|United States Senator|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 1993
Serving with Maria Cantwell
|Preceded by||Brock Adams|
|Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee|
|Assumed office |
February 3, 2021
|Preceded by||Lamar Alexander|
|Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Debbie Stabenow|
|Succeeded by||Tammy Baldwin|
|Chair of the Senate Budget Committee|
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Kent Conrad|
|Succeeded by||Mike Enzi|
|Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee|
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Daniel Akaka|
|Succeeded by||Bernie Sanders|
|Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee|
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Bob Menendez|
|Succeeded by||Michael Bennet|
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Robert Torricelli|
|Succeeded by||Jon Corzine|
|Member of the Washington Senate|
from the 1st district
January 9, 1989 – January 3, 1993
|Preceded by||Bill Kiskaddon|
|Succeeded by||Rosemary McAuliffe|
Patricia Lynn Johns
October 11, 1950
Bothell, Washington, U.S.
|Education||Washington State University (BA)|
Patricia Lynn Murray (née Johns; born October 11, 1950) is an American politician who is the senior United States senator from Washington, first elected in 1992. A member of the Democratic Party, Murray previously served in the Washington State Senate and was Washington's first female U.S. senator.
Born and raised in Bothell, Washington, Murray graduated from Washington State University with a degree in physical education. She worked as a pre-school teacher and, later, as a parenting teacher at Shoreline Community College. A long-time advocate for environmental and education issues, Murray ran for the Washington State Senate in 1988, and defeated two-term incumbent Bill Kiskaddon. She served one term in the state senate, before launching a successful campaign for the United States Senate in 1992. She has been re-elected four times, and is currently running for a sixth term in the 2022 election.
As a senator, Murray has been a part of party leadership since 2001, having served as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Conference secretary, and assistant Democratic leader, among several committee chair positions. Murray garnered national attention in 2013, when she and Republican representative Paul Ryan announced that they had negotiated a two-year, bipartisan budget, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. Murray is currently the sixth most senior member of the senate, the third most senior Democrat, and the dean of Washington's congressional delegation.
One of seven children, Murray was born in Bothell, Washington, a daughter of David L. Johns and Beverly A. McLaughlin. Her mother was an accountant. Her father served in World War II and was awarded a Purple Heart. Her ancestry includes Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and French-Canadian. When she was a teenager, her family was forced to apply for welfare assistance when her father became disabled by multiple sclerosis. He had been the manager of a five-and-ten store. Murray attended Saint Brendan Catholic School as a young child.
Murray received her Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education from Washington State University in 1972. She was a preschool teacher for several years, and taught a parenting class at Shoreline Community College from 1984 to 1987.
As a citizen-lobbyist for environmental and educational issues, Murray has said, a state representative once told her she could not make a difference because she was just a "mom in tennis shoes". The phrase stuck, and she later used it in her successful campaigns for Shoreline School District board of directors (1985–89), Washington State Senate (1989–93), and United States Senate (1993–present). Murray was successful in gathering grassroots support to strike down proposed preschool program budget cuts.
U.S. Senate (1993–present)
In 1992, Murray announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate after The Seattle Times published a series of articles alleging that incumbent Democratic Senator Brock Adams had sexually assaulted a number of women. Adams denied the allegations, but his popularity weakened considerably and he chose to retire rather than risk losing the seat for his party. Murray defeated Representative Don Bonker for the Democratic nomination. In the general election she defeated Republican Representative Rod Chandler, 54% to 46%, despite being outspent by a wide margin. Chandler seemed to have the upper hand in one of the debates until for some unknown reason he quoted the Roger Miller song "Dang Me." He was further damaged by the unpopularity of President George H. W. Bush in the Pacific Northwest.
|Republican||Leo K. Thorsness||185,498||16.49%|
|Democratic||Gene D. Hart||15,894||1.41%|
|Washington Taxpayers||William Cassius Goodloe||10,877||0.97%|
|Democratic||Jeffery Brian Venezia||7,259||0.65%|
|Independent||LaPriel C. Barnes||7,044||0.63%|
|Socialist Workers||Mark Severs||3,309||0.29%|
In 1998, Murray faced Representative Linda Smith, a staunch conservative and maverick who was one of nine House Republicans to vote against confirming House Speaker Newt Gingrich in early 1997, opposed gay rights and viewed homosexuality as a "morally unfit inclination." Murray was reelected, 58% to 42%.
|Republican||Warren E. Hanson||22,411||2.15%|
|Reform||Mike The Mover||6,596||0.63%|
|Democratic||James Sherwood Stokes||5,989||0.57%|
|Socialist Workers||Nan Bailey||3,709||0.36%|
|Democratic||Robert Tilden Medley||3,350||0.32%|
|Democratic||Charlie R. Jackson||2,234||0.21%|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (Incumbent)||1,103,184||58.41%|
In 2004, Murray faced Republican U.S. Representative George Nethercutt. Term limits became an issue in the campaign, as Democrats seized on Nethercutt's broken term-limits pledge that he had made when he unseated Speaker Tom Foley in 1994. Nethercutt was also hampered by his lack of name recognition in the more densely populated western part of the state, home to two-thirds of the state's population. Washington has not elected a senator from east of the Cascades since Miles Poindexter in 1916. Other important issues included national security and the war in Iraq. Nethercutt supported the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, while Murray opposed it. Nethercutt was a heavy underdog from the start and his campaign never gained much traction. Murray was reelected, 55% to 43%.
|Democratic primary election results|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||709,477||92.20|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||1,549,708||54.98|
|Republican||George R. Nethercutt, Jr.||1,204,584||42.74|
|Green||Mark B. Wilson||30,304||1.08|
The 2010 election was the first Senate election to be held under the new blanket primary since Initiative 872 had passed in 2004. In the August 17 primary, Murray appeared on the ballot alongside four other Democratic candidates, six Republican candidates, a Reform Party candidate and three independent candidates. She received a plurality, 46%, and advanced to the general election along with her main Republican challenger, former state senator and two-time gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi, who received 33%. Leading up to the election, several prominent Washington State newspapers endorsed Murray. Rossi conceded the election to Murray on November 4, 2010, two days after election day. She won 52.08% of the vote to Rossi's 47.37%.
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||670,284||46.22|
|Democratic||Mike the Mover||6,019||0.42|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||1,314,930||52.08|
Murray ran for a fifth term in 2016. She faced three Democratic challengers in the August 2, 2016, primary election. In the general election, she faced Chris Vance. She defeated Vance, 59% to 41%.
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||745,421||53.82%|
|Republican||Eric John Makus||57,825||4.18%|
|Independent||Donna Rae Lands||11,472||0.83%|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||1,913,979||58.83|
|Democratic||Patty Murray (incumbent)||1,002,811||52.22%|
|Trump Republican||Leon Lawson||59,134||3.08%|
|JFK Republican||Dave Saulibio||19,341||1.01%|
|Democratic||Mohammad Hassan Said||13,995||0.73%|
|Socialist Workers||Henry Clay Dennison||13,901||0.72%|
|Democratic||Dr Pano Churchill||11,859||0.62%|
|Independent||Charlie (Chuck) Jackson||8,604||0.45%|
|No party preference||Martin D. Hash||4,725||0.25%|
|No party preference||Dan Phan Doan||3,049||0.16%|
- Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Defense
- Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
- Subcommittee on Homeland Security
- Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Chair)
- Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
- Committee on the Budget
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (Chair)
- Committee on Veterans' Affairs
- Senate Oceans Caucus
- Senate Aerospace Caucus
- Afterschool Caucuses
- Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus
On February 28, 2013, Murray introduced the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act into the Senate. The bill would prevent the United States Forest Service from removing a building from the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area in the state of Washington unless the agency determines that the structure is unsafe for visitors. Murray argued that the bill should be passed in order to help the tourism industry in the area while protecting the lookout point in question. The bill would be "a very small step in what will be a very long recovery" and would "provide a glimmer of hope for the long-term recovery of this area", she said, referring to the area's recovery from the casualties and damage caused by the 2014 Oso mudslide. The bill passed both the House and the Senate.
Murray supports abortion rights. She opposed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill criminalizing abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, saying on the Senate floor: "I oppose the fact that we are still voting on whether women and doctors are best equipped to make health care decisions — or politicians here in D. C." She also voted against restricting US funding for UN family planning programs.
In March 2019, Murray was one of 38 senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue warning that dairy farmers "have continued to face market instability and are struggling to survive the fourth year of sustained low prices" and urging his department to "strongly encourage these farmers to consider the Dairy Margin Coverage program."
In June 2019, Murray and 18 other Democratic senators sent USDA Inspector General (IG) Phyllis K. Fong a letter requesting that the IG investigate USDA instances of retaliation and political decision-making and asserting that not to do so would mean these "actions could be perceived as a part of this administration’s broader pattern of not only discounting the value of federal employees, but suppressing, undermining, discounting, and wholesale ignoring scientific data produced by their own qualified scientists."
In October 2017, Murray 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 the repeal's proposal 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 denying science and fabricating math would 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 February 2019, in response to reports of the EPA intending to decide against setting drinking water limits for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as part of an upcoming national strategy to manage the aforementioned class of chemicals, Murray was one of 20 senators to sign a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler calling on the EPA "to develop enforceable federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, as well as institute immediate actions to protect the public from contamination from additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)."
On December 10, 2013, Murray announced that she and Republican Representative Paul Ryan had reached a compromise agreement on a two-year, bipartisan budget bill, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.
The deal was scheduled to be voted on first in the House and then the Senate. Some believed House Democrats would pass the deal as a way to reduce the sequester cuts, but the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Chris Van Hollen, said on December 12, 2013, that "members of his party are outraged that House Republicans are planning to adjourn without addressing unemployment benefits." Van Hollen said that "it is too early to say" whether a majority of House Democrats would vote for the budget bill. The deal was also unpopular with many conservatives.
In April 2019, Murray was one of 34 senators to sign a letter to President Trump, encouraging him "to listen to members of your own Administration and reverse a decision that will damage our national security and aggravate conditions inside Central America", asserting that Trump had "consistently expressed a flawed understanding of U.S. foreign assistance" since becoming president, and that he was "personally undermining efforts to promote U.S. national security and economic prosperity" through preventing the use of Fiscal Year 2018 national security funding. The senators argued that foreign assistance to Central American countries created less migration to the U.S., citing the funding's helping to improve conditions in those countries.
In December 2010, Murray voted for the ratification of New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and the Russian Federation obliging both countries to have no more than 1,550 strategic warheads as well as 700 launchers deployed during the next seven years along with providing a continuation of on-site inspections that halted when START I expired the previous year. It was the first arms treaty with Russia in eight years.
In December 2018, after United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Trump administration was suspending its obligations in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 60 days in the event that Russia continued to violate the treaty, Murray was one of 26 senators to sign a letter expressing concern over the administration "now abandoning generations of bipartisan U.S. leadership around the paired goals of reducing the global role and number of nuclear weapons and ensuring strategic stability with America's nuclear-armed adversaries" and calling on Trump to continue arms negotiations.
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
In October 2002, Murray was one of 21 Democrats in the Senate to vote against the War Authorization for invading Iraq. Quoted from her Senate speech:
Mr. President, if we do take action in Iraq, there is no doubt that our armed forces will prevail. We will win a war with Iraq decisively, and, God willing, we will win it quickly. But what happens after the war? That will have as big an impact on our future peace and security. Will we be obligated to rebuild Iraq? If so, how? Our economy is reeling, our budget is in deficit, and we have no estimate of the cost of rebuilding. And with whom? As The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman points out, there's a retail store mentality that suggests to some—if "you break it, you buy it."
In December 2002, speaking to students at Columbia River High School in Vancouver, Murray made a number of remarks about Osama bin Laden as she attempted to explain why the US had such problems winning hearts and minds in the Muslim world, and how bin Laden had garnered support among some in the Middle East. Among other things, she said that bin Laden has "been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building daycare facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. He's made their lives better. We have not done that." This attracted attention from political opponents, who argued that this was inaccurate and constituted support for bin Laden.
In 2014, Murray introduced legislation in the Senate called The Emergency Contraception Access and Education Act. The bill would require hospitals that receive federal funding to provide rape victims with emergency contraception. In July 2014, she introduced an amendment to a bill in the Senate to require health insurance plans to offer contraceptive coverage to patients regardless of employers' beliefs, religious or otherwise. Her amendment required 60 votes to move forward, and all but three Republicans voted against the measure.
In December 2018, Murray was one of 42 senators to sign a letter to Trump administration officials Alex Azar, Seema Verma, and Steve Mnuchin, arguing that the administration was improperly using Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act to authorize states to "increase health care costs for millions of consumers, while weakening protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions". The senators requested the administration withdraw the policy and "re-engage with stakeholders, states, and Congress".
In July 2019, Murray signed a letter to United States Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta that advocated that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiate a full investigation into a complaint filed on May 20 by a group of Chicago-area employees of McDonald's that detailed workplace violence incidents, including interactions with customers such as customers throwing hot coffee and threatening employees with firearms. The senators argued that McDonald's could and must "do more to protect its employees, but employers will not take seriously their obligations to provide a safe workplace if OSHA does not enforce workers rights to a hazard-free workplace."
Today’s report makes clear what we’ve known all along: raising the minimum wage — which hasn’t increased since 2009 — to $15 an hour isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good policy.
In September 2014, Murray was one of 69 members of the US House and Senate to sign a letter to then-FDA commissioner Sylvia Burwell, requesting that the FDA revise its policy banning donation of corneas and other tissues by men who have had sex with another man in the preceding 5 years.
Beginning in 2016, in each meeting of congress, Murray and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) have reintroduced the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act into the Senate and House. This bill, if passed, would prohibit, as an unfair and deceptive act or practice, commercial sexual orientation and gender identity conversion therapy.
In March 2017, Murray was one of 21 senators to sign a letter led by Ed Markey to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that noted that 12% of adult Medicaid beneficiaries had some form of substance abuse disorder, in addition to one third of treatment for opioid and other substance-use disorders in the United States being financed through Medicaid, and opined that the American Health Care Act could "very literally translate into a death spiral for those with opioid use disorders" due to the insurance coverage lacking adequate funds for care, often causing people to abandon treatment.
In May 2006, Murray, along with 38 of 44 Senate Democrats, voted in favor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611). The bill includes provisions to improve border security, increases fines and other punishments for employers of illegal immigrants, and creates a guest worker program (which includes an almost doubling of the number of H-1B visas) and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country. The bill, with support from some in the GOP leadership, passed 62-36.
Murray repeatedly cosponsored legislation to create the Wild Sky Wilderness area in the Washington Cascade Range. She eventually succeeded, with the bill signed by President George W. Bush on May 8, 2008. Murray has also supported legislation to increase the size of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, also in the Washington Cascades.
On August 2, 2006, The New York Times wrote that, "In 1994, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was said to have engaged in excessive touching of his then-freshman colleague Patty Murray of Washington. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Murray asked for, and received, an apology. Through a spokeswoman, Murray declined to comment."
On January 30, 2008, Murray endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries. One month later, the Washington Democratic caucus awarded two-thirds of its delegates to Barack Obama and one-third to Clinton. After Clinton's June 7 concession, Murray endorsed Obama.
On May 28, 2021, Murray abstained from voting on the creation of the January 6 commission. She cited a "personal family matter" for the abstention. Murray had expressed support for the commission and had talked about her experience on the day of the insurrection.
In August 2013, Murray was one of 23 Democratic senators to sign a letter to the Defense Department, warning of some payday lenders "offering predatory loan products to service members at exorbitant triple digit effective interest rates and loan products that do not include the additional protections envisioned by the law", and asserting that service members, along with their families, "deserve the strongest possible protections and swift action to ensure that all forms of credit offered to members of our armed forces are safe and sound".
In December 2018, Murray was one of 21 senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, calling it "appalling that the VA is not conducting oversight of its own outreach efforts", in spite of suicide prevention being the VA's highest clinical priority, and requesting Wilkie "consult with experts with proven track records of successful public and mental health outreach campaigns, with a particular emphasis on how those individuals measure success".
|Washington State Senate District 1 election, 1988|
|Republican||Bill Kiskaddon (inc.)||20,480||47%|
|Year||Democratic||Votes||Pct||Republican||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct|
|1992||Patty Murray||1,197,973||54%||Rod Chandler||1,020,829||46%|
|1998||Patty Murray||1,103,184||58%||Linda Smith||785,377||42%|
|2004||Patty Murray||1,549,708||55%||George Nethercutt||1,204,584||43%||J. Mills||Libertarian||34,055||1%||Mark B. Wilson||Green||30,304||1%|
|2010||Patty Murray||1,314,930||52%||Dino Rossi||1,196,164||47%|
|2016||Patty Murray||1,913,979||59%||Chris Vance||1,329,338||41%|
|2022||Patty Murray||Tiffany Smiley|
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- Appearances on C-SPAN