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Michael Bennet

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Michael Bennet

Michael Bennet
United States Senator
from Colorado
Assumed office
January 21, 2009
Serving with Mark Udall
Preceded by Ken Salazar
Superintendent of Denver Public Schools
In office
July 1, 2005 – January 21, 2009
Preceded by Jerome Wartgow
Succeeded by Tom Boasberg
Personal details
Born Michael Farrand Bennet
(1964-11-28) November 28, 1964
New Delhi, India
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Susan Diane Daggett (m. 1997)
Children 3[1]
Residence Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Alma mater Wesleyan University (B.A.)
Yale Law School (J.D.)
Occupation Political assistant, college administrator, media executive, U.S. Senator
Religion Unaffiliated[2][3]
Website .gov.senate.bennetwww

Michael Farrand Bennet (born November 28, 1964) is an American businessman, lawyer, and Democratic politician. He will be the Senior United States Senator from Colorado effective January 3, 2015, due to Mark Udall's defeat in the general election on November 4, 2014. Bennet previously worked as managing director for the Anschutz Investment Company, chief of staff to then-Denver mayor (and current Colorado Governor) John Hickenlooper, and the superintendent of Denver Public Schools.

Born in New Delhi, India, he is the son of Douglas J. Bennet, a former State Department official and college president. In high school Bennet worked as a Senate page on Capitol Hill. After graduating from Wesleyan University he worked for Ohio Governor Richard Celeste. He went on to receive his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. He worked as a law clerk and later as Counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration.

Bennet worked for six years with the Anschutz Investment Company in chief of staff to Mayor Hickenlooper, he worked on balancing budgets and negotiating collective-bargaining agreements. He became superintendent of the Denver public school system in July 2005, where he revised a merit pay proposal with the support of local teachers. As one of President Barack Obama's early advisers on education issues, Bennet was speculated in late 2008 as a frontrunner for Obama's United States Secretary of Education. He was instead 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. Now serving his first full term, he is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources and is serving as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2014 elections.[4]

Early life and education

He was born in 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.[5] His grandmother, Phoebe Bennet (née Benedict), was a direct-line descendant of Edward Fuller, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean from England to Plymouth Colony on the Mayflower in 1620.[6] Bennet's mother, Susanne Christine (née Klejman),[6] immigrated to the United States with her family in 1950. Her parents were Polish Jews and survived imprisonment in the Warsaw Ghetto.[3] Bennet's mother is a retired school librarian who teaches English as a second language for a Washington nonprofit,[7] and is also an art historian specializing in Roman antiquities.[8][3]

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.[3][9][10] He was enrolled at St. Albans School, an all-boys preparatory school, and served as a United States Senate Page on Capitol Hill.[11] Bennet served as a Coro Foundation fellow in New York City.[12]

Bennet earned his B.A. in history with honors from Wesleyan University in 1987,[13] where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi, and his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal.[14]

Career before U.S. Senate

From 1988 until 1990, when he left to attend Yale, he served as an aide to Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theaters, which together required the restructuring of over $3 billion in debt. He managed, on behalf of Anschutz, the consolidation of the three theater chains into Regal Entertainment Group, the largest motion picture exhibitor in the world.[16]

Moving back into public service, Bennet served for two years as the Chief of Staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Highlights of his accomplishments at the city include: closing an initial 10-percent budget gap in the first two months of office; balancing two consecutive budgets in Denver's worst recession in history while preserving city services; conducting five collective-bargaining negotiations; devising strategies to pass five ballot initiatives; and assembling a very diverse, widely acknowledged leadership team for the city.[16]

Bennet was appointed superintendent of Denver Public Schools on June 27, 2005, taking office on the following July 1. During his tenure, he revised a merit pay proposal that earned the support of local teachers.[17]

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.[18] Bennet and his wife were early supporters of Barack Obama's presidential bid during the 2008 Democratic primaries[19] and he was among those who advised Barack Obama on education issues.[20]

U.S. Senate


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.[15] Upon taking office on January 21, 2009, he had stated that he would seek election at the end of his term in 2010.[21]

Referencing Bennet's tenure as superintendent of Denver Public Schools, Time magazine listed Bennet among eleven leading educational activists for 2011.[22] In a January 2011 article in Time entitled "Shaking Schools Up in an Already Tumultuous Year," the author of the article, 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."[23]

2010 election

county results of the race

Bennet ran for election for a full term as Senator from Colorado in the 2010 election.[24] On September 16, 2009, former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff announced his campaign to challenge Bennet for the Democratic nomination.[25] Bennet received endorsements from President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Mark Udall, and U.S. Representatives Betsy Markey, Jared Polis, and John Salazar of the Colorado congressional delegation.[24] Bennet raised $7 million and had a four-to-one cash advantage over his opponent, Andrew Romanoff.[26]

On August 10, 2010, Bennet defeated Romanoff in the primary and won his party's nomination,[27] 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.[28]

Obama praised him saying, "Michael Bennet perfectly reflects the qualities of the ruggedly independent state he has been chosen to serve. An innovator in the public and private sectors, he has shown himself willing to challenge old thinking and stale policies."[29]

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.

Committee assignments

Bennet sits on the following committees and subcommittees in the 113th United States Congress (2013–2015). Bennet also serves as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2014 midterm United States Senate elections.[30]

Source: United States Senate[31]

Political positions

Senator Michael Bennet

Internet freedom

Bennet was a co-sponsor of the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA),[32] but withdrew support after receiving feedback from the Boulder, CO, startup community.[33] On January 18, 2012, Bennet said in a statement, "Because of the complexity and technical nature of this issue, we should come to an agreement that protects against online piracy but that avoids these consequences before we move forward."[33]

Healthcare reform

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 stated, during a CNN interview, that he would support health care reform even if it meant losing the election.[34] In his speeches on the floor, Bennet emphasized reports by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to argue that a vote for health care reform is fiscally responsible.


Bennet has been a strong supporter of immigration reform. 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 aliens enrolled in higher education programs or serving in the military. Bennet has also stated that the country is in need of comprehensive immigration reform and that even bills like DREAM will not be adequate to solve US immigration problems. On January 28, 2013, Bennet was a member of a bi-partisan group of eight Senators which announced principles for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).[35]

Fiscal policy

In February 2009, Bennet voted for the $787 billion stimulus package. In August 2009, Bennet sponsored a bill which placed spending caps on the federal government. Bennet is also a cosponsor, and outspoken supporter of the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO, S.1600) Act, which would require Congressional proposals which requires spending to state in detail where the funds come from. Bennet has also been a strong supporter of financial regulatory reform, stating that he believes such reform is necessary to America’s future economic well-being, and that the proposed legislation recently unveiled by Senator Chris Dodd’s Banking Committee (of which Bennet is also a member) is a “strong start”.

Alternative energy

In December 2009, Bennet cosigned a letter to Obama and Senate majority leader Harry Reid urging them to consider supporting the Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act (S.2755). The letter, signed by the bill’s sponsor and cosponsors, explained that this bill could create as many as 10,000 new jobs. The letter further stated concern that China and other countries are passing the US in production of alternative energy, and that this bill would provide an opportunity to reduce that trend.

Personal life

On October 26, 1997, he married Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund attorney Susan Diane Daggett, in Marianna, Arkansas.[36] They have three daughters and reside in Denver's Congress Park neighborhood.[37]

Though not raised in an observant household, Bennet acknowledges his family's Jewish roots.[38][39][40] Bennet has stated that he was "raised with two different heritages, one [that] was Jewish and one [that] was Christian," and that he believes in God.[3]

His brother, James Bennet, is editor of The Atlantic and a former correspondent for The New York Times.[8]


  1. ^ Senator Michael Bennet - Biography Project Vote Smart.
  2. ^ "What Is Michael Bennet's Religion?". Politics Daily. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Mitchell, Nancy (January 24, 2009). "Bennet's tale steeped in family roots". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved January 30, 2009. 
  4. ^ John Bresnahan and Manu Raju, "Harry Reid taps Michael Bennet to run DSCC",, December 4, 2012; accessed November 27, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Boo, Katherine (January 15, 2007). "Expectations - Can the students who became a symbol of failed reform be rescued?".  
  6. ^ a b Ancestry of Michael Bennet, retrieved April 27, 2009 
  7. ^ Mitchell, Nancy (January 3, 2009). "Heading back to the Beltway".  
  8. ^ a b Phillips, Kate (January 2, 2009). "Denver Schools Chief Said to Replace Salazar in Senate". New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  9. ^ Mitchell, Nancy (January 9, 2009). "One finalist enough for DPS board". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved April 25, 2009. 
  10. ^ "10 Things You Didn't Know About Michael Bennet". June 14, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010. 
  11. ^ Vaughan, Kevin (November 29, 2008). "Michael Bennet followed his heart to the mayor's office".  
  12. ^ Michael Bennet profile,; accessed November 27, 2014.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "The Yale Law Journal masthead". The Yale Law Journal. January 1993. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b "Official press release from Governor Bill Ritter on appointment of Michael Bennet". January 3, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c "Michael F. Bennet biography". Denver Public Schools Communications Office. 
  17. ^ Bowers, Chris (January 2, 2009). "NY-Sen, CO-Sen: Kennedy and Bennet Reported As Appointees". Open Left. Retrieved November 27, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Bennet confirms he won't be Obama's education secretary". Denver Post. December 15, 2008. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Obama visits Denver".  
  20. ^ Wyatt, Kirsten (January 6, 2009). "Colo.'s new senator relatively unknown to voters". Associated Press. Retrieved January 7, 2009. 
  21. ^ Crummy, Karen (January 2, 2009). "Michael Bennet chosen as next Senator". Denver Post. Retrieved January 2, 2009. 
  22. ^ "School Of Thought: 11 Education Activists For 2011". Time. January 6, 2011. 
  23. ^ "School Of Thought: 11 Education Activists For 2011". Time. January 6, 2011. 
  24. ^ a b Riley, Michael (September 13, 2009). "Rival Colorado Democrats play game of one-upmanship". The Denver Post. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  25. ^ Bartels, Lynn (September 17, 2009). """Sources: Romanoff launches Senate bid: "Colorado is my cause. Denver Post. Retrieved September 18, 2009. 
  26. ^ Catanese, David (11 August 2010). "How Michael Bennet made it look easy". Politico. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  27. ^ Brown, Jennifer (August 10, 2010). "Bennet Wins, Buck Leads". The Denver Post. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  28. ^ Brady, Jeff (October 27, 2010). "Money Has Poured Into Colorado's Senate Race". NPR. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Obama praises new Colorado senator, Michael Bennet". CNN. 3 January 2009. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  30. ^ Trygstad, Kyle (December 4, 2012). "Sen. Bennet Named DSCC Chairman". Roll Call. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  31. ^ "Committee Assignments of the 113th Congress". United States Senate. Retrieved March 7, 2014. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ a b Sherry, Allison (January 18, 2012). "Internet crackdown shows cracks as Sen. Bennet of Colorado backs away from anti-piracy legislation". Denver Post. 
  34. ^ Stein, Sam (November 22, 2009). "Sources: Michael Bennet: I'll Lose My Seat To Support Health Care (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  35. ^ "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. 
  36. ^ "WEDDINGS; Susan Daggett, Michael Bennet". New York Times. October 26, 1997. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  37. ^ Osher, Christopher N. (December 16, 2008). "Sources: Salazar accepts Interior post". Denver Post. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  38. ^ American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise: Jewish Virtual Library entry on Michael Bennet Retrieved December 25, 2011
  39. ^ The New York Jewish Week: "In Colorado Primary, Two Jewish Democrats Square Off on Special Interests" July 13, 2010
  40. ^ Jewish News Weekly of Northern California: "In races for Congress, some Jewish incumbents at risk" August 12, 2010

Further reading

  • Michael Bennet's big gambles - Denver Public Schools, North Denver News, November 2, 2007

External links

Educational offices
Preceded by
Jerome Wargow
Superintendent of Denver Public Schools
Succeeded by
Tom Boasberg
United States Senate
Preceded by
Ken Salazar
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Colorado
January 21, 2009 – present
Served alongside: Mark Udall
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ken Salazar
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Colorado (Class 3)
Succeeded by
Most Recent Nominee
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mark Begich
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Kirsten Gillibrand
D-New York
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Mark Pryor
Youngest Member of the United States Senate
January 22, 2009 – January 27, 2009
Succeeded by
Kirsten Gillibrand
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