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Ben Cardin

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Ben Cardin

Ben Cardin
United States Senator
from Maryland
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Serving with Barbara Mikulski
Preceded by Paul Sarbanes
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Barbara Mikulski
Succeeded by John Sarbanes
Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates
In office
January 6, 1979 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by John Hanson Briscoe
Succeeded by Clayton Mitchell
Member of the Maryland House of Delegates
from the 42nd district
In office
January 6, 1967 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Maurice Cardin
Succeeded by David Shapiro
Personal details
Born Benjamin Louis Cardin
(1943-10-05) October 5, 1943
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Myrna Edelman
Children Deborah
Residence Baltimore, Maryland
Alma mater University of Pittsburgh
University of Maryland
Religion Judaism
Website Senate website

Benjamin Louis "Ben" Cardin (born October 5, 1943) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who serves as the junior United States Senator from Maryland, in office since 2007. Before his election to the Senate, Cardin, who has never lost an election, was a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Maryland's 3rd congressional district from 1987 to 2007. He also served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967 to 1987, serving as Speaker from 1979 to 1987. He was the youngest Speaker in Maryland history.

Cardin was elected to succeed Paul Sarbanes in the 2006 U.S. Senate election, defeating Republican Michael Steele, the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, by a margin of 54% to 44%. He was re-elected in 2012 with 55% of the vote. He will become the senior Senator upon the forthcoming and announced retirement of Barbara Mikulski.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Political career 2
    • Maryland House of Delegates 2.1
    • U.S. House of Representatives 2.2
      • Committee assignments 2.2.1
    • U.S. Senate 2.3
      • 2006 election 2.3.1
      • 2012 election 2.3.2
      • Committee assignments 2.3.3
    • Caucus membership 2.4
  • Accolades 3
    • 2015 3.1
  • International experience 4
  • Honors 5
  • Policies 6
  • Family 7
  • Volunteer service 8
  • Election history 9
  • Footnotes 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

Early life and career

Cardin was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Dora (née Green) and Meyer M. Cardin (1907–2005).[1] The family name was originally Kardonsky before it was changed to Cardin. Cardin's grandparents were Russian Jewish immigrants. His grandfather operated a neighborhood grocery store that later turned into a wholesale food distribution company.[2] His father, Meyer Cardin, served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1935 to 1937, and later sat on the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City from 1961 to 1977.[3]

Cardin and his family attend the Modern Orthodox Beth Tfiloh Congregation near their home, with which the family has been affiliated for three generations. He graduated from Baltimore City College in 1961 and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in 1964 from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. He earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1967, graduating first in his class. Cardin was admitted to the Maryland Bar that same year, and entered a private practice.

Political career

Maryland House of Delegates

Cardin served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967 to 1986. First elected while still attending law school,[2] he served in the seat once held by his uncle, Maurice Cardin, who had decided to not run for reelection so that his nephew could instead pursue the seat. He was chairman of the Ways & Means Committee from 1974 to 1979, then Speaker of the House until he left office. At age 35, he was one of the youngest Speakers in Maryland history. As Speaker, he was involved with reform efforts involving Maryland's property tax system, school financing formula, and ethical standards for elected officials.[4]

U.S. House of Representatives

In 1986, with then-Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski running for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Senator Charles Mathias, Cardin ran for Mikulski’s seat representing the 3rd Congressional District. Cardin won the Democratic nomination with 82 percent of the vote, and became Congressman in the general election with 79 percent of the vote against a perennial candidate, Republican Ross Z. Pierpont.

On the floor of the House, Rep. Cardin calls for the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq by 2007, June 12, 2006.

Cardin was reelected nine times, rarely facing serious opposition and even running unopposed in 1992. In the 2000 round of redistricting, his district was altered to add significant portions of Anne Arundel County, including the state capital of Annapolis, to his Baltimore-based district. His last two opponents hailed from Anne Arundel and nearly carried the district's portion of that county.

In the House, Cardin was involved with fiscal issues, pension reform, and health care. His legislation to increase the amount individuals can store in their 401k plans and IRAs was passed in 2001. His bill to expand Medicare to include preventive benefits such as colorectal, prostate, mammogram, and osteoporosis screening was also enacted. He also authored legislation to provide a Medicare prescription drug benefit for chronic illnesses; fund graduate medical education; and guarantee coverage for emergency services.[4]

Cardin has also advocated, via proposed legislation, welfare reform. His bill to increase education and support services for foster children between ages 18 and 21 was signed into law in 1999.[4] He authored bills to expand child support, improve the welfare-to-work program, and increase the child care tax credit.[4]

In 1998, Cardin was appointed Chairman of the Special Study Commission on Maryland Public Ethics Law by the Steering Committee of the House Democratic Caucus, and served as Senior Democratic Whip.

Cardin has been commended for his work with fiscal policy. He has been honored by Worth magazine and by Treasury and Risk Management for his work protecting retirement plans and government-supported medical care for the elderly. He has also received scores of 100% percent from the League of Conservation Voters and the NAACP, indicating stances that are in favor of environmental protection and civil rights. Cardin was also one of 133 members of Congress to vote against the 2002 Iraq Resolution.[5]

Rep. Cardin (at podium) joins Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (center) (R-MD) and Jo Ann Davis (left) (R-VA) in calling for a study of homeland security needs of the National Capital region, including Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Committee assignments

As of May 2006, Cardin served on the following House committees:

U.S. Senate

2006 election

On April 26, 2005, Cardin announced that he would seek the U.S. Senate seat of long-standing senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), following the announcement by Sarbanes that he would not be running for re-election in 2006. On September 12, 2006, Cardin faced a challenging primary battle with other Maryland Democrats, including Kweisi Mfume, Josh Rales, Dennis F. Rasmussen, and Allan Lichtman. Cardin won, however, with 44 percent of the vote, compared to 40 percent for Mfume, five percent for Rales, and two percent for Rasmussen.[6] He was declared the winner after just two percent of the precincts reporting.

Cardin won election on November 7, 2006, defeating Republican challenger Michael Steele 54 percent to 44 percent.[7] Cardin became the third consecutive Representative from Maryland's 3rd Congressional District to be elected Senator (following Sarbanes and Mikulski).

2012 election

Cardin ran for re-election to a second term in 2012. He turned back a primary challenged from State Senator C. Anthony Muse, defeating him 74% to 16%, with seven other candidates taking the remaining 10%.

In the general election, he faced Republican Dan Bongino, a former United States Secret Service agent, Independent Rob Sobhani, an economist and businessman and Libertarian Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, President of the Minaret of Freedom Institute. Cardin easily won the election, taking 55% of the vote to Bongino's 27%, Sobhani's 17% and Ahmad's 1%.

Committee assignments

Cardin currently serves on the following Senate Committees in the 114th United States Congress:

Caucus membership



  • Cardin was credited in April 2015 with facilitating, as the new Ranking Member, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 19-0 vote on the markup for the bill on the USA's involvement in the negotiations with Iran on nuclear technology. He had become ranking member only two weeks before, upon the departure of Senator Robert Menendez.[9]

International experience

Cardin has been a Commissioner on the

Political offices
Preceded by
John Hanson Briscoe
Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates
Succeeded by
Clayton Mitchell
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Barbara Mikulski
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
John Sarbanes
Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul Sarbanes
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland
(Class 1)

2006, 2012
Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Paul Sarbanes
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Maryland
Served alongside: Barbara Mikulski
Preceded by
Alcee Hastings
Chairman of the Joint Helsinki Commission
Succeeded by
Chris Smith
Preceded by
Chris Smith
Chairman of the Joint Helsinki Commission
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bob Menendez
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Bernie Sanders
  • Senator Ben Cardin official U.S. Senate site
  • Ben Cardin for Senate
  • Ben Cardin at DMOZ
  • Appearances on C-SPAN

External links

Further reading

  1. ^ Genealogy of Ben Cardin
  2. ^ a b "About Ben Cardin". Ben Cardin for Senate. 
  3. ^ "Baltimore City Supreme Bench". Maryland Archives. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Senator Benjamin L. Cardin : Maryland". Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  5. ^ "Senator Benjamin L. Cardin : Maryland". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  6. ^ "2006 Gubernatorial Election". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  7. ^ [3] Archived February 21, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Portman and Durbin Launch Senate Ukraine Caucus". Rob Portman United States Senator for Ohio. February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2015. 
  9. ^ Thrust Into Iran Bill Talks, Cardin Delivers - Senator Took Top Dem Post At Start of Tense Negotiations, John T Bennett, Defense News, 16 April 2015
  10. ^ [4] Archived March 28, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Cardin, Sarbanes get high marks for Obama support; Mikulski's attendance slips". Baltimore Sun. 
  13. ^ "NJ Rankings". National Journal. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "USPSA" (PDF). Public Service Academy. 
  17. ^ "Benjamin Cardin - Israel". The Political Guide. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Cardin bill angers whistleblower advocates". 24 November 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c "CNBC Interview". CNBC Interview. 
  21. ^ Quinlan, Paul (1 July 2011). "Sen. Cardin Hopes to Bridge Divide Over Water". New York Times. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  22. ^ Quinlan, Paul (1 July 2011). "Sen. Cardin Hopes to Bridge Divide Over Water". New York Times. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  23. ^ "Sen. Ben Cardin (D)". National Journal Almanac. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Linn, Leticia (2006-11-03). "Candidate Profile: U.S. Senate: Ben Cardin (D)". Southern Maryland Online. 
  25. ^ "Death Record»Michael A Cardin", Death record, retrieved March 23, 2013.
  26. ^ "Congressman's son dies suddenly", Google Groups, March 25, 1998.
  27. ^ — Baltimore Sun, March 18, 2003Two famous-name freshmen begin to carve own niche in Md. House


Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1986 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 100,161 79.11% Ross Pierpont Republican 26,452 20.89%
1988 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 133,779 72.9% Ross Pierpont Republican 49,733 27.1%
1990 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 82,545 69.73% Harwood Nichols Republican 35,841 30.27%
1992 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 163,354 99.98% Unopposed
1994 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 117,269 70.97% Robert Tousey Republican 47,966 29.03%
1996 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 130,204 67.31% Patrick McDonough Republican 63,229 32.69%
1998 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 137,501 77.61% Colin Harby Republican 39,667 22.39%
2000 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 169,347 75.66% Colin Harby Republican 53,827 24.05% Joseph Pomykala Libertarian 238
2002 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 145,589 65.72% Scott Conwell Republican 75,721 34.18%
2004 Congress, MD-3 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 182,066 63.39% Bob Duckworth Republican 97,008 33.77% Patsy Allen Green 4,224 2.75%
2006 MD Senator, Class 1 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 965,567 54.20% Michael S. Steele Republican 787,352 44.20% Kevin Zeese Green 27,570 1.55%
2012 MD Senator, Class 1 General Benjamin Cardin Democratic 1,474,028 56.0% Dan Bongino Republican 693,291 26.3% S. Rob Sobhani Independent 430,934 16.4%

Election history

For many years Cardin served on the Board of Trustees for St. Mary's College of Maryland. He was very active on the board and also played key roles in the establishment of the Center for the Study of Democracy at the college, where he also served on the advisory board.

Volunteer service

In 2002, Ben’s 32-year-old nephew, Jon S. Cardin, who graduated from University of Maryland law school in 2001, ran for election as a Delegate representing District 11 of western Baltimore County. With state legislative District 11 overlapping Congressional District 3, there were two Cardins on the ticket in this area in 2002. Present at Jon’s swearing in was the oldest living former member of the House of Delegates at 95 years of age, Meyer Cardin, Jon’s grandfather and Ben’s father. Also in attendance was Ben himself, who stated, "The next generation's taking over."[27] After Ben announced that he would vacate his Congressional seat to run for the U.S. Senate, Jon Cardin stated that he was exploring a campaign for his uncle's Congressional seat, though he ultimately decided to seek reelection to the House of Delegates.

Cardin married high school sweetheart Myrna Edelman, a teacher,[24] on November 24, 1964. They have a daughter, Deborah. Their son Michael committed suicide on March 24, 1998[25] at age 30.[26] He has two granddaughters.


In the 111th Congress, Cardin helped secure dental benefits in the State Children's Health Insurance Plan.[23]

Liberal environmentalists criticized Cardin for compromising too much while working with conservative James Inhofe on an amendment to Cardin's Chesapeake Bay legislation.[21] Josh Saks, senior legislative representative for water resources campaigns with the National Wildlife Federation, praised Cardin as "the lead voice for clean water and the restoration of America's great waters in Congress."[22]

Cardin is opposed to eliminating the tax loophole for charitable deductions and supports raising taxes on higher income earners.[20] During a December 20, 2012, interview with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC, Cardin stated, "We're now a few days away from Christmas. The easiest way to get the revenues is to get the rates from the higher income, uh, taxpayers."[20] In response to the question, "Are you prepared to vote to limit the loophole of charitable deductions?" Cardin responded, "No."[20]

In November 2011, Cardin's intended update of the 1917 Espionage Act upset some public disclosure advocates. They complained that it "would make it harder for federal employees to expose government fraud and abuse."[19]

Cardin is also pro-Israel and pro-India.[17] He supported civilian nuclear cooperation with India.[18]

In 2007, Cardin supported the United States Public Service Academy Act. The Act would serve to create "an undergraduate institution devoted to developing civilian leaders." Like the Military Academies, this would give students 4 years of tuition-free education in exchange for 5 years of public service upon graduation.[16]

Cardin supports Net Neutrality, as shown by his vote during the 109th Congress in favor of the Markey Amendment to H.R. 5252 which would add Net Neutrality provisions to the federal telecommunications code.[14] Cardin also supports Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which gives DOJ the tools to target those site owners who are engaged in illegal digital piracy.[15]

On a list by Congressional Quarterly of the members of Congress who were most supportive of President Barack Obama's legislative agenda in 2009, Cardin was tied for fifth most supportive Senator with five other Senators.[12] In 2013, National Journal rated him as the fifth most-liberal Democrat in the Senate.[13]


From 1988 to 1999, Cardin served on the St. Mary's College of Maryland Board of Trustees, and in 2002, he was appointed to the St. Mary's Advisory Board for the Study of Democracy. In 1999, he was appointed to the Goucher College Board of Trustees.

From 1988 to 1995, he chaired the Maryland Legal Services Corp. Through much of his political career, he has continued to work with law policy.

Cardin currently sits on the Board of Visitors of the University of Maryland School of Law, his law school alma mater.[11]

Cardin holds honorary degrees from several institutions, including the University of Baltimore School of Law (1990); University of Maryland, Baltimore (1993); Baltimore Hebrew University (1994); Goucher College (1996); and Villa Julie College (2007).

Cardin testifying before the U.S. House Ways and Means subcommittee on Human Resources.



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