Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cathy McMorris-Rodgers: Portrait of Partisan Success

In some ways Cathy McMorris Rogers is a bit of an enigma.  She has risen rapidly in the Republican ranks and has a rather impressive resume’ but she seems quite ordinary and un-impressive in her general demeanor.  She has come such a long way from the Peachcrest Fruit Basket Orchard and Fruit Stand, in Kettle Falls, Washington.

Cathy McMorris' Earlier Years

Born in Salem, Oregon in 1969 she moved with her family, including a younger brother to Colville where they purchase an orchard nearby. Cathy McMorris was first elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 1994, representing the 7th Legislative district (parts or all of the counties of Ferry, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens). Cathy McMorris had been the legislative assistant to Bob Morton. When Morton moved up to the state senate she ran for his position in 1993. She was re-elected four times and served in that office through January 2005. From 2002-2003, she served as House Minority Leader, the top leadership post for the House Republicans. She was the first woman to lead a House Caucus, and the youngest since World War II. This is a remarkable track record in a very short time in the Washington state legislature.

Cathy McMorris in Congress

Cathy McMorris never missed a beat when she ended up in the United States House of Representatives in 2004 with 59.7% vote margin over Spokane hotel executive Don Barbieri, for the open seat. Her brother, Jeff McMorris, served as her campaign manager.  She was appointed chairwoman of the National Task Force on Improving the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 2006.  Appointed Republican co-chairwoman of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues2007.  On November 19, 2008, Cathy McMorris was elected to serve as the Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference for the 111th United States Congress, making her the fourth highest ranking Republican in her caucus leadership (after John Boehner, Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence) and she is the highest-ranking Republican woman in the current House of Representatives.

She apparently avoided any serious romantic entanglements and claims she enjoys playing the piano, swimming and reading about American history.  That all changed when, on the 5th August 2006 in San Diego, Cathy McMorris married Brian Rodgers, a retired Navy commander and a Spokane, Washington native. Rodgers is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and the son of David Rodgers, the mayor of Spokane from 1967 to 1977. In April 2007, she became the first member of Congress in more than a decade to give birth while in office, with the birth of Cole McMorris Rodgers. The couple later announced their child was diagnosed with Down syndrome. In August 2010, McMorris Rodgers announced via her Facebook page that she expected another child; Grace was born December 2010, making her mother the first member of Congress to give birth twice while in office.

McMorri's Education

Prior to her first political involvement McMorris Rodgers earned a BA in Pre-law from Pensacola Christian College in 1990. She earned her Executive MBA from the University of Washington in 2002 while serving in the legislature.   An interesting sidelight is that the lawyer alums from The Pensacola Christian College praised the speech training they got there.  Until fairly recently the congresswoman has not shown much talent for that.  She has become a competent public speaker in the last few years so she has apparently been working at that with the experts in DC.

When she was chairwoman of the committee to improve the EPA she started out chairing a committee hearing in Spokane. She was so uncomfortable with the procedures that another member of the committee took over about half way through.  She seems quite tentative in her official capacity at congressional events but her performance has improved in the smoothness of her delivery.  This was most notable in her recent “Town Meeting” in Spokane and in her debate on television during her campaign against Darrel Romeyn, a former TV weather caster.  He got 12% of the vote to her 63%.  He spent$2300.  She spent $1,453,000.  There were others in the race.

She is a party person.  Partisanship should be her middle name.  Cathy McMorris-Rodgersvoted with the Republican leadership 97% of the time in the 111th congress while casting 1654 votes.  Her favorite organizations are:  American Conservative Union 96% voting record.  Club for Growth 94%. Family Research Council 100%. National Taxpayers Union 89%.  National Chamber of Commerce 100%.  She tends to be very conservative.  The League of Conservation Voters gave her a 10% rating which was the high point of the non-Republican approved organizations.

More about Cathy McMorris-Rodgers The congresswoman appears to be almost shy and unassuming but her appearance belies her accomplishments.   And she is a striking figure.  Quite tall she has a fashion model’s figure and no politician, male or female has a better smile!  She photographs extremely well too, while dressing with casual elegance but not in a “showy” way.

When interviewing her, the interviewer is tempted to want to help her with her answers.  And perhaps that is her most endearing characteristic.  You see her and you aren’t intimidated and you almost want to help her in spite of your opposition to her political positions.    Almost.

This year Cathy McMorris-Rodgers is being challenged by Rich Cowan. You can read more about the race at EWPolitics.org

No comments:

Post a Comment