Lynn Woolsey
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Lynn Woolsey

Lynn Woolsey
Lynn Woolsey Official Portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 6th district

January 3, 1993 - January 3, 2013
Barbara Boxer
Jared Huffman
Personal details
Born (1937-11-03) November 3, 1937 (age 83)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of San Francisco (BS)

Lynn C. Woolsey (born November 3, 1937) is an American politician who served as the U.S. Representative for California's 6th congressional district from 1993 to 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, her district included all of Marin County and most of Sonoma County.

She was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and was its co-chair from 2010 until her retirement in 2013. Woolsey, who described herself as "the first former welfare mother to serve in Congress,"[1] was one of two members of the House known to have previously been on welfare; the other is Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI).[2]

On June 28, 2011, Woolsey announced that she would not run for re-election in the 2012 election.[3] She was succeeded in her North Bay district by Jared Huffman.

Early life, education and career

Woolsey was born in Seattle, Washington. Woolsey graduated from Lincoln High School in 1955.[4] She was educated at the University of Washington, where she became a member of Alpha Phi sorority, but left school early to be married. She moved to Marin County in Northern California and enrolled at the University of San Francisco.[5]

Her husband left the family, leaving Woolsey to raise her three children alone. She received public assistance to make ends meet while working and finishing her education. She remarried and raised another child. She later became a human resources manager and business owner, a teacher at the College of Marin and the Dominican University of California, and a member of the Petaluma, California, City Council before running for Congress.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives

Political campaigns

In 1992, five-term Congresswoman Barbara Boxer gave up her seat to make a successful run for the Senate. Woolsey entered a nine-way Democratic primary. Seven of her opponents lived in Marin County and split that county's vote, allowing Woolsey to win the nomination with only 26 percent of the vote. In the general election, she faced Republican Assemblyman Bill Filante, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and did not actively campaign. Woolsey won with 65 percent of the vote.[7]

Woolsey was reelected eight times with no substantial opposition.


Woolsey was ranked as the most liberal member of Congress in 2012 by That's My Congress.[8]

Welfare reform

She quickly made her presence known, drawing upon her experience in vocal opposition to the major welfare reform initiative negotiated by House Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s. She later led efforts to restore programmatic funding for services such as child care, nutrition, and paid parental leave. She also successfully passed legislation increasing the power of the IRS to enforce payment of delinquent child support.[9]


Woolsey was an outspoken opponent of the War in Iraq. On October 10, 2002, she was among 133 members of the House who voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq.[10] She has taken an active role in calling for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from that country. She led 15 members of Congress in writing a letter to President George W. Bush dated January 12, 2005, calling for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq.[11] She also was the first Member of Congress to call for a troop withdrawal, when she introduced H.Con. Res. 35 on January 26, 2005. Woolsey gave war protester Cindy Sheehan a guest pass to attend Bush's 2006 State of the Union speech. Sheehan's attendance at the speech became noted when she was arrested for wearing a T-shirt with a political message.[12]

Indian gaming

Woolsey introduced the Graton Rancheria Restoration Act on August 6, 1998.[13] It was signed by President Clinton as Title XIV of the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act in December 2000.

Woolsey testified in support of H.R. 946, citing her approval for the clause restricting gaming on land that is "taken into trust for the tribes."[14]

Woolsey's original bill (H.R. 4434, later H.R. 946) would not have permitted the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria to have an Indian casino. Senator Barbara Boxer removed that prohibition when she included Woolsey's bill in the Omnibus Act.

In response, Woolsey introduced H.R. 2656 (which never left the House Resources Committee) and appeared frequently at local town-hall meetings, saying that the Miwok Indians double-crossed her by seeking to legalize gambling on their reservation.[15]

Scouting for All Act

In September 2000, Woolsey sponsored H.R. 4892, the Scouting for All Act, to revoke the charter held by the Boy Scouts of America.[16]

Recognition of Ramadan

On December 11, 2007, Woolsey, along with 8 other Democrats, voted 'nay' on a resolution to recognize the importance of "Christmas and the Christian faith" but did vote to "recognize the commencement of Ramadan",' a Muslim religious observance in October.[17]

Health care

Woolsey introduced a bill to revive the public option on July 22, 2010.[18] The Congressional Budget Office projected that the legislation would save $68 billion between 2014 and 2020.[19]

She was strongly critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which prevents private health insurance plans from covering abortion if the plan is subsidized by tax breaks in the context of the November 2009 Affordable Health Care for America Act.[]

Committee assignments



Stewart Pearson letter

On December 2, 2003, Woolsey wrote a letter on behalf of Stewart Pearson, the son of one of her senior aides, who had pleaded guilty to rape. In a letter written on her official congressional stationery, she asked the judge to consider mitigating circumstances and show leniency.[20] The judge in the case was not swayed by the letter, and sentenced Pearson to eight years in prison, the maximum allowed under the plea bargain. Woolsey has apologized for writing the letter, saying she did not know all the facts; the victim did not accept her apology.[21]

Objection to 2004 Presidential Election results

Woolsey was one of thirty-one House Democrats who voted to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.[22] President George W. Bush won Ohio by 118,457 votes.[23] Without Ohio's electoral votes, the election would have been decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, with each state having one vote in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Darfur protest arrest

Woolsey was arrested April 27, 2009, outside the embassy of Sudan in Washington, D.C., during a protest against genocide in Darfur.[24] Woolsey and four other U.S. lawmakers were protesting the blocking of aid to victims. They were arrested on a charge of trespassing after they crossed a police line.

Other Democratic House members arrested were Jim McGovern, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison and John Lewis.

Electoral history

United States House of Representatives elections, 1992[25]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey 190,322 65.2
Republican Bill Filante 98,171 33.6
No party Write-in 3,293 1.1
Total votes 291,786 100.0
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 1994[26]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey (incumbent) 137,642 58.1
Republican Michael J. Nugent 88,940 37.5
Libertarian Louis Beary 6,203 2.6
Peace and Freedom Ernest K. Jones, Jr. 4,055 1.7
Total votes 236,840 100.0
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 1996[27]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey (incumbent) 156,958 61.6
Republican Duane C. Hughes 86,278 33.8
Peace and Freedom Ernest K. Jones, Jr. 6,459 2.5
Natural Law Bruce Kendall 5,240 2.1
Total votes 254,935 100.0
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 1998[28]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey (incumbent) 158,446 68.0
Republican Ken McAuliffe 69,295 29.7
Natural Law Alan R. Barreca 5,240 2.2
Total votes 232,981 100.0
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2000[29]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey (incumbent) 182,166 64.3
Republican Ken McAuliffe 80,169 28.3
Green Justin Moscoso 13,248 4.7
Libertarian Richard O. Barton 4,691 1.9
Natural Law Alan R. Barreca 2,894 1.1
Total votes 283,118 100.0
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2002[30]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey (incumbent) 139,750 66.7
Republican Paul L. Erickson 62,052 29.7
Libertarian Richard O. Barton 4,936 2.3
Reform Jeff Rainforth 2,825 1.3
Total votes 209,563 100.0
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2004[31]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey (incumbent) 226,423 72.7
Republican Paul L. Erickson 85,244 27.3
Total votes 311,667 100.0
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2006[32]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey (incumbent) 173,190 70.3
Republican Todd Hooper 64,405 26.1
Libertarian Richard W. Friesen 9,028 3.6
Total votes 246,623 100.0
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2008[33]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey (incumbent) 229,672 71.7
Republican Mike Halliwell 77,073 24.1
Libertarian Joel R. Smolen 13,617 4.2
Total votes 320,362 100.0
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lynn Woolsey (incumbent) 172,216 66.0
Republican Jim Judd 77,361 29.7
Peace and Freedom Eugene F. Ruyle 5,915 2.2
Libertarian Joel R. Smolen 5,660 2.1
Total votes 261,152 100.0
Democratic hold

See also


  1. ^ "Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey: Biography". Archived from the original on February 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  2. ^ "Profile: Congresswoman Gwen Moore". Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ CNN Wire Staff (June 27, 2011). "California Democrat will not seek re-election to Congress". CNN.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Women in Congress" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Women in Congress" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D)". The National Journal Almanac. The National Journal. Retrieved 2012.
  8. ^ "That's My Congress: Liberal and Conservative Scorecard for the House of Representatives in the 113th Congress". Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "Women in Congress" (PDF).
  10. ^ "H J RES 114: To Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq". October 10, 2002. Retrieved 2012.
  11. ^ Epstein, Edward (January 13, 2005). "16 Dems Urge Bush to Start Pullout from Iraq". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  12. ^ " - Activist Sheehan arrested in House gallery - Feb 1, 2006". CNN. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ "H.R.4434 -- Graton Rancheria Restoration Act". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2012.
  14. ^ "Hearing on H.R.946, H.R.2671, and H.R.4148". Retrieved 2012.
  15. ^ "Sen. Boxer ambushes Woolsey, adds casino rights for Miwok". Archived from the original on December 23, 2007.
  16. ^ Bill Text 106th Congress (1999-2000) H.R.4892.IH
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link),Ramadan "Yea", Christmas "Nay" 12 December 2007, Town Hall
  18. ^ "Woolsey to introduce 'robust public option' bill". Archived from the original on July 27, 2010.
  19. ^ Levey, Noam N. (July 21, 2010). "Proposed deficit remedy: the healthcare 'public option'". The Los Angeles Times.
  20. ^ Gollan, Jennifer (February 7, 2004). "Woolsey's pitch for rapist questioned". The Marin Independent Journal.
  21. ^ Gollan, Jennifer (February 15, 2004). "Teen victim rejects Woolsey's apology". The Marin Independent Journal.
  22. ^ "Final Vote Results for Role Call 7". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. January 6, 2005. Retrieved 2013.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "U.S. lawmakers arrested in Darfur protest at Sudan embassy". CNN. April 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  25. ^ "1992 election results". Retrieved 2012.
  26. ^ "1994 election results". Retrieved 2012.
  27. ^ "1996 election results". Retrieved 2012.
  28. ^ "1998 election results". Retrieved 2012.
  29. ^ "2000 election results". Retrieved 2012.
  30. ^ 2002 election results
  31. ^ 2004 election results[dead link]
  32. ^ "2006 election results" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 27, 2008. Retrieved 2012.
  33. ^ "2008 election results" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 21, 2008. Retrieved 2012.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Barbara Boxer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Doris Matsui
Party political offices
Preceded by
Peter DeFazio
Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
Served alongside: Barbara Lee, Raúl Grijalva
Succeeded by
Keith Ellison

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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