child Left Behind Act is modified this year, or if anything else of significance happens in Washington on education policy, this Colorado Democrat will be at the center of it."
Bennet ran for election for a full term as Senator from Colorado in the 2010 election.[dead link] On September 16, 2009, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff announced his campaign to challenge Bennet for the Democratic nomination. Bennet received endorsements from President Obama, U.S. Senator Mark Udall, and U.S. Representatives Betsy Markey, Jared Polis, and John Salazar of the Colorado congressional delegation. He raised $7 million and had a four-to-one cash advantage over Romanoff.
On August 10, 2010, Bennet defeated Romanoff in the primary and won his party's nomination, facing Republican candidate Ken Buck. The campaign became one of the most expensive in the country, with the candidates spending a reported $15 million combined, and outside groups another $30 million. Bennet portrayed Buck as an extremist conservative opposed to abortion and direct election of Senators, while Buck and the groups supporting him characterized Bennet as a big-spending liberal.
On November 3, the day after polls closed, Bennet was declared the winner and Buck conceded. Bennet won by 851,590 votes (48.1%) to 822,731 (46.4%). He subsequently returned to Washington in January 2011 to start a full six-year term. After the election, Obama said Bennet "perfectly reflects the qualities of the ruggedly independent state he has been chosen to serve."
Bennet was reelected to a second term on November 8, 2016, defeating the Republican nominee, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn. Bennet received 1.36 million votes, 156,248 more than Glenn. He received 31,780 more votes than Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who also won the state in the general election. Bennet received more votes than any other Democrat in a statewide race in Colorado history. He also won more votes in Colorado's rural counties than any other statewide Democrat in state history.
Bennet sits on the following committees and subcommittees in the 115th United States Congress (2017–19).
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
- Committee on Finance
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
As of 2010, Bennet had earned a "C+" rating from the National Rifle Association for a mixed record regarding his votes for gun rights. In 2012, Bennet joined then Colorado Senator Mark Udall in asking for stricter gun control, in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In response to the shooting, Bennet stated that "In Colorado, we support the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, we support the ability of people to hunt and recreate and to protect their families and homes, and we want to keep the wrong weapons out of the hands of the wrong people."
Bennet participated in the Chris Murphy gun control filibuster, demanding that gun laws be changed in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting. During his participation in the filibuster, Bennet talked about the 2012 Aurora shooting, citing that as a response to the shooting, the state of Colorado closed gun sale loopholes and now requires background checks for any gun purchase.
Bennet supports same-sex marriage. He lauded the Supreme Court's 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, stating on his Senate website "Marriage is a fundamental right that same-sex couples deserve to enjoy, and now they will have the same rights and opportunities that the law grants to Susan [Bennet's spouse] and me."
Health care policy
Bennet voted in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. In November 2009, when the bill was still working its way through Congress, Bennet said that he would support health care reform even if it meant losing the election. In 2016, in response to healthcare costs in western and central Colorado, which has some of the highest healthcare costs in the United States, Bennet said he "didn't have answers" and called it "next to impossible" to fix the Affordable Care Act given partisan attitudes at that time.
As part of a group of Democrats proposing "more incremental steps to broaden health care coverage", as opposed to Bernie Sanders's push of "Medicare for All", Senator Tim Kaine and Michael Bennet have proposed "Medicare X". Medicare X would "create a public option modeled after Medicare alongside private options on the ObamaCare marketplaces".
In January 2019, during the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown, Bennet was one of 34 senators to sign a letter to Commissioner of Food and Drugs Scott Gottlieb recognizing the efforts of the FDA to address the shutdown's effect on public health and employees while remaining alarmed "that the continued shutdown will result in increasingly harmful effects on the agency’s employees and the safety and security of the nation’s food and medical products."
In September 2009, Bennet cosponsored the DREAM Act (S. 729), which proposed amending the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 by giving residency to immigrants enrolled in higher education programs or serving in the military. In 2013, Bennet was a member of the Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of four Democratic and four Republican U.S. Senators who introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Their bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, passed the U.S. Senate with a vote of 68-32, but stalled in the House due to opposition from the Republican majority.
In August 2018, Bennet was one of 17 senators to sign a letter spearheaded by Kamala Harris to United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen demanding that the Trump administration take immediate action in attempting to reunite 539 migrant children with their families, citing each passing day of inaction as intensifying "trauma that this administration has needlessly caused for children and their families seeking humanitarian protection."
In 2009, Bennet co-sponsored the Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act, legislation that would have provided a tax credit to support solar manufacturing in the U.S. The legislation was not enacted.
In October 2017, Bennet was one of 19 senators to sign a letter to Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt questioning Pruitt's decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan, asserting that Pruitt used "mathematical sleights of hand to overstate the costs of industry compliance with the 2015 Rule and understate the benefits that will be lost if the 2017 repeal is finalized", and that science denial and math tricks fail to "satisfy the requirements of the law, nor will it slow the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, the inexorable rise in sea levels, or the other dire effects of global warming that our planet is already experiencing."
In November 2018, Bennet was one of 25 Democratic senators to cosponsor a resolution in response to findings of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change report and National Climate Assessment. The resolution affirmed the senators' acceptance of the findings and their support for bold action to address climate change.
Bennet has cosponsored the bipartisan STATES Act proposed in the 115th U.S. Congress by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and fellow Colorado Senator Cory Gardner that would exempt individuals or corporations in compliance with state cannabis laws from federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act.
2018–19 government shutdown
On January 24, 2019, Bennet gave an impassioned, impromptu, 25-minute speech on the Senate floor in response to comments by Senator Ted Cruz. He questioned the authenticity of Cruz's concern about difficulties that the 2018–19 government shutdown was causing to first responders, recalling that in 2013 Cruz led a shutdown that lasted 16 days at a time when Colorado was experiencing flooding.
On October 26, 1997, Bennet married Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund attorney Susan Diane Daggett, in Marianna, Arkansas. They have three daughters and reside in Denver's Congress Park neighborhood.
Though not raised in an observant household, Bennet acknowledges his Jewish roots. He has said that he was "raised with two different heritages, one [that] was Jewish and one [that] was Christian," and that he believes in God.
|United States Senate Democratic primary election in Colorado, 2010|
|United States Senate election in Colorado, 2010|
|Independent Reform||Jason Napolitano||19,450||1.09|
|Republican (write-in)||Robert Rank||52||0.00|
|Independent (write-in)||Michele Newman||20||0.00|
|Green (write-in)||Bruce Lohmiller||11||0.00|
|United States Senate election in Colorado, 2016|
|Libertarian||Lily Tang Williams||99,277||3.62|
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- "Michael Bennet defeats Darryl Glenn in Senate race in Colorado". The Denver Post. 2016-11-08. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
- Mitchell, Nancy (January 24, 2009). "Bennet's tale steeped in family roots". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on March 1, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
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- Ancestry of Michael Bennet, retrieved April 27, 2009
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- "Notable Alumni, About - Wesleyan University". www.wesleyan.edu.
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- Doyle, Patrick (May 2015). "The Accidental Senator". 5280. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
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- Catanese, David (11 August 2010). "How Michael Bennet made it look easy". Politico. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
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- Remnick, David (28 November 2016). "Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency." New Yorker
- "Obama's Last Interview," Pod Save America (19 January 2017).
- "Committee Assignments of the 113th Congress". United States Senate. Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
- "Michael Bennet on Gun Control". On The Issues. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
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- "Bennet Statement on Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling". Michael Bennet: US Senator for Colorado. 26 June 2015.
- Stein, Sam (November 22, 2009). "Sources: Michael Bennet: I'll Lose My Seat To Support Health Care (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
- Harmon, Gary (May 6, 2016). "Sen. Bennet sheds light on local issues in GJ visit". The Daily Sentinel. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Sullivan, Peter. "Democrats march toward single-payer health care". The Hill. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- "Democratic Senators "Alarmed" by Shutdown's Potential Impact on Food Safety". foodsafetymagazine.com. January 15, 2019.
- Rosa, Erin (April 3, 2009). "Bennet on the record: Supports DREAM Act for immigration reform". Colorado Independent. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- "Senators Reach a Bipartisan Agreement for Comprehensive Immigration Reform". The National Law Review. Fowler White Boggs P.A. January 31, 2013. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "S.744 - Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act". Congress.gov. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
- Weixel, Nathaniel (August 15, 2018). "Senate Dems demand immediate reunification of remaining separated children". The Hill.
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- "S. 2755 (111th): Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act". GovTrack.us. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
- Sherry, Allison (25 March 2013). "Bennet Says Yes, Udall Says No, In Split Vote On Keystone". Denver Post. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
- Schor, Elana (14 November 2014). "Michael Bennet Brings Senate's Pro-Keystone Count to 59". Politico. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
- Barron-Lopez, Laura (4 March 2015). "Keystone Veto Override Fails". The Hill. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
- Manchester, Julia. "19 sens question EPA methodology behind Clean Power Plan repeal". The Hill.
- "Merkley resolution urges quick climate change action". ktvz.com. November 27, 2018.
- "Cosponsors - S.3032 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): STATES Act". www.congress.gov. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
- Axelrod, Tal (January 24, 2019). "Bennet gives emotional speech ripping into Cruz over shutdown". The Hill. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
- Daly, Matthew (January 25, 2019). "Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet rips fellow Sen. Ted Cruz's 'crocodile tears' over shutdown". The Coloradoan. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
- "WEDDINGS; Susan Daggett, Michael Bennet". New York Times. October 26, 1997. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
- Osher, Christopher N. (December 16, 2008). "Sources: Salazar accepts Interior post". Denver Post. Archived from the original on January 11, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
- American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise: Jewish Virtual Library entry on Michael Bennet Retrieved December 25, 2011
- The New York Jewish Week: "In Colorado Primary, Two Jewish Democrats Square Off on Special Interests" July 13, 2010
- Jewish News Weekly of Northern California: "In races for Congress, some Jewish incumbents at risk" August 12, 2010
- "Colorado Secretary of State - 2016 Election Results".
- Senator Michael F. Bennet official U.S. Senate site
- Michael Bennet for Senator
- Michael Bennet at Curlie
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Collected news and commentary at The Denver Post
| Superintendent of Denver Public Schools
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Colorado
| Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
| United States Senator (Class 3) from Colorado
Served alongside: Mark Udall, Cory Gardner
| Baby of the Senate
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Senators by seniority