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Marsha Blackburn

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Marsha Blackburn

Marsha Blackburn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 7th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2003
Preceded by Ed Bryant
Personal details
Born Marsha Wedgeworth
(1952-06-06) June 6, 1952
Laurel, Mississippi, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Chuck Blackburn
Children Mary
Alma mater Mississippi State University,
Religion Christian (Presbyterianism)

Marsha Wedgeworth Blackburn[1] (born June 6, 1952) is an American politician.[2][3] A member of the Republican Party,[2][3] she represents Tennessee's 7th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.[3]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • U.S. House of Representatives 2.1
    • Political campaigns 2.2
    • Political positions 2.3
    • Scientific positions 2.4
    • Controversy 2.5
  • Electoral history 3
  • Personal life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Born Marsha Wedgeworth in Laurel, Mississippi, she attended Mississippi State University, earning a B.S.[2] in home economics in 1973.[4][5] In college, she joined Chi Omega[2][3] and worked as a student manager for the Southwestern Company, selling books door-to-door.[4]


Blackburn's professional career began in 1973 when she was hired as a sales manager for Times Mirror, Inc. In 1975 she was named Director of Retail Fashion and Special Events of the Caster Knott Co. Division of Mercantile Stores, Inc. She held this position until 1978, when, she became the owner of Marketing Strategies, a promotion-event management and image consulting firm. She continues to run this business to this day.[5]

Blackburn was a founding member of the Williamson county Young Republicans.[3] She became chair of the Williamson county Republican party[3] in 1989.[4] In 1992, she was a candidate for Congress and a delegate to the 1992 Republican National Convention.[4] She lost the congressional race,[3] but remained active in politics.[4] Blackburn was appointed executive director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment, and Music Commission, in 1995, by Tennessee governor Don Sundquist[3] and held that post through 1997.[4] In 1998, she was elected to the Tennessee state senate[2] where she served for six years and rose to be minority whip.[4]

In 2000, she took part in the effort to prevent the passage of a state income tax championed by Sundquist[3] and to ask for accountability for spending increases related to TennCare.

U.S. House of Representatives

Blackburn is one of three female U.S. representatives in congress who identifies as a "congressman"; the others are Republicans Diane Black of Tennessee and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming.[6]

In 2002, Republican Ed Bryant gave up his seat as representative from Tennessee's 7th District so that he could run for the Senate. Blackburn ran against Democrat Tim Barron for the seat and was overwhelmingly elected, thus becoming the first woman in Tennessee history to be elected to congress without following her husband. In 2004, she ran unopposed and was re-elected.

In 2006, she successfully ran for a third term in the House of Representatives.[2] In November 2007, she ran for the position of Republican conference chair, but lost.[7][8][9] She joined Mitt Romney's presidential campaign as a senior advisor.[10] In May 2007, she resigned her position in the Romney campaign and endorsed former U.S. senator Fred Thompson for president.[11][12][13] She was re-elected in 2008, 2010 and 2012; garnering no Democratic Party challenger in 2012.

Blackburn has been a member of the following committees:

She was also a member of the following caucuses:

She served as an assistant whip in the 108th and 109th Congress, and served as a deputy whip for the 110th and 111th Congress.[14][15] During the 110th Congress she was the communications chair for the Republican Study Committee. She served as a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee for a third consecutive term. In 2008, she won her primary race by gaining 62 percent of the vote against Shelby County registrar of deeds, and former fellow state senator Tom Leatherwood.[16][17]

Though serving a national role as vice chair of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Blackburn does not currently accept emails from outside of Tennessee's 7th congressional district.

In October 2015, Blackburn was selected to lead the Select Investigative Panel on Planned Parenthood.[18]

Political campaigns

Redistricting after the 2000 Census moved Blackburn's home from the 6th district into the 7th district. The 6th District Democratic incumbent congressman, Bart Gordon, had faced three tough races in the 1990s, including a near-defeat in 1994, in part due to the growing Republican trend in Nashville's suburbs. This was especially pronounced in Williamson County, the richest county in the state and the most Republican county in middle Tennessee. It appeared that the Democratic-controlled, Tennessee general assembly wanted to protect Gordon by moving Williamson county into the already heavily Republican 7th district.[19] To maintain approximately equal district sizes (as required by Wesberry v. Sanders – 1964) and to compensate for the substantial increase in the 7th's population by the addition of Williamson county, the general assembly shifted some of the more Democratic parts of Clarksville to the nearby 8th district. This created a district that was 200 miles long, but in some parts of middle Tennessee was only two miles wide—roughly the width of a highway lane as depicted on a map. According to Memphis Magazine, the gerrymandered district "stretches in reptilian fashion... from the suburbs of Memphis to those of western Nashville".[3]

In 2002, 7th District incumbent Republican congressman Ed Bryant decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Fred Thompson. Blackburn entered the primary to replace Bryant. The 7th was the most Republican area in Tennessee outside the state's traditional Republican heartland of Middle Tennessee, and it was generally understood that the race would effectively be decided in the Republican primary.

Of the four serious candidates, she was the only one from the Nashville suburbs, while the other three were all from Memphis and its suburbs. The three Memphians split the vote in that area, allowing her to win the primary by 20 points. Her primary win was tantamount to election in November. In the general election, she defeated Democratic nominee Tim Barron. She was the fourth woman elected to Congress from Tennessee, but the first not to serve as a stand-in for her husband. (Irene Bailey Baker and Louise Reece had served as caretakers after their husbands died in office, and Marilyn Lloyd replaced her husband on the ballot when he died after the primary election.) She is also the first Republican to represent part of Nashville since Reconstruction. A small portion of Nashville, roughly co-extensive with the Davidson County portion of Blackburn's state senate district, was shifted from the heavily Democratic 5th District to the 7th District after the 2000 Census.

She ran unopposed for reelection in 2004, which is somewhat unusual for a freshman member of Congress, even from a district as heavily Republican as the 7th. Washingtonian's September 2004 "Best and Worst of Congress", obtained from a survey of Congressional aides, identified her as one of the three best freshman members. She has been reelected four more times with only nominal opposition. Redistricting after the 2010 census made the district more compact and suburban; it lost its shares of Nashville and Memphis while regaining all of Clarksville. However, it is no less Republican than its predecessor; with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+18, it is one of the most Republican districts in the South.

Political positions

Marsha Blackburn speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 26, 2015.

Blackburn is a fiscal and social conservative. She opposed the Affordable Care Act, stating that with the passage of the bill, "freedom dies a little bit today."[20] She subsequently supported efforts to repeal the legislation, arguing that it "means well" but fails to live up to its promise.[21] When pressed by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on the claim that the legislation included "death panels" for the elderly, she would not reject this assertion.[22][23]

In April 2009, she questioned former Vice President Al Gore during an energy-related congressional hearing: "The legislation that we are discussing here today, is that something that you are going to personally benefit from?”.[24] The Independent, a London-based periodical, has credited her for "famously put[ting Gore] on the spot about his business interests in the [energy] industry" during this confrontation.[25] Gore vociferously refuted the implied accusation, pointing out that every penny he makes from renewable technology investment goes to a non-profit.[26]

In 2013, she was chosen to manage debate on a bill promoted by House Republicans which would criminalize all abortions after 22 weeks' gestation, with limited exceptions for rape or incest.[27] She replaced the bill's sponsor, congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), after Franks made controversial claims that the chances of pregnancy resulting from rape were "very low".[28][29]

At October 2013 congressional hearings on the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare", Blackburn charged that the website violated HIPAA and health information privacy rights. The next day, when a CNN interviewer pointed out that the only health-related question that the web site asks is "do you smoke?", Blackburn repeated her criticism of the site for violating privacy rights.[30]

She scored 100% on American Conservative Union’s 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 Ratings of Congress.[31][32][33] According to her campaign website, National Journal described her as a "freshman to watch" and a "top House conservative" in 2003 and 2004, Americans for Tax Reform called her a "taxpayer hero" in 2003, and the National Right to Life praised her for supporting the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act. In 2008, Blackburn was named one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington,[34] although the Federal Election Commission unanimously rejected CREW's complaint.[35]

She is a staunch opponent of Net neutrality in the United States and municipal broadband initiatives. As of March 2015 her campaign has accepted at least $221,900 from contributors in the telecommunications industry. These include AT&T and Comcast who have strongly lobbied against net neutrality.[36][37][38]

Scientific positions

On February 16, 2014, Blackburn appeared on NBC's Meet The Press as a guest in a climate change segment alongside Bill Nye. She reiterated a belief that scientists do not sufficiently understand the climate to make long term predictions, and argued that a cost/benefit analysis did not support taking any action against further carbon emission increases.[39]

In 2015, Blackburn shared her belief that the world has been cooling instead of warming. She stated, "I think we've cooled almost 1 degree (F)."[40] Blackburn has also rejected the theory of evolution.[40]


In April 2008, Blackburn summoned reporters to explain that she had found errors in her Federal Election Commission filings going back several years and had failed to report $286,278 in expenditures, including $18,821 to a fundraising consulting company run by her son-in-law, Paul Ketchel. She also failed to report $102,044 in contributions.[41]

Electoral history

Tennessee's 6th congressional district: 1992 results[42]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Bart Gordon 120,177 57% Marsha Blackburn 86,289 41% H. Scott Benson Independent 5,952 3% *

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, write-ins received 10 votes.

Tennessee's 7th congressional district: Results 2002–2012[42][43]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2002 Tim Barron 51,790 26% Marsha Blackburn 138,314 71% Rick Patterson Independent 5,423 3% *
2004 (no candidate) Marsha Blackburn 232,404 100%
2006 Bill Morrison 73,369 32% Marsha Blackburn 152,288 66% Kathleen A. Culver Independent 1,806 1% *
2008 Randy Morris 98,207 31% Marsha Blackburn 214,214 69%
2010 Greg Rabidoux 54,341 25% Marsha Blackburn 158,892 72% J.W. Stone Independent 6,319 3% *
2012 Credo Amouzouvik 61,050 24% Marsha Blackburn 180,775 71% Howard Switzer Green 4,584 2% *
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2002, write-ins received 31 votes. In 2006, James B. "Mickey" White received 898 votes; William J. Smith received 848 votes; John L. Rimer received 710 votes; and Gayl G. Pratt received 663 votes.

Personal life

Blackburn is married to Chuck Blackburn,[3] and they live in The C Street Family, a prayer group that includes members of Congress.[48] She is also a member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board.[49]


  1. ^ Legistorm summary page for Rep. Marsha Wedgeworth Blackburn
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Barnette, Amy, Marsha Blackburn – 7th Congressional District, The Commercial Appeal, 30 June 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Baker, Jackson, Marsha Blackburn – Beacon of the Right, Memphis Magazine, July 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g The Marsha Blackburn Collection web page, [[Mississippi State University Congressional and Political Research Center. Retrieved 5 December 2013.]
  5. ^ a b
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  10. ^ "Governor Mitt Romney Announces Two New Senior Advisers"
  11. ^ "Blackburn endorses Fred Thompson"
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  30. ^ Cavendish, Steve This Is What Happens When Marsha Blackburn Can't Answer A Simple Question, Nashville Scene, 25 October 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  31. ^
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  35. ^ "FEC Dismisses Complaint Against Blackburn", Associated Press (February 16, 2009).
  36. ^
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  40. ^ a b
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  43. ^ "2012 General Election Results"ABC News
  44. ^
  45. ^ International Bow Tie Society wibesite "Founder's Bio" page. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  46. ^ PCA/Denomination, Christ Presbyterian Church, "About Us"
  47. ^ [1], Associated Press
  48. ^ Inside The C Street House, July 21, 2009
  49. ^

External links

Tennessee Senate
Preceded by
Keith Jordan
Member of the Tennessee Senate
from the 23rd district

Succeeded by
Jim Bryson
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ed Bryant
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 7th congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Rob Bishop
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Michael Burgess
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