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Barbara Ann Mikulski (born July 20, 1936) is an Americanmarker politician of the Democratic Party, and the senior senator from the state of Marylandmarker. She is Maryland's first female senator. She is currently the most senior female Senator, having served since 1987, and ranking 17th (out of 100) in seniority. She received 1,504,691 votes in her 2004 reelection campaign, the largest number of votes to date for a Senate candidate in Marylandmarker.

Early life, education, and activism

The great-granddaughter of Polishmarker immigrant who owned a local bakery, Barbara Mikulski is the oldest of three daughters of Christine Kutz and William Mikulski. She was born and raised in historic and ethnically diverse East Baltimoremarker. During her high school years at the Institute of Notre Damemarker, she worked in her parents' grocery store, delivering groceries to seniors in her neighborhood who were unable to leave their homes.

After graduating from Mount Saint Agnes College (now a part of the Loyola College in Marylandmarker), she obtained her masters degree in social work (MSW) from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She worked as a social worker for Catholic charities and Baltimore's Department of Social Services, helping at-risk children and educating seniors about the Medicare program. Mikulski became an activist social worker when she heard about plans to build a 16-lane highway through Baltimore's Fells Pointmarker and Canton neighborhoods. She helped organize communities on both sides of the city and stopped the construction of the road, saving Fells Point and Baltimore's Inner Harbormarker.

Mikulski received her first national attention in 1970 as a result of a conference at Catholic University regarding “Ethnic Americans” convened by Msgr. Geno Baroni. Her message became one of the major documents of the “ethnic movement”.

Mikulski's activism led to a seat on the Baltimore City Council in 1971.

Congressional career

Mikulski speaking to a patient at a military hospital, 1980.
In 1974 she ran for the U.S. Senate for the first time, but was defeated by the Republican incumbent, Charles Mathias, Jr. It turned out to be the only time that Mikulski ever lost an election.

In 1976, she won the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Congressional District of Maryland after the incumbent, Paul Sarbanes, made a successful run for the Senate. She was easily elected in November, winning 76 percent of the vote. She was re-elected four more times, never facing substantive opposition in the heavily Democratic district.

In 1986 Mikulski announced her retirement from politics. At the time of this announcement, it was expected that then-Governor Harry Hughes would run for the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Mathias. However, Hughes became caught up in the aftermath of the Maryland savings and loan crisis. He lost popularity with voters, opening the door for Mikulski's bid for the Senate. During the campaign, her opponent, Linda Chavez, made comments that Mikulski's supporters interpreted as an attempt to draw attention to the issue of Mikulski's sexual orientation. Mikulski never directly responded to the issue and eventually won the race with 61 percent of the vote. She was the first female Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right (not appointed or filling a seat of a deceased husband). Mikulski is one of 11 senators to vote against both the 1991 and 2002 resolutions authorizing the use of force in Iraqmarker.

Mikulski, popularly known as "Senator Barb," was re-elected with large majorities in 1992, 1998 and 2004. Should she win reelection in 2010, she will surpass Margaret Chase Smith as the longest-serving female senator.

Committee assignments

As of April 2009, Mikulski serves on the following Senate committees:

Senate action

Mikulski has taken a strong stance against predatory lending, even going so far as to take personal action against Fairbanks Capital, which is claimed to have illegally foreclosed on over 100 homes in Maryland. She is also a strong supporter of NASAmarker and expanding space exploration.

Mikulski voted in favor of the FISA bill, which granted immunity to the telecom companies who cooperated with the warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

In 2007, Mikulski endorsed her colleague, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NYmarker) for President of the United States, praising her as a leader and citing her desire to break the "glass ceiling" by electing the first woman president.

On October 1, 2008, Mikulski voted in favor of HR1424, the Senate version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, providing a $700 billion bail out to the United States financial market.

In September 2009, it was revealed in a "tell all" book that during the 2000 presidential election, President Bill Clinton suggested Mikulski as a running mate for Al Gore, who instead chose her colleague Joe Lieberman.

Election history

Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1974 MD Senator, Class 3 General Charles Mathias Republican Barbara Mikulski Democratic
1976 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 143,461 74.59% Samuel Culotta Republican 36,447 25.41%
1978 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 91,189 100% Unopposed
1980 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 134,367 76.13% Russell Schaffer Republican 32,074 23.87%
1982 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 110,042 74.2% Robert Scherr Republican 38,259 25.8%
1984 Congress, MD 3rd district General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 133,189 68.21% Ross Pierpont Republican 59,493 30.47%
1986 MD Senator, Class 3 General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 675,225 60.69% Linda Chavez Republican 437,411 39.31%
1992 MD Senator, Class 3 General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 1,307,610 71% Alan Keyes Republican 533,688 28.98%
1998 MD Senator, Class 3 General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 1,062,810 70.5% Ross Pierpont Republican 444,637 29.5%
2004 MD Senator, Class 3 General Barbara Mikulski Democratic 1,504,691 64.77% E. J. Pipkin Republican 783,055 33.71%


  3. U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  4. U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  6. In 'The Clinton Tapes,' Bill Clinton Disses Bush, Dowd, Gore and More

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