Katherine Marlea Clark (born July 17, 1963) is an American politician who has served as the United States representative for Massachusetts’s 5th congressional district since 2013, and as the assistant House Democratic leader (officially, the “Assistant Speaker“) since 2021, making her the fourth-highest-ranking House Democrat. Her district includes many of Boston‘s northern and western suburbs, such as Medford, Framingham, Woburn, Waltham, and Clark’s hometown of Melrose. A member of the Democratic Party, Clark was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 2008 to 2011, and of the Massachusetts Senate from 2011 to 2013.

Born in Connecticut, Clark worked as an attorney in several states, before moving to Massachusetts in 1995, where she worked in state government. She joined the Melrose School Committee in 2002, becoming committee chair in 2005. She was first elected to the state legislature in 2008, and contributed to legislation regarding criminal justice, education, and municipal pensions. She won the 2013 special election for the U.S. House of Representatives, to succeed Ed Markey, in the 5th district, and sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

Early life and career

Katherine Marlea Clark[1] was born on July 17, 1963, in New Haven, Connecticut.[2] She attended St. Lawrence University, Cornell Law School, and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.[3] She studied in Nagoya, Japan, in 1983.[1]

In her early career, she worked as an attorney in Chicago. She then moved to Colorado, where she worked as a clerk for Judge Alfred A. Arraj of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and later as a staff attorney for the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council.[4] She moved to Massachusetts in 1995 and became general counsel for the state Office of Child Care Services.[5]

Local politics

In 2001, Clark moved to Melrose, where she was elected to the Melrose School Committee, taking her seat in January 2002.[4] She first ran for the Massachusetts Senate in 2004 and lost to Republican incumbent Richard Tisei.[6][7] In January 2005, she was unanimously elected chairwoman of the Melrose School Committee.[8] In 2006, she ran for the 32nd Middlesex seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives when incumbent Mike Festa began a run for Middlesex district attorney but withdrew after he dropped out of the race.[9]

Clark was appointed co-chair of Victory 2006, the state Democratic Party’s campaign and fundraising effort for the 2006 gubernatorial election.[10] She spent some time as Chief of Policy and Government Relations in the Massachusetts Attorney General‘s office.[11]

Massachusetts legislature

At an event with then-U.S. Representative Ed Markey in 2008.

At an event with then-U.S. Representative Ed Markey in 2008.

Massachusetts House of Representatives

Festa resigned his state House seat in October 2007 to become Secretary of Elder Affairs in the Deval Patrick administration, and Clark entered the special election to succeed him. During the campaign, she emphasized her experience as an attorney and made “developing stability in state aid” her top policy issue. She won the Democratic primary in January with 65% of the vote, defeating two other Melrose Democrats.[11][12] She defeated Republican real estate businessman Mark B. Hutchison, 63% to 37%.[13][14] In November 2008, she was reelected to a full term unopposed.[15]

Sworn in on March 13, 2008,[16] Clark represented Melrose and Wakefield. She served on the Education, Judiciary, and Municipalities and Regional Government Committees.[17]

Massachusetts Senate

When Tisei resigned his state senate seat to run for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, Clark ran for his seat. In the Democratic primary, she defeated Stoneham attorney Michael S. Day, 64%–36%.[18][19] In the November 2010 general election, she defeated Republican Craig Spadafora, 52%–48%.[20]

Clark was sworn in on January 5, 2011.[21] She is a pro-choice legislator and has been endorsed in her campaigns by NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund.[22][23][24]

In 2011, Clark was co-chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service, where she was lead author of the Senate version of a bill to reform municipal pensions.[25][26] For her work in 2011, she received legislator of the year awards from the Massachusetts Municipal Association and the Massachusetts Police Association.[27][28] In 2012, she authored a law that takes steps to ensure that all Massachusetts students read at grade level by third grade.[29] Also in 2012, her bill extending restraining orders in domestic violence cases to cover victims’ pets, which are often used as pawns in abusive relationships, was signed as part of a larger law on animal shelters.[30][31] In 2013, she co-sponsored a bill expanding the state’s wiretapping authority, which was strictly limited under existing law, in order to help police better investigate violent street crime.[32] At the same time, she co-sponsored a bill to secure electronic privacy protections, requiring police to have probable cause before investigating the electronic records of individuals.[33] She filed another bill tightening sex offender laws, imposing stricter penalties and making offender data more accessible to agencies and the public.[34][35] The Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts named Clark its 2013 Legislator of the Year for her service on women’s issues.[36]

Clark’s committee assignments in the state Senate were as follows:

  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse (Vice Chair)
  • Post Audit and Oversight (Vice Chair)
  • Public Health
  • Public Safety and Homeland Security
  • Steering and Policy (Chair)[37]

U.S House of Representatives

Elections

2013 special

Clark was the Democratic nominee in the 2013 special election for the U.S. House of Representatives in Massachusetts’s 5th congressional district. The district’s longtime incumbent, Ed Markey, had just been elected to the United States Senate six months into his 19th term. In a heavily contested Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic district—she was endorsed by Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley[38] and EMILY’s List.[39] On October 15, 2013, she won the primary with a plurality of 32% of the vote. Her closest competitor was Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, with 22% of the vote.[40][41] On December 10, as expected, she easily won the special election.[42]

Tenure

Clark was sworn into office on December 12, 2013, and sits on the House Appropriations Committee.[43] In a 2014 interview with The Boston Globe, she compared life in Washington to the television series House of Cards, saying “It’s exactly like here, minus the murders.”[44]

Clark was unopposed in her bid for a full term in 2014.

In March 2015, Clark decided not to attend the speech by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint session of Congress. She affirmed a commitment to maintaining and strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and Israel but noted that the invitation was offered without first consulting the Obama administration.[45]

Clark has introduced legislation in response to Internet harassment, most notably resulting from the Gamergate controversy, and has advocated for more stringent enforcement of existing laws.[46] After introducing legislation that would criminalize “swatting” (falsely reporting an ongoing critical incident to dispatch an emergency response), she was herself targeted by a false report of an active shooter at her home.[47][48]

In January 2017, Clark announced a boycott of Donald Trump’s inauguration. She was part of a small group of House and Senate members who chose to boycott the ceremony. Her reason was her desire not to “normalize” Trump’s promotion of “bigoted, misogynist, anti-Semitic, and racist claims.”[49]

House Democratic Caucus vice chair

On November 28, 2018, it was announced that Clark had defeated California congressman Pete Aguilar to succeed Linda Sánchez as Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.[50][51]

House Democratic assistant speaker

On November 18, 2020, it was announced that Clark had defeated Rhode Island congressman David Cicilline by a vote of 135 to 92 to succeed Ben Ray Luján as Assistant Speaker, the number four spot in Democratic house leadership.[52]

Clark has been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Pelosi as Speaker of the House.[53]

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Appropriations
    • Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education
    • Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
    • Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch

Caucus memberships

  • Animal Protection Caucus
  • Armenian Caucus
  • Autism Caucus
  • Baby Caucus
  • Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change
  • Biomedical Research Caucus
  • Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)
  • Congressional Women’s Caucus
  • Cranberry Caucus
  • Internet Caucus
  • Hellenic Caucus
  • Heroin Task Force
  • LGBT Equality Caucus
  • Medicare for All Caucus
  • Peace Corps Caucus
  • Pre-K Caucus
  • Prescription Drug Abuse Caucus
  • Safe Climate Caucus
  • Small Brewers Caucus
  • Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition
  • Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus[54]

Personal life

Clark is married to Rodney S. Dowell, Chief Bar Counsel for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, the state entity that regulates the legal profession in Massachusetts.[55] They live in Melrose and have three children, one of whom identifies as non-binary.[3][56]

When Congress is in session, Clark rooms with Representatives Annie Kuster, Grace Meng, Lois Frankel, Cheri Bustos, and Julia Brownley.[57]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Miller, John (December 4, 2013). “A look at the two candidates in Tuesday’s special election”. The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 11, 2020. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  2. ^ Welch, William F.; James, Stephen F., eds. (2009). “Katherine M. Clark”. Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2009–2010). Commonwealth of Massachusetts. p. 107. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  3. ^ a b “About”. State Senator Katherine Clark (official website). Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Laidler, John (February 8, 2004). “Tisei faces rare challenge”. The Boston Globe.
  5. ^ Official Congressional Directory, 2013–2014 113th Congress. Joint Committee on Printing. 2014. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-0-16-091922-0. Archived from the original on January 8, 2021. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  6. ^ “MA State Senate – Middlesex & Essex Race – November 2, 2004”. Our Campaigns. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  7. ^ Laidler, John (November 7, 2004). “Area GOP candidates strike out in 5 races”. The Boston Globe.
  8. ^ Cole, Caroline Louise (January 9, 2005). “Melrose: New leader for school board”. The Boston Globe.
  9. ^ Cole, Caroline Louise (March 16, 2006). “Melrose: Clark withdraws from race”. The Boston Globe.
  10. ^ Laidler, John (October 8, 2006). “Political Notebook: On the move to boost party”. The Boston Globe.
  11. ^ a b Laidler, John (February 10, 2008). “Primaries over, final races begin”. The Boston Globe.
  12. ^ “MA State House – Thirty-Second Middlesex – Special Election – D Primary Race – Feb 05, 2008”. Our Campaigns. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  13. ^ “Our Campaigns – MA State House – Thirty-Second Middlesex – Special Election Race – Mar 04, 2008”. Our Campaigns. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  14. ^ Laidler, John (March 9, 2008). “Newly elected are ready: Two special votes fill House seats”. The Boston Globe.
  15. ^ “Our Campaigns – MA State House – Thirty-Second Middlesex Race – Nov 04, 2008”. Our Campaigns. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  16. ^ “Journal of the House” (PDF). Massachusetts House of Representatives. March 13, 2008. pp. 1154–1155. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  17. ^ “Katherine Clark”. Ballotpedia. Archived from the original on March 21, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  18. ^ “Race Details”. Our Campaigns. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  19. ^ “Melrose Primary: Clark wins Senate; Lucas takes GOP nomination in House race”. Melrose Free Press. September 15, 2010. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  20. ^ “Our Campaigns – MA State Senate – Middlesex & Essex Race – Nov 02, 2010”. Our Campaigns. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  21. ^ “Journal of the Senate”. Massachusetts Senate. January 5, 2011. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  22. ^ NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts releases voters guide Archived October 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine“. NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. August 26, 2010.
  23. ^ “The Pro-Choice Voters Guide”. NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. Fall 2012. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  24. ^ “We’re Proud to Congratulate Our Endorsed Candidates”. Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, Inc. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  25. ^ Bierman, Noah (May 25, 2011). “Unions soften tone on health: Put positive spin on Senate plan; Bill aims to cut municipal costs”. The Boston Globe.
  26. ^ “Governor Patrick Signs Pension Reform Legislation”. Office of the Governor of Massachusetts (press release). November 18, 2011. Archived from the original on July 2, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  27. ^ “MA honors 9 Legislators of Year”. The Massachusetts Municipal Association. January 25, 2012. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  28. ^ Laforme, William (November 2, 2012). “Clark is MA Police Association’s Legislator of the Year”. Wakefield Patch. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  29. ^ “Governor Patrick signs legislation to help close achievement gaps in reading and get all students to proficiency by Grade 3”. Office of the Governor of Massachusetts (press release). September 26, 2012.
  30. ^ “Pets and Domestic Violence”. MSPCA-Angell (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center).
  31. ^ O’Connell, Joe (August 3, 2012). “Patrick signs animal control reform bill in Ashland”. MetroWest Daily News. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  32. ^ Andersen, Travis (January 28, 2013). “Bill seeks end to strict limit on targets of wiretap law”. The Boston Globe.
  33. ^ “An Act updating privacy protections for personal electronic information”. The 188th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  34. ^ Smith, Erin (May 8, 2013). “More info on Level 1 offenders urged”. Boston Herald.
  35. ^ McKim, Jenifer B. (January 24, 2013). “Bill tightens law on sex offenders: Would give public more data”. The Boston Globe.
  36. ^ “WBA Holds Annual Meeting and Newly Admitted Lawyers Reception”. Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts. March 21, 2013. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  37. ^ “Member Profile: Katherine Clark”. Massachusetts General Court. Archived from the original on March 22, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  38. ^ Miller, Joshua (July 18, 2013). “Coakley backs Katherine Clark in bid for Markey’s seat”. The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  39. ^ “EMILY’s List Endorses Katherine Clark for Congress”. EMILY’s List. September 20, 2013. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  40. ^ Miller, Joshua (October 17, 2013). “Katherine Clark, Frank Addivinola win primaries in race to replace Ed Markey in US House”. The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  41. ^ Schultheis, Emily (October 15, 2013). “Katherine Clark wins Massachusetts special primary”. Politico. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  42. ^ “Some Mass. Lawmakers Already Eyeing Markey Seat”. WBUR News. Associated Press. February 22, 2013. Archived from the original on February 25, 2013. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  43. ^ “Committee Information”. United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on May 9, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  44. ^ Jan, Tracy (June 26, 2014). “Clark on making connections across the aisle”. The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  45. ^ Randall, Eric (March 3, 2015). “Which Massachusetts Delegates Sat Out the Netanyahu Speech in Congress?”. Boston. Metrocorp, Inc. Archived from the original on March 5, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  46. ^ Clark, Katherine (March 10, 2015). “Sexism in Cyberspace”. The Hill. Archived from the original on August 23, 2018. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  47. ^ Joshua Miller. Police swarm Katherine Clark’s home after apparent hoax Archived August 6, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. Boston Globe, 1 Feb 2016.
  48. ^ Tim Murphy. This Democratic Congresswoman Wants the FBI to Take on Gamergate Archived April 17, 2019, at the Wayback Machine. Mother Jones, 12 Mar 2015.
  49. ^ Herndon, Astead W. (January 5, 2017). “Katherine Clark to skip Trump’s inauguration in protest”. Boston Globe. Archived from the original on June 30, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  50. ^ March, Mary Tyler (November 28, 2018). “Clark wins spot as Dem Caucus vice chair”. TheHill. Archived from the original on November 26, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  51. ^ “Katherine Clark elected to leadership post – The Boston Globe”. BostonGlobe.com. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  52. ^ https://thehill.com/homenews/house/526507-katherine-clark-secures-no-4-leadership-spot-for-house[dead link]
  53. ^ Mucha, Sarah (July 15, 2021). “Katherine Clark’s ascent as prime candidate for next Speaker”. Axios. Archived from the original on July 15, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  54. ^ “Caucus Members”. Congressional Progressive Caucus. Archived from the original on January 14, 2021. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  55. ^ “BBO names new chief bar counsel”. Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly (official website). March 6, 2020. Archived from the original on April 12, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  56. ^ “Assistant Speaker Clark Celebrates Passage of the Equality Act – Press Releases – Congresswoman Katherine Clark”. United States House of Representatives. February 25, 2021. Archived from the original on March 23, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  57. ^ Mucha, Sarah (July 14, 2021). “Katherine Clark’s friend-filled path to speaker”. Axios. Archived from the original on July 15, 2021. Retrieved July 15, 2021.

External links

Massachusetts House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 32nd Middlesex district

2008–2011
Succeeded by

Massachusetts Senate
Preceded by

Member of the Massachusetts Senate
from the Middlesex and Essex district

2011–2013
Succeeded by

Constituency abolished
Preceded by

Constituency established
Member of the Massachusetts Senate
from the 5th Middlesex district

2013
Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts’s 5th congressional district

2013–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by

Vice Chair of the House Democratic Conference
2019–2021
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Assistant Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
2021–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
200th
Succeeded by